From The Nearly Collapsed To World-famous, How Long Is Longines?

My friend Liu works at a state-owned enterprise and recently wanted to buy a watch. Knowing that I had a little research on watches, I asked for advice. Before recommending it, he said that several colleagues around him wear Longines. This brand is well-known and looks good. The key price is not expensive. Or buy one. Now that he fancy Longines, all I have to do is help him choose a style. Finally, on my advice, he bought a master watch. It can be seen from this that, in the minds of the public, Longines is famous, affordable and can be worn. Moreover, we have to admit that in the price range of 10,000 to 20,000, although Longines may not be the best in one respect, its comprehensive strength is the strongest enough to crush other similar brands. Today, such a successful Longines has almost closed down. What is going on? Let’s start with the L990 movement. This is Longines’ last real self-produced movement, born in the late 1970s. Don’t Longines always use ETA movements, but they still have their own movements? of course! L990 is the last real self-produced movement from Longines. It may not seem like a self-produced movement now, after all, this is an era of overwhelming self-produced movements, even some brands that have never produced a movement. I started to brag about how powerful the movement’s research and development strength is. It’s like someone who has never chased a girl said that he is a master of picking up girls. I always think there is something wrong. Let’s look to the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, even top brands such as Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe were still generally using timing movements provided by movement factories such as Lemania and indulged in repairs of these outsourced movements. Modifications, and Longines not only has its own production movement, there are also very good self-production timing movements 13ZN and 30CH. The chronograph with the 30CH movement and the details of the movement can be seen from it. In the history, Longines’ positioning is much higher than it is now. Naturally, even the chronograph movement can be produced, and the junior needle movement is even more important. This is the L990, which was introduced in 1977. The L990 was an ultra-thin, three-pin caliber with a thickness of only 2.96 mm. It was one of the thinnest self-winding movements at the time, much thinner than the ETA2892, which is now widely used by Longines. Moreover, this movement uses a dual barrel, an instant jump calendar, a power reserve of more than 40 hours, and a vibration frequency of 28,800. The structure is reasonable and the design is advanced. Longines using the L990 movement is now rare on the market. However, the L990 is unlucky. When it was not born, it did not catch up with a good age. Since Seiko officially launched quartz watches in the late 1960s, the entire Swiss watch industry has been strongly impacted by the ‘quartz crisis’ in the 1970s. Longines is no exception. Coupled with the high cost of developing this movement, Longines is facing Great financial pressure. Around 1980, the Lemania movement factory bought the L990 design and production rights from Longines. I believe that at that time, Longines definitely didn’t have a taste in his heart. Such an excellent ‘child’ was because ‘the poor in the family’ had let others adopt him. With the L990, Lemania is even more powerful, and it will soon launch the Lemania 8810 and its improved Lemania 8815 on the basis of this movement. Longines faced many difficulties at the time. In addition to the impact of the quartz crisis and the pressure brought by the higher R990 R & D costs, the brand’s management also had some problems. The biggest problem is that Longines has not found a suitable strategic position. Whether it is a watch, a pocket watch, a ship clock, or even some high-precision chronographs, Longines does not refuse to come and basically does everything. Because the appetite is too big, the front is too long, seemingly everything, but it is complicated and not refined. Moreover, because there are too many products involved and Longines’ production cannot keep up, it is difficult to deliver on time. If you don’t deliver on time, you will not receive the payment. Over time, a vicious circle forms. It is said that Longines had already carried out bankruptcy liquidation at that time. Fortunately, Nicholas Hayek, the savior of the Swiss watch industry, was born, and merged ASUAG and SSIH, two dying watch groups, and later renamed the Swatch Group. Longines belonged to ASUAG at that time, and Omega belonged to SSIH, and later they became logically part of the Swatch Group. Therefore, in fact Longines becoming a ‘family member’ of the Swatch Group is not an active choice, but the result of the acquisition and integration of its parent company. However, the fate of Longines is not bad. Without Hayek, it is likely that Longines said goodbye to clocks completely in the 1980s. After Longines, Omega and other brands became members of the Swatch Group, Hayek adjusted the positioning of Longines and Omega. Simply put, it is to improve the positioning of Omega and reduce the positioning of Longines. Longines’ movement research and development team has also been dismantled. It no longer belongs to Longines, but is assigned to the ETA movement factory, which is responsible for the related business of ETA movements. Fortunately, the ETA movement factory is also owned by the Swatch Group. This is actually a redistribution of resources within the group. For Longines, not only the positioning has been reduced, but also the movement research and development team is gone, so what is the tinkering of the self-produced movement? So since then, Longines has generally adopted ETA movements. Interestingly, because Lemania was acquired by Breguet, and Breguet was acquired by the Swatch Group in 1999, so after a turn, the L990 movement finally returned to Longines’ parent company Swatch Group. Although Longines rarely uses this movement now, in some watches of top brands such as Breguet and Parmigiani, we can see the movement based on the L990. Maybe some people think that Longines’ positioning has been reduced and the movement’s research and development capabilities have also been lost. But in my opinion, this is also ‘blessed by misfortune’. Today’s Longines, regardless of its popularity or influence, is world-class. Even in the entire watch world, Longines is also one of the most profitable watch brands. Compared with the strong R & D capabilities of the movement and the so-called advanced positioning, but compared with the verge of bankruptcy due to poor management and other reasons, I think the former is much better. Let’s put it this way, if you are given the choice, are you willing to be a once-declined noble, or are you a successful businessman worth hundreds of millions now? For the sake of strategic considerations, the Swatch Group has made Omega and Longines focus on high-end and mid-range, respectively, which is very prescient. They did indeed submit a satisfactory transcript in their respective positions. In fact, with the ETA movement factory as a ‘movement giant’, Longines does not need to work hard on the development of the movement. The ETA movement factory will even provide a ‘small stove’ for Longines, providing some movements that only Longines can use. For example, the column wheel chronograph movement based on ETA7750, the L888 movement based on ETA2892, and a power reserve of 64 hours. Longines launched a cost-effective annual calendar this year. The ETA movement factory is the ‘behind the scenes’. It adds an annual calendar module to the ETA movement to help Longines control the price of the annual calendar steadily within 20,000 yuan. Therefore, in terms of positioning like Longines, with the ETA movement factory as a strong backing, it is really not important to produce the movement yourself. The self-produced movement is handed over to Omega and above. Longines has developed from a brand that almost closed down to a world-class brand like today, which has both luck and its own historical heritage as well as the positioning and packaging of the Swatch Group. It combines a clever design, a reasonable price, and in-place publicity. Longines may not be high-end enough, but for many, this is one of the first Swiss watches they can afford, wearing both face and taste.