For a luxury brand, finding a testimonial is not an easy task. Longines' defining slogan is 'elegance is an attitude,' and this leaves no room for compromise. Longines watches are hallmarked by style, heritage, and a sports element underscored by grace and balance. The Longines testimonials are always perfectly aligned with these values: personalities of the calibre of Andre Agassi whose foundation, The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, perpetuates his victories on the tennis courts in the form of philanthropic activities.
But Longines chose its most important testimonial many years ago: the horse. The brand has been supporting major equestrian events since 1926, when it became the official timekeeper for the Concours Hippique International Officiel de Genève in 1926., and the impeccable logic of their strategy becomes apparent when you visit one of these events. The latest was the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) World Cup Jumping Final held in Lyon from 17 to 21 April 2014, a trophy that represents a glittering prize for all those involved in the equestrian world, and a fascinating performance for spectators.
In the same way that a luxury watch is not something for everyone, the FEI World Cup Jumping Final represents the final goal in a long and demanding career. But the protagonist is the horse, an animal that at this level of competition costs upwards of two million euros (one of the latest sales reached 11 million). The rider has to develop the relationship over the course of months or years, so that both can trust each other during the minute or so in which they will be flying over fences. The horse has the power to propel itself and the rider over the fence; the rider (unlike the horse) can see which fences are double and so need more speed, and which fences are next on the route, mentally measuring the number of strides and cutting the corners as much as he or she dares. Because it's all about time, and a bar knocked down becomes an extra four seconds, putting the pair way down the rankings.
The tension is such, in both man and horse, that sometimes it goes wrong. The horse may pull up and stop short of a fence, and two refusals mean disqualification. Sometimes they may totally mistime a jump, the horse stumbling and throwing the rider, again meaning the end of the competition for them. But most of the time, it goes right, and the sight of this dream team, a powerhouse of rippling muscle ridden by an immaculate rider whose every movement is honed by the quest for perfection, is one of grace and beauty.
It's a sport of meaningful values. Men and women compete together. The riders are of all ages, from twenty or less to fifty or more. Spectators are fiercely competitive and cheer on the horses of their own country, but each clear round gets a rapturous applause, and if the pair should mess up, the crowd are generous in their sympathy, encouraging the horse as it at last clears the fence at the third attempt, a noble (though futile) gesture that helps allay the disappointment of elimination.
At the 2014 FEI World Cup Jumping Final, part of the prize for the winner was a Longines Conquest Classic, from the new collection that is a perfect expression of Longines’ long-standing support of equestrian sports. This timepiece, Official Watch for the event, is a steel chronograph housing the exclusive L688 column-wheel calibre. The column-wheel feature makes the watch exceptionally user-friendly, with just the lightest touch of the pusher needed to start and stop the mechanism, and to reset the hands to zero. With black or white dial and black alligator strap, this reference is both very practical and very attractive, ideal both for timing equestrian events and for everyday use, whether in the office or for leisure time.
This year's World Cup was won by Daniel Deusser (Germany) riding Cornet D’Amour, after five days of intense competition. Second was Ludger Beerbaum (Germany) on Chiara, and Scott Brash (United Kingdom)( on Ursula XII. Daniel Deusser began riding as a child, both horses and BMX bikes, and qualified for the regional BMX championships at a young age. But showjumping soon became his principal activity, and he took second place at his first FEI World Cup event in 2007. He has been riding Cornet D’Amour since June 2012, obtaining a good result at the Nations Cup in Canada. The horse suffered an injury in November 2012 and was unable to compete for two months. But he came back in excellent form, winning the German Championships in Balve.
The last round at Lyon was nerve-wracking. The packed arena was in total silence when Deusser started the course, the last to go. His horse’s hooves hit the top pole of the very first fence, drawing an intake of breath from the thousands of spectators. But the bar stayed on, and the pair completed the course clear, and took the title. Cornet D’Amour is a beautiful 11-year old grey stallion: undoubtedly the perfect testimonial for Longines.