Inspired by its predecessor from 1968, the new Longines Ultra-Chron is in fact a culmination of over 100 years of mastery of high-frequency sports timekeeping instruments.
A CENTURY OF HIGH-FREQUENCY SPORTS TIMEKEEPING
In 1968, Longines launched the Ultra-Chron Diver, the first dive watch to be equipped with a high-frequency movement. At the time, it had already established itself as a pioneer in both sports timekeeping and high-frequency technology. As early as 1878, Longines had developed its first chronograph movement, which was soon fitted in a case engraved with a jockey and his horse. These stopwatches were highly favoured among jockeys as well as spectators of the races.
In 1912, a new step was taken when Longines entered into its first official partnership with a show jumping event in Lisbon. Since then, it has timed numerous equestrian competitions and disciplines including dressage and flat racing. To measure the closely spaced competitors, Longines produced stopwatches with split-second hands as well as high-beat movements accurate to 1/10th or 1/100th of a second.
By virtue of its Swiss origin, Longines also excelled at timing winter sports from early on, beginning with the International Week of Winter Sports in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Some years later, its stopwatches were timing the World Ski Championships. In 1939, Longines presented a skiing timer with a high-beat movement and split-second hand, measuring 1/10th of a second. Nine years later, it was selected to time the legendary Kandahar downhill race in Sankt Anton, Austria. The organisers of the Ski World Championships of 1950 in Aspen, US, chose Longines to be the official timekeeper. Today, the Swiss watchmaker is the official partner and timekeeper of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup tour and Championships.
When cars from all over Europe participated in the first edition of the Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1949, timekeeping was entrusted to Longines, a status it held for more than 30 years. Along the way, it launched a special punch printing device called Printogines. Equipped with a clock with an eight-day power reserve, it allowed contestants to punch their own control card at each checkpoint over 5,000km of distance. The device proved to be so useful that Longines was appointed to time all the famous rallies of its period, including the Coupe des Alpes, the RAC Rally of Great Britain, the Thousand Lakes in Finland as well as the Rallye Acropolis in Greece and the Rallye de Cote d’Ivoire in Africa.
In 1951, Longines was asked to time the world’s leading cycling event, Tour de France. The race across France was an excellent opportunity to test a new system that combined a camera at the finish line with a device recording each contestant’s time on film. This timing system solved the photo-finish problem when closely grouped competitors reached the line at nearly the same time. As a matter of fact, the former president of the French Cycling Federation, Jean Pitallier, personally timed every edition of Tour de France from 1973 to 1980 with a pair of Longines high-frequency split-second stopwatches.
The highlight of its 20th-century sports timekeeping career came in 1949 when Longines introduced a timing system for motor races capable of recording 1/10th of a second via a series of photos. This led the brand to timing the famous Grand Prix de Monaco in 1950, the naugural season of Formula 1, the Indianapolis 500, as well as Formula 1 races in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Spa, Zandvoort and Bern, along with numerous other racing events in the following years. By 1954, Longines had developed Chronotypogines, which used a sensor to automatically start and stop time. In 1980, Longines launched a new method to time each car independently by using radio waves, which led to its appointment as official timekeeper for all Formula 1 races from 1982 to 1992.
LONGINES HISTORICAL HIGH-FREQUENCY INSTRUMENTS
2022: LONGINES ULTRA-CHRON
The new Ultra-Chron was inspired by the aesthetic code and professional dive features of the 1968 model. Featuring a uni-directional rotating bezel and a screwed-in case-back and crown, it offers great legibility and is water-resistant to 300m. Its instantly recognisable 43mm cushion shaped steel case is fitted with a diving bezel that boasts a sapphire insert with luminescent accents. The eye-catching black grained dial features a white minute track with alternating Super-LumiNova-coated batons and rhodium-plated appliques. The original Ultra-Chron logo is proudly applied on the dial and embossed on the case-back. The modern edition is distinguished by a red minute hand, coated in Super-LumiNova for optimal legibility.
At the heart of the timepiece is the Calibre L836.6, a high-frequency in-house movement with its balance spring oscillating at a whopping 36,000 beats per hour (10 beats every second). These movements, which Longines pioneered in 1914 (to time 1/10th of a second) and 1916 (to time 1/100th of a second), improved precision in timekeeping. From 1959 onwards, Longines made use of the high-beat movements to increase the accuracy of its watches. Thanks to a reduction of the disruptive effects of shocks, or of changes in the position of the movement, the high-beat movement proves to be more stable.
Designed to both evoke an emotional response from aficionados of iconic timepieces and win over newcomers who wish to wear a bit of horological history on their wrists, the Longines Ultra-Chron comes in a leather strap or steel bracelet, along with a black NATO strap made of recycled material.