Arena Derby! Jumping Into The World Of The Longines Masters New York
Longines continues their equestrian dominance with an exhilarating display at the Longines Masters. We also sit down with Matthieu Baumgartner, Longines Vice President of Marketing.
Longines and the world of equestrian sports competitions go together better than Coca Cola and Popcorn, and for this Indiana boy, that's saying a lot! Experiencing the Kentucky Derby last year with Longines (read HERE) was an experience I’ll never forget. While this year’s derby was mired by controversy, the Longines Masters New York was subdued affair which pitted the U.S. vs. Europe in a masterful display of show jumping.
The Longines Masters
The third stop on the 2019 Longines Masters series was Long Island's NYCB Live Arena (otherwise known at Nassau Coliseum). This legendary venue has hosted some of the biggest acts in entertainment, from Elvis Presley to Led Zeppelin and even the Stanley Cup Finals, and the iconic site has seen it all. For the Longines Masters, NYCB Live rolled out the red carpet for Longines and their guests, including Watchonista!
A viewing platform was assembled which overlooked all the action on the newly created dirt course. This three-day event hosts a variety of indoor equestrian sports including dramatic displays of equestrian theater and speed trials around a custom course. Watchonista was present on the second day of competition, which saw two equestrian powers compete. The United States was pitted against Europe in the Riders Masters Cup. A show jumping competition which involves an ever-changing obstacle course.
I'm saddened to report that Team Europe roundly defeated the United States team, made up of Pius Schwizer, Edward Levy, Olivier Philippaerts, Darragh Kenny and Harrie Smolders. This isn’t the first time Team Europe has jumped into victory circle. Just last December, the team took similar honors in Paris.
The HydroConquest, the Official Watch of the Longines Masters
To go along with the Longines Masters’ iconic trophy, winners also received a Longines watch. They were awarded by the brand's U.S. President Pascal Savoy and V.P. of Marketing Matthieu Baumgartner.
This new HydroConquest Ceramic draws inspiration from aquatic sports, yet looks just as good on land as it does in the sea. Sized at 44mm, this 300-meter stainless-steel diver comes in a radiant blue motif with matching rubber strap or brushed metal bracelet. A unidirectional ceramic bezel completes the look. Built to withstand the rigors the depths, yet entirely at home at the Longines Masters.
Interview with Matthieu Baumgartner
On the occasion of the Longines Masters, we also had the opportunity to sit down with Matthieu Baumgartner, Longines Vice President of Marketing. Baumgartner was making his first visit stateside in his new role. It was an excellent opportunity to get a sense of where the brand is headed, and who Baumgartner was rooting for at the Longines Masters.
Josh Shanks: Matthieu! A pleasure to meet you! How are you finding this year’s event?
Matthieu Baumgartner: So far, so good! Personally, it's my first time at this Longines Masters event, so I like the atmosphere. I like the feel of the competition, also the show around it. So, it's good!
JS: So, obviously, you [Longines] weren't at Baselworld this year. But you’ve had a few townhouse events, retailer events, and regional events. What can we expect from Longines in 2019?
MB: Yes, this is the first year that Longines didn’t attend Basel. The strategy that we chose when it comes to meeting our retailer and distribution partners is to go into the key markets. See more of them. And, spend more time not being in the hectic frame of Baselworld where we're all running from one meeting to another. And after a couple of these salons style events, I think we can say that this format has proven to be successful.
JS: Watchonista was at the Kentucky Derby last year with Longines, and now we're here. Obviously, the world of equestrian sports is quite strong with Longines. What other worlds does Longines want to get into? What other sports or activities is the brand rooted in?
MB: Well, equestrian sports, as you rightly said, and the various disciplines such as show jumping, dressage, and horse racing. Equestrian sports are a key pillar of our marketing and communication strategy. So, in terms of partnerships, the most important is equestrian sports, which we are also strengthening when there are opportunities. That means that we are not explicitly looking at other territories of sports partnerships. We feel that we have a balanced set of partnerships and events with equestrian sports, alpine skiing, archery, the Commonwealth Games, and gymnastics. So, we feel that looking at the sports partnerships and where Longines plays a very crucial role as the official timekeeper and official partner, is really of the essence to those sports.
Especially with equestrian sports, we feel that there is a high affinity enabling us to speak to both male and female sports audiences. This is important to Longines as our products are structured to appeal to both men and women.
JS: When we look, there is a vibrant history within Longines. One of your key activities used to be Formula 1. Back in the '70s/'80's, you would see Longines of everywhere in F1. Within the brand, is there any nostalgia for that era?
MB: Interestingly enough, Formula 1, probably at that time, helped Longines in terms of brand awareness, but now it is no longer a field where that makes sense or is relevant to us. As we feel that with the partnerships that we have, we are reaching out to the right audiences. But, indeed, the days when Longines was solely committed to Formula 1 is part of our history, so we're not neglecting.
JS: Let’s talk aviation, your recent vintage inspired aviation pieces have really struck a chord with collectors
MB: Absolutely! The first heritage piece that Longines created back in 1987 was a Lindbergh Hour Angle watch, and then there have been many more that have come back to life. We feel that this is a field where Longines has a strong legitimacy and could be even louder in the future.
JS: Plus, these historical pieces are selling out at retailers. Like, the BigEye, which is super hard to get from most retailers. From the brand's standpoint, did that exceed your expectations? Did you know that it would be so wildly popular?
MB: I think this is rather challenging at Longines when we are in the creation process to determine exactly what products will be hugely successful. Of course, with the design, history, and what not we can create exceptional timepieces. So we do know by experience and by having done this for quite a while now, what is likely to draw attention. But that being said, sometimes there are also surprises. Timepieces or collections that we did not expect to be so successful that prove to be a hit in the market.
JS: Ok I have to ask, who are you rooting for out there?
MB: I guess we have to root for Europe! I think we are in the minority tonight [laughs]