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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Longines Celebrates Triple Crown Victory And Equestrian Heritage

Jennifer Judkins and Juan Carlos Capelli, center, both of Longines, award Jockey Victor Espinoza, left, and Bob Baffert, right, Longines Conquest Classic 18k gold timepieces after Espinoza rode American Pharaoh to win the first Triple Crown in 37 years. Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/Invision for Longines/AP Images

By Gretchen Friedrich
Jewelry News Network Social Media Manager

Saturday's Belmont Stakes set racing history when American Pharoah became the first horse to win the coveted “Triple Crown” of horse racing since 1978. 

The win also represented a marketing coup for Longines. The longtime official timekeeper for the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the Swiss luxury watch brand began as the official timekeeper for the Belmont Stakes in 2013. Saturday marked the first opportunity for the brand to present 18k rose gold Conquest Classic watches to mark the occasion to the winning team (owner Zayat Stables, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza). Winning team members also received Longines Conquest Classic watches following each victory in the Derby and Preakness.

American Pharoah secured his spot in the very exclusive “Triple Crown” club by winning the Belmont Stakes by five and a half lengths. Not exactly wire to wire, but he was a solid contender the entire race.

Victor Espinoza rides American Pharaoh to victory at the 147th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park Race Track, to secure the first Triple Crown win in 37 years. The longines clock prominent in the background as the race's Official Timekeeper. Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/Invision for Longines/AP Images

The term “wire to wire” is a familiar one in the world of horse racing. It refers to a horse that leads the race from the starting gate to the finish line. The term resides comfortably in the vernacular of racing enthusiasts. It is also closely associated with Longines, which is interwoven into the silks of horse racing history.

Beginning in Es Longines, Switzerland, in 1832, the company has a rich history in equestrian sports. Awards and accolades highlight achievements, not only in the realm of monitoring time, but also how to apply time calculations in the context of competition. Over the years, Longines has won dozens of awards based on its frontier spirit in the world of time calculating mechanics.

Longines first stopwatch was perfected at its Swiss headquarters in 1888, then shipped to the United States. It was a true advancement for the horse racing statisticians. Casual observers could “clock” a horse’s race time alongside trainers, owners, or serious gamblers. Anyone who had interest in a horse’s performance, against the clock for improvement verification, or against the competition’s stats, could acquire relevant data.

A significant timekeeping apparatus appeared in the 1912 Gymnastics Festival in Basel, Switzerland. Wires were attached to Longines clocks. Simple, yet effective, this device took precision in sports to a whole new level. The wires started and stopped the clocks, hence the term “wire to wire.”

In 1954, Longines was the first to combine photography with timekeeping. Its quartz clock was attached to a camera to record photos and time simultaneously. This is the premise of the “photo finishes” seen today in sporting events of all kinds, especially horse racing.

Over the years, Longines has become more involved in all aspects of horse racing. 

Robert Masterson, owner of the horse named Tepin, center, accepts a Longines Classic Conquest timepiece from Jennifer Judkins, center left, and a trophy from Juan Carlos Capelli of Longines, center right, after jockey Julien Leparoux wins the Longines "Just a Game" race Saturday, prior to the Belmont Stakes. Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/Invision for Longines/AP Images

It involves the crowd at events by hosting contests such as “Most Elegant Woman” at Belmont, with the winner receiving a Longines watch. It also formed a group that keeps statistics, and it sponsors the “Just a Game” race at Belmont, held prior to the Belmont Stakes. 

It all coincides with the Longines tradition of providing winning owners and jockeys with watches at the end of the prized races. A tradition it began in 1938. 

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