Watch's origin: Swiss
Number of jewels: 17
Type of Watch: Pocket
Longines, or The Long Meadows has had a spectacular run since they began in 1832 by Auguste Agassiz of Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Initially, Agassiz oversaw comptoir watch-making, or piece-work done by local townsfolk and farmers. All these watches were hand-made — no spare parts, no interchangeability. Health problems forced Agassiz to turn his watch-making enterprise over to his nephew, Francillion, who realized that to grow, the company needed to go beyond the comptoir piecework method and mechanize. In 1866 the Agassiz family bought The Long Meadows by the river Suze, designed their own manufacturing equipment, and propelled themselves into worldwide renown and prosperity. Fiercely protective of their name, winged hourglass logo and manufacturing practices long before such attention was the norm, Longines proved to be leaders in the industry through World Wars and economic upheavals. They were among the first companies to buy into the idea of wristlets — in 1905 — long before the First World War and the international clamoring for watches for the wrist. The Weems Patent for navigational watches, for which Lindbergh was so enthusiastic; Grand Prix awards, chronograph innovations; outstanding military timepieces and exquisite styling are just a few accomplishments of one of the world's most exciting watch houses.
Longines was already one of the most sought-after timepieces in the world in 1891 when, at the request of the Springfield Bicycle Club, they donated two silver chronograph timers to the important September event, to be given as second prize awards (!) for the two mile tandem race at Hampden Park in Springfield, Mass. on Sept 11, 1891.
We’re fortunate to have a detailed account of the race, courtesy of the “Springfield Republican”:
“Only three teams of the 14 entered responded to the call of the starter’s bell for the two mile tandem handicap. The class A racers who were down to compete were all drawn, having their eyes steadfastly fixed on the world’s record match, which was to follow. The failure of Draper and Geyler, the Philadelphia pair who made such a fine showing Thursday, to come out against Banker and Brinker, was a manifest disappointment to the crowd. Banker and Brinker had the scratch, with Donnelly and Bilyen at 125 yards and Fuller and Herman at 220 yards, a manifestly excessive lead in view of the performance of the latter pair in Hartford this week. At the pistol-shot Donnelly and Bilyen started at a clipping pace and at the quarter had gained 10 yards and at the half, fully 30. Meanwhile, the two B’s had been working away with the regular swing and push that come from long racing together and were gaining some. Donnelly and Bilyen had evidently overdone the spurt as they began to fall back again on the second round. The Buffalo pair were rapidly closing up now and caught Donnelly and mate at the mile and half. They passed them on the stretch toward the quarter and then pedaled furiously in pursuit of Fuller and Herman. They gained tremendously on the last quarter but could not overcome the handicap, the Hartford pair reaching the tape fully 40 yards in advance. The time of the scratch men, 5.00 3.5 and a world’s record, shows the telling pace of the contest. The summary:
Fuller and Herman (220 yards) __ 1
Banker and Brinker (scratch) __ 2
Donnelly and Bilyen (125 yards)__ 3
Prizes: 1st, two diamond rings, $75 each; 2nd two silver timers, $50 each.
Because the strong ranking of “B-Boys” from Buffalo – Banker and Brinker – they had to “start from scratch”; the two other teams were given a handicap. The performance of the two wasn’t enough to overcome the handicap but was enough to set a world’s record.
This race might have had more influence on modern bicycling than one might think: Mssrs. Banker and Brinker were riding a state of the art bicycle for the world-record event, custom-made for them by the Buffalo Bicycle Works. The company wanted the two men to test the bicycle and what was considered a novel idea: pneumatic tires. This world’s record was set with the first bicycle with pneumatic tires. Apparently the idea caught on and solid tires began to become passé.
“The B Boys” went on to fame in the world of newfangled bicycle racing; Mr. Banker had a solid career in his own right, while Mr. Brinker, after a few years of fame, slowly disappeared from the public eye and was lost to history. His treasured world record award disappeared with him for more than a 100 years – until now.
We are humbled to be able to offer the Longines chronograph timer awarded to Mr. Brinker for his contribution to the race in remarkably original condition. It is handsome and rare in its own right, with a perfect micro-graduated red-and-black porcelain dial marked Longines; delicate, blued hands and a completely original sterling silver case. Open its outer cover and you will see a most remarkable, historic engraving:
Frank M. Brinker
Sept. 11 1891
Measuring 52mm in diameter, it exudes an aura one craves from a period vintage timepiece – balanced, well-designed, brilliantly engineered and created by one of the finest jewelers in the world. In addition, it was awarded for a world-record bicycling event during which groundbreaking sports advances were tested and validated.
We have completely cleaned, oiled and calibrated its complicated factory-original Longines movement so that it keeps time as it would have for Mr. Brinker 121 odd years ago. We have also custom-fitted the watch in its own hardwood presentation box. It's a stunning timepiece worthy of our most discerning client!
A special thanks to Edwin Onyschak and Maggie Humberston for their gracious assistance and research!