FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE. As part of its 185th Anniversary celebrations, Longines introduced a new collection and brand ambassador in Beijing
The Imperial Ancestral Temple
This year, Longines, celebrates its 185th anniversary. Naturally, such a momentous event calls for a suitably storied and illustrious venue. And the Saint-Imier, Switzerland-based watch brand found just such a place: Beijing. To be exact, Longines celebrated its 185th anniversary with a grand gala evening held at the historic Imperial Ancestral Temple or Taimiao, situated just outside the Forbidden City.
A New Record
The night of the gala, temperatures in Beijing dipped to single digits and the wind brought it down to near freezing. Fortunately, it was just a short walk from the entrance to the temple’s courtyard where Longines had erected a temporary structure for the event. Inside, guests, brand representatives and media personnel mingled as waiters flitted about with trays of drinks and canapes. The back and top segments of the impromptu hall, however, were made transparent and presented an amazing view of the Hall for Worship of Ancestors.
Along the side walls, meanwhile, were a number of glass displays showcasing one of the stars of the evening: the new record collection. First announced earlier this year at Baselworld, the landmark collection fully embraces the brand’s focus on timeless excellence.
Appearance-wise, the watches are quintessential Longines: classic and elegant. More importantly, watches in the record collection are certified as chronometers by the COSC (the Swiss Official Chronometer Training Institute), which is a momentous first for the brand. The technical advances that allow this leap in performance include, among others, the use of a single-crystal silicon balance spring.
“Tradition, elegance and performance, three values dear to Longines, are perfectly combined in the new collection that we are launching today: the record collection,” said Walter von Känel, president of Longines, during his opening speech at the event. “Indeed, its models do not simply show Longines’ watchmaking expertise, but they are also a display of the brand’s signature classic style.”
A New Face
Zhao Liying and Walter von Känel
Another highlight of the evening was the introduction of Longines’ latest brand ambassador: Zhao liying. The Chinese actress, known primarily for her appearances in, among others, hit TV series such as 2014’s “Boss & Me” and this year’s “Princess Agents,” counts herself as one of the most in-demand performers in China. Unsurprisingly, she also has loyal fanbases in various countries all across the world, including in Indonesia.
“The appointment of Zhao Liying allows the brand to reach out to the younger generations in one of the most important markets”
The appointment of Liying as the newest Ambassador of elegance for Longines, also allows the brand to reach out to the younger generations in one of the most important markets for watches. It certainly helps that Longines is known as much for its ladies’ watches as it is for men’s timepieces.
Above all else, Liying, who now joins a family that includes the likes of Kate Winslet and Aishwarya Rai, effortlessly embodies the slogan of Longines: elegance is an attitude. “Be strong to any challenge,” she said of her interpretation of the motto, “and be sincere to anyone.”
A Touch of History
Inside the the Longines 185th Anniversary Exhibition
As the evening went on, guests were invited to venture out of the party venue for a short walk to the aforementioned hall for worship of Ancestors. A large portion of the hallowed hall was cleared to house the Longines 185th Anniversary exhibition. While several timepieces from the newly introduced record collection were on display, the main attraction of the exhibit was the lineup of some of the brand’s most iconic timepieces, both vintage and modern. Most of these were sourced directly from the Longines museum in the brand’s hometown of Saint-Imier. (pick up a copy of the 2017 issue of DAMAN Caliber for an in-depth walkthrough of the museum.)
Another nod to Longines’ long history was the launch of the historical book “Longines Through Time” written by stéphanie lachat, the brand’s international brand heritage manager. The tome retraces the journey of Longines since 1832 until today. Even as guests joked about the heavy “party favor,” eager hands accepted the books as they were handed out at the exit to the venue.
As the festivities drew to a close and attendees prepared to once again brave the cold air outside, one couldn’t help but look back at how the evening perfectly summed up Longines: A brand rooted in history and committed to classical elegance; but also one with a clear understanding that being timeless means that it must look forever ahead to a future full of new opportunities to expand and innovate.