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From Trotting to Galloping
From distribution strategy, to sport sponsoring and technological developments: Longines explained by Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice-President.

Juan Carlos Capelli, Longines ©  Pluris
 © DR
The Longines Masters is held on the weekend of 5-6 December, at the same time as the Salon du cheval in Villepinte. Inspired by the tennis Grand Slams, this competition includes three show jumping events, held on three continents: the Longines Masters of Paris, the Longines Masters of Los Angeles and the Longines Masters of Hong Kong. Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President and Head of International Marketing, talks about the support provided by the brand to the major autumn high-society meeting.

Pluris – Where does Longines’ adventurous spirit come from?

Juan-Carlos Capelli – I would say that our isolation is a big factor: we spend six months of the year in the snow, in the middle of nowhere, in a village lost in the mountains. We are proud of our origins, in this region where it is usual to ride a horse and where we like skiing. 150 years ago, there were 50 brands in the region. Only one remains: Longines. We are pretty far out, in the heart of neither Zurich nor Geneva. This does not prevent us from having a global vision – it is essential for our very existence. We are also open to technologies: micro-technology plays an essential role.

You say that Longines is a global brand. Is the brand’s vision the same in every market?

When we travel, we realise that Longines is perceived differently from one country to another. However, in reality, we have only one image, a single collection and not a collection for each country. The models may be slightly smaller in China, slightly larger in the United States, especially for women, but that’s all. Longines is characterised by its timeless elegance: we do not follow fashions, but rather consumers’ needs. Our products don’t last only two days. We take this into account when we choose our ambassadors, for example André Agassi and Steffi Graf: they are now retired from competition, but they embody elegance and attitude. Their achievements still resonate today and they use their fame to support strong values, embodied by their humanitarian activities. Longines has been their partner for several years.

How will the retail side of things evolve in the next three years?

For the time being, we have several stores, including in London, New York and Paris, where more than 500 models are for sale. But we do not intend to open stores everywhere at any cost. We will continue to selectively distribute through general networks that have been partners of the brand for several years. Our aim is to have several strategic stores around the world to allow consumers to discover the complete Longines range. A traditional store includes between 50 and 100 models, a company-owned store has more than 500: it is a universe completely dedicated to the brand.

How do you succeed in attracting new generations?

People aged between 18 and 25 years old are not necessarily very attracted to Longines watches. But when they are settled and looking for a watch, they will remember our brand. That’s why we are trying to reach out to them, on the one hand through a whole range of communication tools and on the other hand through the design, in line with people’s image of the brand. Thanks to digital tools, we are able to tell them stories reflecting the brand’s spirit. We are also seeking to reach them via their hobbies and the partnerships we implement at international level. Sport, for example, is transgenerational and enables us to increase our profile.

Indeed, Longines is the partner of several major sport events. In what way is this coherent with the brand’s image?

Nous en tirons un grand bénéfice technologique. Le département R&D de Longines, qui compte 400 ingénieurs, a par exemple développé le Longines Positioning System (LPS). Ce système de chronométrage sophistiqué destiné aux courses hippiques permet de repérer le positionnement de chaque cheval durant toute la course, à 2 cm près, ce qui est aujourd’hui vingt fois plus précis que n’importe quel autre système. Cette technologie améliore l’expérience des spectateurs, qui peuvent suivre les courses en direct, en 2D ou en 3D, sur leur smartphone ou leur tablette. C’est aussi un moyen d’atteindre les nouvelles générations, comme nous le remarquons en Australie et aux Etats-Unis, où les compétitions hippiques sont très suivies par les moins de 30 ans.
[#P#What do these partnerships bring to the brand? It is highly beneficial for us in technological terms. For example, Longines’ R&D department with its 400 engineers have developed the Longines Positioning System (LPS). This sophisticated timing system dedicated to horseracing makes it possible to know the position of each horse during the race, by 2 cm. It is now twenty times more precise than any other system. This technology improves spectators’ experience. They are able to watch races live, in 2D or 3D, on their smartphones or digital tablets. It is also a way to reach new generations, as can be noted in Australia and in the United States, where horse races are largely watched by people under 30 years old.
Crédits photo : Pluris, DR
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