In 1832 Auguste Agassiz opened a small ‘comptoir’ (workshop) in St. Imier. One of Auguste’s sisters married Marc Francillon, a shopkeeper from Lausanne and in 1934 they had a son, Ernest Francillon. At that time watch-making in the area used the skills of people working away from the comptoir, often at home. In 1866, Ernest Francillon constructed a factory on fields at “Les Longines”, near to St. Imier, and brought all of the watch-making skills under one roof – this was the first Longines factory.
Longines developed aviators’ watches and cockpit instruments and led the field as time-keepers to the world of sports, developing precision stop watches for athletes. Longines was at the Olympic Games and ensured that athletes’ performances were accurately recorded.
By the time Longines was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the registration of the brand-name and logotype – the winged hour-glass – in 1967, the Saint-Imier watchmakers had made 15 million watches and sold them all. For all these reasons, therefore, Longines is a virtually inexhaustible mine of reasonably priced collectors’ items, ranging from pocket chronometers to classic wrist-watches and milestones of quartz technology.