At a time when the Swiss watchmaking industry is going from strength to strength in development of mechanical movements, it is strange for a brand to churn out a quartz movement and mobilise significant resources around it. Well, the 185-year old manufacture, Longines has done just that. The company has set a new milestone with the launch of its Conquest V.H.P—a revolutionary movement as the Swiss watchmaker deems it. However, one may be forced to question the logic behind measuring the precision of a quartz watch, a domain where the Japanese specialise with brands like Seiko, Citizen and Casio to boot. But Longines has a focused approach and has already gauged the competition that it will face from the Japanese.
The Conquest V.H.P. has a precision rate of +/-5 seconds per year and is equipped with a date and perpetual calendar function, which does not have to be adjusted till 2400. Currently, no watch in the market can make such claims. But apart from posing a challenge to Japanese domination over quartz watches, global expansion is also a key move behind this launch says Walter von Kanel, president, Longines.
The brand currently dominates the Chinese market, which is definitely more drawn towards mechanical watches except the ladies, where the two-hand quartz models do well. With the new Conquest V.H.P., the company wants to offer an attractive proposition to the buyers in Europe and USA with a watch that is competitively priced. The new model is available in a three-hand version as well as a chronograph in the price range of CHF 950 and CHF 1550.
The Conquest V.H.P was launched at the Neuchâtel Observatory, where about 100 journalists from all over the globe (including us) got a chance to see the sporty yet elegant timepiece. This is the same venue where the first quartz clock with atomic precision developed by the brand was certified in 1954. It was housed in the Chronocinégines, a pioneering instrument in timekeeping, which could measure up to 1/110th of a second.
So, dabbling in quartz technology is not unfamiliar territory for the brand. In 1969, the St.Imier-based company launched the Ultra-Quartz, the first quartz wristwatch conceived to be mass-produced. But it was 1984 that saw the launch of the Conquest V.H.P., setting a precision record for that time.
The new V.H.P model is an extension of this philosophy with attractive features, all controlled by using the intelligent crown. According to Kanel, the Swiss watchmaker wanted an exclusive USP and that could only be achieved by impacting the precision rate. A basic ETA movement is precise to +/- 10 s/year. So, in comparison, the V.H.P is far ahead. The watch also has an in-built system that resynchronises the hands after exposure to a shock or a magnetic field using the GPD (gear position detection) system, since that is the biggest enemy in smooth functioning of any timepiece.
The maverick boss at Longines is also very clear that he will refrain from getting in the ‘Connected’ game, a trajectory most of the Swiss watch brands are following and continue focussing on analog watches.
After all, the future of quartz is now!