Longines is a model on the transfer, and people strikes are incessantly airborne. That is actually true of CEO Matthias Breschan, whom we now have met twice within the span of some months, each in Asia however not in the identical nation. That’s how this exceptional story took place, with two interviews and a few launch occasions. The extra vital of the 2 happened in March this 12 months as Longines revealed a part of its slate of novelties for the 12 months. We’ll get to these sooner or later, however first we must always hear from Breschan himself in regards to the model’s plans for the long run.
We now have met the present CEO of Longines watches a couple of occasions, proper again to his days of being accountable for Rado — Breschan has spent a great deal of time with The Swatch Group, counting his time at Hamilton, and Swatch too. This being the Swatch Group, solely the chief executives are supposed to make public statements that may be quoted. Thus Breschan has a tricky job, all the time needing to subject questions from the press, and everywhere in the world too. He has been remarkably forthright in regards to the influence of the pandemic on enterprise, for instance. He most just lately advised The Straits Occasions that Longines’ weaknesses in counting on tourist-spending moderately than participating them in their very own markets made itself evident through the rocky interval of Covid-19. The model has since bounced again, reaching 2019 ranges once more in 2022; that is exceptional in itself, provided that the journey scenario has, arguably, not but returned to 2019 ranges, and reveals that Longines did certainly react positively to the challenges it confronted.
Whereas Breschan is clearly obsessed with having the ability to go to numerous markets once more, this go to is a little bit delicate. The rationale for the problem on this event is definitely the explanation we’re all gathered in Bangkok. Although we now have seen the novelties, and Breschan has commented on them, most are nonetheless underneath embargo so we can not say an excessive amount of.
Which means that we now have to talk obliquely at occasions, and the interview has been edited as such. It additionally means we can not showcase most of the novelties throughout these pages. However, Breschan did discuss common methods so we’ll go along with these feedback, supplemented by the sooner interview we did in Singapore. All of it works out, as you will notice from the very first query. After all, that trade will not be the primary one, chronologically talking and all that follows has been edited and formatted for readability and construction.
Our Bangkok assembly happened within the 4 Seasons, the place — purely by likelihood — the Czech boss on the lodge truly wears a classic Longines Majetek watch. Breschan advised us that this solely turned recognized to the model when it approached the lodge about internet hosting the 2023 regional novelty launch there. Maybe this can be a fortuitous signal for each the brand new Majetek and for the novelties on the whole.
Earlier than we dig into aviation watches and the themes of 2023, inform us about how the technique developed in 2022?
I feel you see within the assortment of 2022 very properly the technique of how we’re going to develop sooner or later. As a result of we launched in March final 12 months, the Spirit Zulu GMT with a model new unique GMT motion. It has state-of-the-art know-how like a silicon stability spring, and a (true) GMT motion as a result of you may modify the hour hand independently from the minute hand. And naturally, with our historical past of inventing the GMT motion in 1925… truly it started already in 1908 with a pocket watch with two time zones, requested by the (Ottoman) sultan. With the GMT watch, in historical past, pilots wanted a reference time (to keep away from air crashes), outlined as GMT, which pilots referred to as zero meridian… Zero is Zulu in aviation parlance, and that is why we named the Spirit Zulu as such.
One other instance is the Extremely-Chron Diver the place we now have a high-frequency motion. Longines actually revolutionised timekeeping in sporting occasions with the primary such (pocket) watch already in 1914; it was then doable to measure time to an accuracy of 1/tenth of a second. By 1916, we had taken it to 1/a centesimal of a second. It was truly so in style that Longines acquired solicited by all organisers of sport occasions to time sporting occasions as a result of the model’s watches have been recognized for such excessive precision. We built-in, in 1959 for the primary time, high-frequency actions in a wristwatch. For 2022, we selected a dive watch from 1968 because the inspiration for the Extremely-Chron. It’s distinctive not solely when it comes to the 36,000 VPH motion and 52-hour energy reserve but additionally within the ending of the watch itself, with the sapphire crystal insert on the bezel. If you have a look at the marketplace for watches underneath US$5,000, there’s nothing like this. It’s also chronometer-certified (by Timelab, a Swiss outfit that certifies not solely the motion, as COSC does, but additionally the whole watch head).
We can not consider any watches at that value level, with a high-frequency motion, by no means thoughts all these traits!
Truly, there’s a good story in regards to the Extremely-Chron (the up to date mannequin launched in 2022). A number of the first watches have been delivered to France — to the well-known Gallerie Lafayette division retailer, and a collector (well-known for gathering high-end items) got here to our boutique there on the day the watches arrived and requested for the Extremely-Chron. I have no idea how this particular person was conscious of the precise date the watch can be arriving on the boutique, however these days collectors know all the things! Anyway, he requested for the watch, and stated he needed to verify the precision. Our retailer supervisor turned fairly nervous as a result of this collector had a instrument (a tool that checks the amplitude of a mechanical motion, which on this case was transportable and thus more likely to be the Accuracy2 – Ed). The man connected the machine to his telephone, and after 5 minutes he stated he was achieved…(that is what he stated) “I’ve by no means, ever, measured precision like you may have in your Extremely-Chron watch.” He purchased the watch and left.
That may be a nice story! It does convey up a difficulty I’ve in all probability mentioned with you earlier than, which is the pricing of Longines watches. It appears there’s an upward pattern now for 2023. Is that proper?
To begin with, Longines is positioned within the US$1,000 to $5,000 vary, and has been for the previous 20 years; it should proceed to be this manner for the subsequent 20 years. Now with the brand new merchandise for 2023, whereas we proceed to remain in our area, we’re transferring in direction of the higher finish of the vary. Beforehand, nearly all of our watches, I might say, have been throughout the US$1,000 to $2,500 vary, whereas now watches just like the Majetek and the Spirit Flyback Chronograph are above that, however nonetheless under US$5,000. Just like the Spirit Zulu GMT, the brand new watches all function high-end technical improvements (in case building and the usage of Longines-exclusive actions) so they’re priced accordingly, however nonetheless very affordable for what they’re. Just like the Extremely-Chron, there’s nothing just like the Majetek on the market at its value level (though technically, there’s nothing in any respect out there just like the Majetek – Ed). So, even if Longines is providing all this innovation, we now have by no means left our value phase — that is the fantastic thing about being within the Swatch Group. We get each economies of scale, and haven’t any must go increased as a result of (the group) has Omega, and equally no must go decrease, as a result of there’s Tissot.
Providing a flyback chronograph for underneath US$5,000 could be very daring! We additionally hear that there’s a significance to this mannequin so inform us about it please?
We now have to look to the timekeeping historical past of Longines (for the solutions). The data that buyers have immediately about watches drastically elevated prior to now years. Immediately’s customers are extraordinarily educated and, particularly, younger individuals. Increasingly more, we see that they get obsessed with watches — about mechanical actions, particulars in watchmaking, and the historical past of the craft. For instance, (once we converse of the Flyback Chronograph), Longines invented the primary wristwatch flyback chronograph in 1935 — we now have a patent for this. The truth is, Longines invented the primary chronograph wristwatch in 1913 (outfitted with the vital calibre 13.33Z).
So, the flyback chronograph is basically one thing that is part of our heritage (that is the legendary manual-winding 13ZN motion that’s so low-key that even Breschan reviews being shocked to study it, after he joined the model in 2020 -Ed). Greater than this, the flyback chronograph perform was actually vital to pioneering aviators, as a result of it allowed them to cease and reset the chronograph with the push of only a single pusher, so the chronograph doesn’t lose time when beginning to document a brand new interval. This was vital in these days as a result of the aviators needed to plan course adjustments based mostly on how lengthy that they had been flying (at a specified velocity), so the flyback chronograph supplied a bonus.
Given the truth that the flyback chronograph, and the chronograph on the whole, are sturdy for Longines, why kick off the 12 months with the Majetek, which is a tougher piece to grasp?
As a result of the unique watch was an actual breakthrough, and it allowed us to (spotlight) that Longines truly pioneered the turning bezel again in 1935. Not many individuals know this; most suppose that this sort of bezel was invented for the dive watch (within the Fifties), however that’s not true. The truth is, the perform of this sort of bezel was meant for navigators to make use of at sea or within the air (to help in serving to keep on track), and these pioneers are vital to the historical past of Longines. I don’t suppose that early aviators resembling Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart would have been in a position to obtain what they did with out Longines as a result of they wanted dependable timing devices on their wrists (Longines additionally made cockpit timekeepers – Ed).
The Majetek additionally introduces some intelligent improvements, together with an antimagnetic escapement in silicon. After all, you might have had the identical impact with quartz too, however we perceive why you wouldn’t try this. How do you see the divide between quartz and mechanical timekeepers immediately, provided that Longines has each in its vary?
Properly, I feel the individuals who admire quartz actions, it’s a really particular clientele. They only need hassle-free watches; they don’t wish to take a be careful of the drawer after which have to regulate it each time. The client of mechanical watches, he has a special understanding of what we make… You understand, I bear in mind this myself after I joined The Swatch Group on the very starting. I attended a category the place they defined the variations between quartz and mechanical actions. On the finish of this class, they gave us a mechanical pocket watch motion, and each participant needed to disassemble and reassemble it. From this second, my appreciation for mechanical actions, the appreciation for the work of watchmakers, for micro-mechanics, completely modified. It additionally modified my notion of mechanical watches as a result of from this second on I actually appreciated them as emotional equipment. Yeah, you retain it on your lifetime, even for the subsequent era; you don’t change to a different watch each six months or a 12 months, and also you by no means throw it away. That is once you start to actually admire the mechanical motion; this realisation is when your notion of watchmaking completely adjustments.
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