Here at Europa Star, we love a good story and the new BaselWorld introduction by Longines has a very good one indeed.
In 2009, Harry Hofmann, a retired navigator from the old Swissair airline, visited the Longines Museum. While he was there, he presented the company with a Longines watch that he used to wear when he was working for Swissair. This watch, with its 24-hour dial, was part of a series of timepieces produced by Longines in the 1950’s especially for Swissair navigators.
You see, when Hofmann was working for Swissair, one of his responsibilities as navigator was to determine the aircraft’s position and to set up a flight plan, and a reliable watch was an essential piece of equipment. The fact that the flight crossed different time-zones in both directions and that the sun was not always visible as a point of reference necessitated instruments that could immediately indicate the correct part of the day, so a watch with a 24-hour dial was perfect.
The timepiece that Hofmann wore when he was a navigator for Swissair had been specifically manufactured for the Swiss national airline by Longines in the early 1950s, fitted with a Longines calibre 37.9N with a centre seconds hand, which had been designed in the 1940s and used in Longines watches intended for pilots. Technically, it is related to the aviator’s watch – the Longines Weems Second-Setting model, produced in 1927, or the Lindbergh Hour Angle watch made by Longines from 1932 on.
This year, Longines is re-issuing this watch, for both historical and functional reasons, with the name Longines Twenty-Four Hours.
The Longines Twenty-Four Hours is fitted with calibre L704.2, a self-winding movement that features the hour hand making one full circle of the dial in 24 hours. The 47.50 mm stainless steel case features a mat black dial with 24 white Arabic numerals coated with SuperLumiNova and a railway-track minute circle. The watch has a centre seconds hand, like the original model, and there is a date aperture at three o’clock. A sapphire crystal covers the dial and this timepiece also has a transparent caseback, with its own cover, which reveals the delicate details of the movement. The inside of the cover is engraved with the words “Re-edition of a Longines navigation watch exclusively made for Swissair navigators, 1953-1956“ plus the watch number. The Longines Twenty-Four Hours comes on a black alligator strap and is water-resistant to 30 metres.
Harry Hoffman must be proud, and so will anyone else lucky enough to wear this striking watch.
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS by Longines
The theme this year for Hamilton Watch Com-pany is ‘Modern Times’ – something which accurately captures the direction of the brand. Quintessentially American, Hamilton is trying to balance between a rich heritage while remaining cutting edge and ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, materials, styling and features.
As Hamilton prepares for its 120 year anniversary, which is next year, this year the brand is introducing models that honour the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
1940s — Hamilton Khaki SkyMaster UTC
Inspiration for the new Hamilton Khaki SkyMaster UTC came from the pages of the company’s own history books, more precisely from documentation relating to the 1940s. At that time the Hamilton Watch Company was proud to be supplying sophisticated navigational instruments, in the form of marine chronometres. The Hamilton Khaki SkyMaster UTC pays a direct tribute to the Hamilton chronometres integrating sidereal time, which measured time relative to the motion of the stars around the earth, as opposed to that of the sun. This new trio of timepieces with GMT functionality uses contemporary design and current airport abbreviations to celebrate the impressive voyage that navigational timekeeping has made to modernity.
1950s — Khaki Pioneer Auto Chrono
The new Khaki Pioneer Auto Chrono is a 42mm timepiece powered by the new H31 movement, with a 60-hour power reserve. This is the watch chosen by Harrison Ford for his charity Conser-vation International.
1960s — Hamilton Thin-O-Matic
Recalling the proud heritage of Hamilton, the Thin-O-Matic is a contemporary execution filled with retro details, including gently curved dials and second hands, snap back closures, plus an engraved Hamilton heritage logo, integrating the brand’s famous crest, on the case back. A nine-link metal bracelet option faithfully yet playfully reflects the 1960s predecessors thanks to its ‘H’-form elements. The alternative tapered, vintage-style leather strap reveals stitching on the reverse, an appropriate visual trademark of craftsmanship. This watch is also available in Hamilton gold (a special colour of gold plating unique to the brand), really completing the vintage statement.
KHAKI SKYMASTER UTC and THIN-O-MATIC by Hamilton
1970s — Hamilton Pan Europ
The Hamilton Pan Europ is an automatic chronograph dedicated to the fascinating theme of changing times. Inspired by a Hamilton timepiece of the same name, originally introduced in 1971, this watch mixes nostalgia with mod-ernity. The year 1971, also the number of pieces in this limited edition and boldly engraved on the case back, is a significant date in the history of Hamilton. It marks the foundation of the brand’s inclusion in the Swatch Group (then SSIH). In both stature and nature, the Hamilton Pan Europ is set to play a leading role in the new ‘Modern Times’ series by Hamilton.
Ladies Hamilton Vintage
This year’s Ladies Vintage pieces come in two shapes, square and oval, treated with a special silver PVD coating to give it a true vintage look. These pieces were requested by customers in Japan, who asked Hamilton to bring back models from the past in a very accurate way.
Jazzmaster Spirit of Liberty Limited Edition
Everything is brought together by one special limited edition model, the Jazzmaster Spirit of Liberty. Hamilton took the marine chronograph and equipped it with its proprietary H21 movement, reworked the finishing, redesigned the pushers, and made it available in three references, each limited to 1892 pieces worldwide.
Inscribed on the case back is a quote from the person who gave his name to the company, Andrew Hamilton: “Without liberty life is a misery”.
Hamilton is doing really well, one of the best performers in the strong Swatch Group. Says new Hamilton president Sylvain Dolla, “Hamilton used to be a small brand in the group, and now we are the top of the mid sized brands. We have a lot of innovation. We can go very fast and the decisions can be made quickly. In some countries, we are a very big player, like in Japan and Italy. The brand is still relatively small but we are a major player. We are number six in automatic movements in Switzerland, and we now count in the group. We are benchmarking ourselves as a leader in the industry.”
PAN EUROPE and JAZZMASTER SPIRIT OF LIBERTY LIMITED EDITION by Hamilton
Not Just Basel
There has been a movement in the industry to go away from just one series of introductions at BaselWorld, instead introducing product strategically all year long. Hamilton is one of the leaders of this effort.
“For us, the year is 12 months,” Dolla confirms. “For the end consumer, you have to bring novelties and animate the collection all the time. Five years ago, January was a dead month, but now it is very strong. In countries like China, the big period is Chinese New Year, not our traditional holiday. As long as what you bring is good, the retailers love it, because it keeps things fresh. Novelties are still a very big part of the business.”
One last unique offering is the new Lipstick, a woman’s watch only available through the Hamilton Lab. It is shaped like a lipstick with a watch dial on it, then when you turn the end, another time zone comes out. It comes with a necklace, so it can be worn around the neck, but Hamilton will provide a way to wear the Lipstick on the wrist and on the belt as well.
- Swatch Group – Part 1 : The group, the brands, BLANCPAIN and BREGUET
- Swatch Group – Part 2 : JAQUET DROZ and OMEGA
- Swatch Group – Part 4 : TISSOT and RADO
- Swatch Group – Part 5 : SWATCH, CERTINA and MIDO
Source: Europa Star April - May 2011 Magazine Issue