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Timekeeping
by longines

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The longines timing team
What kind of life do the timing team lead – these men we never see but who travel the whole world to time the most prestigious competitions ? What is their experience of the snowy slopes ?
A multifaceted activity
While the composition of the team has changed over the years, there has been little evolution in the basic profession of sports timer for more than half a century. Despite technological progress, their job has remained essentially the same. The journey from manual or semi-manual devices to electronic equipment and more recently computerised data processing has not led to any great changes in the basic job, however. It has in fact always required the same qualities of calm, availability, staying power, discipline, meticulous work, a sense of responsibility and the ability to improvise. The job of the sports timer is a multifaceted task, depending on the context: carpenter, mechanic, electronics expert, driver or even dealing with the media. A new and highly important activity has recently been included, however, which focuses on computer technology and data processing. Nowadays, apart from mastering timekeeping, a sports timer has to be able to manage the data obtained in order to make it comprehensible and interesting, in other words to ensure that the spectators appreciate what they are seeing and can follow the skiers’ results. Whether it be on the spot, on television, on websites, for mobile phone applications or any other medium, the IT specialists in the timing team are responsible for managing complex data and relaying it in real time as fully and comprehensibly as possible using systems that are directly linked to the timing equipment itself. The challenges they face are numerous, since the electronics in the machines are becoming increasingly complex. This cutting-edge technology provides a detailed overview of the competitors’ performance, which is presented to the spectators in specially devised graphics.
The timekeeper job's requirements
The IT specialist therefore has to have the same qualities as the timers, as well as being able to combine his expert technical skills with a sense of the finished product, since he is directly responsible for what is presented to the public. The team deals with all the necessary tasks: unloading the equipment, setting up the material along the piste, installing timing instruments and computers and testing the whole system, before actually timing the competition and processing the data. It goes without saying that the members of the timing team have to be extremely fit. Most of the timing equipment − 60 kg of material − used to be carried by the starter, the timer up in the starting hut at the top of the piste. Today three minibuses are needed to transport the material, which weighs four tonnes in all. For the more important competitions a lorry is used. Normally the timing team arrive at the ski resort three days before the competition is due to start. For some events, such as Kitzbühel or the Lauberhorn, however, more time is needed to get everything set up and ready, and for the world championships it is a 5-day job. It is also interesting to note that it takes only a matter of hours to dismantle all the equipment, however. The timing team is normally made up of six people for the slaloms or giant slaloms and seven for the downhill races. Wengen and Kitzbühel are exceptions, however, and require a larger team. The professional timers are away from home for about six months of the year. The team wears ­Longines uniforms and has crampons and skis. The starter has a walkie-talkie and a headset. He can use the latter to tell the rest of the team what is happening at the top of the mountain during the race.
The final touch
The day before the competition, once all the material has been set up (devices placed along the piste, video boards and timing equipment in place, IT system for the data handling up and running) the team has to check all the cables as they might have deteriorated since they were last used. Today with permanent underground cables, the timing equipment can be set up quite quickly, but in the olden days cables of up to 2000 m had to be laid by the timing team before each competition. This means that they may have to work late into the night if any problems arise, obliging them to inspect the whole length of the piste using only a head lamp to discover where the trouble-spot is.
A proven system
The timing equipment has to meet the most stringent requirements and, after testing at the factory, has to be approved by a laboratory on the basis of criteria set out by the FIS (in particular precision to 1/1000th of a second in order to guarantee the 1/100th of a second precision used in the competitions). Their checklists in hand, the team carry out one final check at least two hours before the competition is due to start. These tests cover every aspect of the system: connections to material along the piste, to the television system and the internet, to the sports commentators, etc. The machines themselves are rarely defective, but the cabling can sometimes be damaged by animals during the night. In order to be ready for all contingencies, the main timing equipment is backed up by an emergency system, which in turn can by replaced by manual timing. As has always been the case, a note of the precise starting time of the competition is given to the runner at the top of the piste who then skis down to give it to the timers at the bottom. The members of the team then go to their posts. The starter is at the top while others spread out all along the piste. The remaining timers, including in particular the IT specialists, stay in the control booth at the bottom of the piste. In order to enable everyone to concentrate fully on the job in hand, there is total silence in the control booth: the only person who is authorised to speak is the man in charge of the main system as he is constantly in contact with the race judges through a dedicated channel. The level of concentration is such that, most of the time, when the team leaves the booth they can only repeat the winner’s name and number. In the olden days, the booth at the bottom of the piste was a simple shed placed on the snow – certain timers still have the scars on their toes to remind them! Then marquees were used and heated with a fire. As might be expected, one day the whole thing went up in flames and all the material was destroyed. The organisers finally understood that properly constructed booths were needed. Once the race is over, the team has to dismantle all their equipment, collect it all together and load it for transport. Very often they have to return immediately or else go to another location to time another competition. Travel, fascinating work and life in a team. Those are the key-words for a group of men who wouldn’t change their job for anything in the world !
The timing team is normally made up of six people for the slaloms or giant slaloms and seven for the downhill races. Wengen and Kitzbühel are exceptions, however, and require a larger team. The professional timers are away from home for about six months of the year.
Skiing timing by longines
Since launching its first chronograph 1878, ­Longines developed considerably. The first timing technology created at the start of the 20th century soon became outdated. The “broken wire” system, frequently used earlier for measuring competitors’ times in skiing races, was replaced by technology that was cutting-edge and revolutionary for the time.
Longines and the white circus
As an innovator and a pioneer, the St. Imier watch manufacturing company ­Longines is present on the snowy slopes since 1924 and developed a photoelectric timing system in 1937. This was gradually improved thanks to the experience gained by ­Longines’ timers on the ground. In 1945, when ­Longines was chosen to time the championships organised by the Swiss Armed Forces in Crans-Montana, the company could boast the first light-barriers that would enable them to time the skiers to a thousandth of a second.
The ongoing development of new devices
The brand would not rest on its laurels for the race for precision never stops. At the first World Championships in Alpine skiing that ­Longines was asked to time, namely in Aspen (USA) in 1950, it installed a new generation of electromagnetic gates which recorded the starting and finishing time of each competitor. Fifteen years later, at the sixth World Championships, ­Longines was present yet again on the pistes of Portillo in Chile. From 1924 on ­Longines showed that its professionalism with regard to sports timing needed no validation. Right from the start of this competition, the organisers of many World Cup events placed their faith in the St. Imier watch manufacturer for timing the competitors. We can quote the famous Kitzbühel race, the American competitions in Squaw Valley or the Italian races in Val Gardena. ­Longines very quickly became the name as far as timing Alpine skiing competitions was concerned.
Present all around the world
The company was keen to ensure that the competitors and the spectators all around the world were given the most accurate times and thus regularly replaced the material used, updating it in line with technological progress. In 1975, for example, after having been able to provide television viewers with a competitor’s time via an additional camera a few years earlier, ­Longines and the firm’s technicians succeeded in showing the results on the TV screen immediately, above the logo “­Longines Timing”. This new idea enabled skiing fans to live the race just as if they were themselves at the bottom of the piste, among the throng of excited spectators. Between the World Championships, in which ­Longines has been involved 17 times, and the World Cup competitions, ­Longines has timed around one thousand races – slaloms or giant slaloms, downhill, super-G and combined.
A partnership with the fis
On the strength of this prestigious heritage and keen to continue this close collaboration that started about 80 years ago, in 2006/2007 ­Longines again took on responsibility for timing the different stages in the World Cup, and from 2013 on the company is seen again on the Tyrolian pistes at Kitzbühel where it was responsible for timing races for 50 consecutive years from 1948 on. In 2015, ­Longines was the Official Timekeeper for the Alpine Skiing World Championships, which were held in Vail/Beaver Creek (USA) in February. To carry out this task, the Swiss watchmaker was setting up a complex infrastructure for timing, displaying the results and transmitting data all around the world. In 2017, the winged hourglass brand was the Official Timekeeper of the FIS World Alpine Ski ­Championships which were hosted at the spectacular resort of St. Moritz. ­On this occasion, Longines launched its new timekeeping and data handling technology for alpine skiing, the Longines Live Alpine Data. No doubt the winged hourglass brand will continue to be faced with prestigious challenges on ski pistes in the years to come.
Follow alpine skiing results on longinestiming.com
­Longines’ long-standing involvement in sports timekeeping started in 1878 with the first chronograph manufactured by the brand. Building on its in-house expertise, ­Longines gradually created a special relationship with the world of sport. It can now count many years of experience as a timekeeper for world championships in sport or as a partner of international sports federations. ­Longinestiming.com enables one to follow the results of all competitions timed by the Swiss watch brand around the world in the fields of alpine skiing, show jumping and gymnastics. This platform which combines precision and performance offers a unique sporting experience.
Longines live alpine data
On the occasion of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, the Swiss watch brand Longines launched its new timekeeping and data handling technology for alpine skiing, Longines Live Alpine Data, which was used for the downhill and super-G races.
On February 6, 2017, at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Longines presented the game-changing Longines Live Alpine Data system, consisting of a chip attached to the skier’s boot equipped with a radar and motion sensor. This system was outlined during a press conference attended by Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines Vice President and Head of International Marketing, Alain Zobrist, CEO of Longines Timing, Emmanuel Couder, Technical & Marketing Coordinator Alpine for the FIS, Stéphane Cattin, Alpine Skiing Director for Swiss-Ski, as well as Mikaela Shiffrin, Longines Ambassador of Elegance. The Longines Live Alpine Data technology enables the real-time and continuous measurement of the athlete’s speed, acceleration and deceleration, the time it takes to reach 100 km/h and an analysis of jumps. This data was presented in the form of TV graphics to viewers at home and to the spectators attending the competitions. In a second phase, it will be put at the athletes’ disposal to help them analyse their performances with ever-increasing precision. The series of tests run in Val d’Isère in December 2016 and in Wengen last January proved conclusive and enabled the Longines Timing team to launch the Longines Live Alpine Data system at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships St. Moritz 2017, the most important international event of the 2016/2017 alpine skiing season.
Juan-Carlos Capelli declared: “It is a great pride for Longines to officially launch the Longines Live Alpine Data technology here, in St. Moritz, on the eve of the first World Championships races. Our long-lasting experience as timekeeper of international sports events has led us to take up numerous challenges in the field of timekeeping and push our expertise to the highest levels of precision. In addition, this new system will contribute to develop the public interest in a sport dear to us, and in which we have been involved since 1924 already.” Alain Zobrist said: “Longines is a pioneer in sports timekeeping, and innovation has always been the driving force behind its know-how, just like for its timepieces. The Longines Live Alpine Data system is the result of a close collaboration between not only Longines and the FIS, but also the athletes, the trainers, and the TV broadcaster representatives, who were actively involved in its development. The World Championships are the perfect occasion to inaugurate this new system, which will improve the understanding of alpine skiing in general.”
The Longines Live Alpine Data system consists of a chip attached to the skier’s boot equipped with a radar and motion sensor.
Timekeeping material.
The Longines Live Alpine Data technology was presented during a press conference attended by Alain Zobrist, Juan-Carlos Capelli, Mikaela Shiffrin and Emmanuel Couder.
Involved since the very beginning in the development of the Longines Live Alpine Data system, Emmanuel Couder declared: “Longines is known for having supported explorers and adventurers throughout its history, thanks to the precision of its timepieces, and the FIS is happy to have partnered with the brand to introduce new dynamic measurements in alpine skiing. Together, we will explore a new range of data enabling a better understanding of the skiers’ performance.” Longines Ambassador of Elegance Mikaela Shiffrin shared her point of view on the new system as a skier: “The new Longines Live Alpine Data technology is really cool, as it gives a different perspective on the sport for the public watching, allowing them to see all the intricacies and details that make one single turn or jump fast or slow. It is also a new way to show athletes the faster line. As athletes, we are always analyzing video and comparing lines to decide which one is fast, especially in speed, but side by side videos do not always show exactly what you need to see. The Longines Live Alpine Data system goes further and gives more precise way to get that information.”
Conquest V.H.P.
Quartz movement / L288.2
(ETA E56.111)
Functions :

– hours
– minutes
– seconds
– date aperture at 3 o’clock
– perpetual calendar
Cases :

round, stainless steel, 41 mm or 43 mm ; sapphire crystal with multi-layered anti-reflective coating
Dials :

Black, silvered, blue or carbon, with 2 applied arabic numerals and 9 applied bar indexes with Super- LumiNova®; V.H.P. inscription in red
Black “new noir” hands; stainless steel bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism; water- resistant up to 5 bar (50 meters)
Based on its many years of experience with quartz, Longines is revisiting a success story from the 80s. With the Conquest V.H.P. (Very High Precision), it is marking a return to a technology in which it was a pioneer and expert, particularly through its timekeeping activities. The new collection was launched at the Neuchâtel Observatory, where the first quartz clock with absolute precision developed by the brand was certified in 1954. The Conquest V.H.P. represents a new achievement in the field of quartz, combining great precision, high technicality and a sporty look, marked by the brand’s unique elegance. Longines’ history with quartz has been one full of technical innovation and feats. In 1954, the brand developed a first quartz clock, which would quickly set a long series of precision records at the Neuchâtel Observatory. It was housed in the mythical Chronocinégines, an instrument that became a pioneer in the history of timekeeping, as it provided judges with a film strip composed of a series of prints at 1/100th of a second, allowing them to follow the movement of the athletes at the moment they crossed the finish line. In 1969, technological mastery led Longines to reveal the Ultra-Quartz, the first quartz wristwatch conceived to be mass-produced. A huge stride was made in 1984 with the quartz calibre fitted in the Conquest V.H.P., setting a precision record for that time. As an extension of these historic milestones, the winged hourglass brand is now presenting its new Conquest V.H.P., equipped with a movement developed by the ETA manufacturing company exclusively for Longines. This movement is renowned for its high degree of precision for an analog watch (± 5 s/year) and its ability to reset its hands after an impact or exposure to a magnetic field, using the GPD (gear position detection) system. These attractive features are likely responsible for its exceptional movement status, to which a very long battery life and a perpetual calendar must be added. In the true essence of Conquest, the ultimate sports line, this exceptional timepiece brings together high technicality and dynamic aesthetic. The Conquest V.H.P. has thus positioned itself as the standard-bearer of extreme precision. These steel watches are available in the 3 hands/calendar (41 and 43 mm diameter cases) and chronograph (42 and 44 mm diameter cases) versions. The chronograph displays hours, minutes and seconds, a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock and a 60-second counter in the centre. On each model, changes are made using the intelligent crown, while the E.O.L. indicator can preventatively signal the end of battery life. The Conquest V.H.P. collection models display blue, carbon, silvered or black dials. A steel bracelet with a folding safety clasp completes this exceptional piece.
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