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BAD CRISIS: Longines

Longines-Ascot.jpg

Longines is a juggernaut of a brand for Swatch Group, believed to have sold 2.1 million watches worth CHF 1.65 million last year – almost 80% of them through wholesale — according to Morgan Stanley.

Its positioning as a highly desirable, affordable luxury, Swiss watch brand is perfect for the current market, but there have been virtually no new watches for its marketeers to build momentum around.

Searching back through my inbox in May (when this article went to press for the print magazine), the last Longines launch that came my way was in November, an elegant 1832 Heritage with models for both men and women.

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There have since been some launches, including the Longines Spirit three-hand automatic, a classic that is likely to be a solid commercial success.

With challenger brands like Christopher Ward and Seiko moving in on Longines’ turf and highly active since the beginning of the year, the brand will need to put on a show when normality returns.

Swatch Group has said that manufacturing has continued throughout the crisis, although there are no details on how much capacity has been trimmed.

The challenge for Longines over the summer is to unveil and distribute fresh collections in time for the holiday season.

If it chooses to go this route, we could see 12 months of sales squeezed into three.

1 Comment

  1. I went from being somebody who would not even bother go into a Longines boutique In London to the happy owner of a Heritage 1938 Military hand wound watch (a reissue of a reference manufactured for Czech Army officers prior to the start of WW II) in the course of the last year. But I have still had difficulty warming up to the non-heritage references even though there are some quality watches to be found. The catalogue is too vast and cluttered for me to develop any strong sense of the brand. The brand has been a powerhouse in China but It seems to be regarded as a brand of secondary importance in the U.S. where I live. I am a Grand Seiko owner and an admirer of some of the newer Seiko reissues. Both Grand Seiko and Seiko convey a sense of brand purpose and mission which provides me with a clear sense of those brands even though Seiko has a vast catalogue like Longines. Your query about Longines’ lack of new watch introductions seems secondary to the question of what is the brand purpose and mission of Longines? While it is obvious that selling watches and making a profit are the desired end result of Longines’ brand purpose and mission, this end result is not a substitute for a brand purpose and mission. Introducing new watches into the marketplace without a cohesive brand purpose and mission may not cure the enigma of Longines being one of the largest watch brands in the world but one which in many quarters of the world (excepting of course China) is regarded without the kind of enthusiasm or admiration.that keeps companies at the top both in terms of distribution and end sales to consumers.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder