Longines, which is a part of the Swatch Group, has now become the official timekeeper and timepiece maker of the Kentucky Derby and its track Churchill Downs. They recently awarded the winners of the Kentucky Derby 2011 with Longines Column-Wheel Chronograph watch. This is a special watch for which they have collaborated with ETA to develop a new movement for Longines that would capture the classic nature of the traditional watch brand. The new development is an automatic chronograph but it uses the traditional column-wheel transmission system.
If you go through the best chronograph movements you will find that most of them are column-wheel chronographs. Longines has maintained the classic touch not only for the movement but in the design and its execution as well. The watch is set in a steel case that is 39mm wide. The dial design is extremely classic. The exclusive movement inside of the watch is the mechanical caliber L688.2 which provides the tricompax chrono subdial layout. With the alligator strap the watch exudes a very elegant and luxurious look. It does look like it has been created for people living on luxury ranches.
The watch is finally a recreation of a classic Longines watch design. There are some other classic touches in the watch like the dauphine hands with thin strips of lume. In addition there are applied hour and minute markers. First of the Longines Column-Wheel Chronograph went to “Animal Kingdom” the winning horse who recorded a time of 2.04 minutes. The Swiss brand rewarded the horse owner Barry Irwin, jockey Johnny Velazquez, and trainer Graham Motion each with the classically inspired timepiece. The historic luxury watch brand is fighting for a larger share of the American market and a key role in popular US cultural events will help them get the visibility of the right kind and push their sales in the US high end luxury watch market.