Sexy Time

01/17/2008

My grandmother died an untimely death in 1947. She was, among other things, a loving mother of three beautiful children, a wonderful dancer, and the ethereally exquisite reigning Miss Central America. Men wore pins of her photo on their lapels and stories of how she stopped traffic when she crossed the street are family legend. Although I never met her, I’ve drawn close to her through the very few items she left behind that have survived the past sixty years and transit across many countries. Of these few items – a handful of her beauty pageant pins, her portrait (which now sits on my mantle,) a few newspaper clippings – nothing has made me feel more connected to her elusive spirit than a 1940’s Longines watch that my grandfather gave her. Its slender satin strap and tiny diamond-framed face, no more than a centimeter and a half around, make me think about how lovely her delicate wrists must have looked as she wore it. About three years ago the watch disappeared and I haven’t seen it since.

Because of my nostalgic connection to this brand I’ve grown to love the perfectly understated designs they created for elegant early and mid-century women. They make you think of a time when ladies were ladies – before any distinguished woman would have dreamt of wearing a male-styled chronograph / diving / multi-time zone telling timepiece. Understatedly confident, naturally sexy, and finely-crafted, the watches represent the qualities that I like to think my grandmother exuded.Le Compagnie des Montres Longines Francillon has been based in Saint-Imier since 1832 making 2007 their 175th anniversary. Their timepieces are considered among the finest in the world. In addition to inventing the “winding crown” (before that all watches were would with a key) Longines has an illustrious history. Their clocks have timed fourteen Olympic Games, 31 Tours de France, and are the timekeepers for Formula 1 racing, which has led to a close partnership with Ferrari. They are official supplier since 1919 to the International Aeronautics Federation, timing and certifying certify numerous world flight records, not least of which include Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 first nonstop solo crossing of the North Atlantic. In 1927 Longines timed the first transatlantic flight, which lasted 33 hours and 30 minutes. A Longines watch even graced the wrist of Amelia Earhart.The best vintage Longines pieces can be found at estate sales or great vintage shops with a good eye. The most beautiful one I’ve seen belonged to my grandmother but I would take one of their 18k gold 1950’s slip-ons to keep my spirits up until it makes its way back to me. (ahem Matt.)

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