Post time for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, is set for 6:46 on Saturday, May 6. Longines, the Swiss watch brand most associated with timing equestrian sports, continues its tradition as not only the official timekeeper of the race but as the maker of the watch handed out to the winners. The team behind last year’s winning horse, Nyquist, were awarded Longines Master Collection watches (click here for WatchTime’s live report from Derby Weekend 2016). The previous year, the owners, jockey, and trainer of eventual Triple Crown champion American Pharoah galloped away with a Longines Conquest Classic Moonphase (the same watch we reviewed during that year’s Derby experience; click here for the story). So which Longines timepiece will be presented in the winners’ circle this year?
Appropriately enough, this year’s Derby winners will receive the Longines Conquest 1/100th Horse Racing, a new chronograph created with the timekeeping needs of equestrian sportsmen in mind. The timepiece traces its inspiration to an 1878 pocketwatch — now among the historical exhibits at the Longines Museum — that famously featured an engraving of a jockey and his mount on the caseback and was built to time speeds to the nearest second. The modern watch — which can record time measurements to a much more precise 1/100th second — calls out to trainers, jockeys, and prospective owners who are interested in assessing a horse’s fitness and performance. Precise speed measurements are, of course, crucial in horse racing: at a thoroughbred’s typical top speed of 70 kilometers per hour, 1/100th second equals 20 centimeters in length — in other words, a narrow margin of victory at the finish line.
The Longines Conquest 1/100th Horse Racing accomplishes this chronographic precision with its quartz L440 movement, equipped with a microcontroller with flash memory that allows the watch to be reset instantly and to record intermediate times. This proprietary movement is encased in a 41-mm stainless steel case with a screw-down caseback and screw-down crown with a protective shoulder. Its silvery dial displays the hour and minute from the center, small seconds on a subdial at 6 o’clock, the date in a window at 4:30 and the chronograph readouts (30 elapsed minutes and 12 elapsed hours) on subdials at 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock, respectively. The center-mounted red chronograph seconds hand makes one rotation around the dial each second, indicating stopped times to the 1/100th second on a numbered scale on the dial’s flange. The red color is picked up in the two chronograph subdial hands and in the “1/100” indication on the dial at 8 o’clock.
The Longines Conquest 1/100th Horse Racing, which has a nonreflective sapphire crystal over the dial and is water-resistant to 300 meters, comes on a stainless steel bracelet with a triple folding safety clasp and push-button opening mechanism. The price is $1,600.