Modèle Dressage Hermès
Polo S en acier Piaget
Classic Fusion Chukker, nuance terre Hublot
Reverso Classic Largen Jaeger-LeCoultre
RM 053 Pablo Mac Donough Richard Mille
Chronographe Conquest Jumping Longines
Of man and
Our constant companion, the horse has been an inspiration to the world of watchmaking.
English high society was crazy about equestrian events and established their key conventions in the 18th century. Breeders devoted themselves to performance, spectators took up betting and a London watchmaker patented a model that could be fixed to the saddle to measure the mount’s number of steps. France was also besotted with equestrian sports, inspiring Louis XVIII’s watchmaker to create the first chronograph, in 1821. While the racecourse at Chantilly was being built opposite the stables of the Prince de Condé (who hoped to be reincarnated as a horse), Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec designed a “counter measuring distance traveled.” Activated by the starting signal, the ingenious device deposited a drop of ink on an enamel disk each time the horse crossed the finishing line. Montblanc paid handsome tribute to him in 2014 with a chronograph displaying date, second time zone and day-night indicator.
From show jumping to dressage and flat racing, horse riding developed at a galloptoday it is the sport with the third most participants in Francewhile manufacturers ambled forward. Beginning with Longines, who embarked on its long history as manufacturer of equestrian chronometers in 1912 in Lisbon. Partner to the most prestigious meetingsPrix de Diane, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Royal Ascot, Kentucky Derbythe house excels at making equestrian watches. Developed with the FEI (Fédération Équestre Internationale), its latest chronometer, the Conquest, combines a function for counting penalties when jumping fences with precision timing down to one-hundredth of a second, enough time for a thoroughbred running at 50 kph over one kilometer to win by a neck. Used for the first time last year at the Randwick racecourse in Australia, Longines Positioning System (LPS) technology pushes the boundaries even more in terms of precision, down to 0.00272 second, and real-time data, 1,000 measurements per second feeding the data-hungry apps.
Drawing on its equestrian heritage, Hermès launched its Arceau collection in 1978. Twenty-five years later, its Dressage watch drew on the curvature of the stirrup bar for the design of its attachments. In 2010, the saddler went one step further when it inaugurated its own equestrian competition, the Saut Hermès, under the glazed roof of the Grand Palais in Paris. The oldest team sport in the world, polo also whispers in the ear of manufacturers. It inspired Jaeger-LeCoultre to take up a bold challenge: designing a watch that could withstand a polo match. They achieved this in 1931 with the Reverso, which is “able to pivot on itself by sliding in its case,” the latter being rectangular in shape and emblematic of the Art Deco style. The watch became an icon and is today worn by players with the highest handicap, Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Luke Tomlinson. Embracing Winston Churchill’s quote, “A polo handicap is a passport to the world,” Piaget joined the realm of the mallet in 1979 with the Polo, a gold watch 45 mm in diameter, available for the first time in steel this year.
A time for excellence
Forged in the last century, links between manufacturers and equestrian sports intensified with the new millennium. Rolex supports the popular World Equestrian Festival at Aachen and Cartier sponsors the exclusive Polo World Cup on snow at Saint-Moritz, while Richard Mille has joined forces with the Chantilly Polo Club. Products of this pas de deux, watches in turn are competing with each other. The titanium-plated RM 053 Tourbillon, which tilts to 30°, was created for the Argentine champion Pablo Mac Donough. As for the Classic Fusion Chukker chronograph, launched by Hublot last August during the Polo Gold Cup in Gstaad, it has a counter measuring each period of play lasting 7.5 minutes, the chukker. A model that is perfectly in season with the Argentine Open, which is held in Palermo until December 5.