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The key to unlocking the racing look
The fashion world is filled with a plethora of looks, from exotic to casual, preppy to sexy, bohemian to girly, the choices and varieties are endless. Yet, when it comes to the world of racing, there really is only one look and that is elegant. Historically, the sport first practiced by Kings and Queens has always dictated that spectators should turn up in their finery and while many traditions have changed over the course of the last three hundred years, dressing up for the races has not.
Horse racing remains in fact one of the few events in the sporting calendar that comes with a dress code, albeit one that still leaves plenty of room for creativity and originality. As British designer Stewart Parvin, who has been dressing Her Majesty the Queen, the racing world’s most avid supporter, for fifteen years, confirms : “ I think there is definitely a racing look, which tends to be glamorous and elegant, but also one that has a lot to do with wearing the right clothes on the right day. A serious racegoer is always aware of the weather and hence will have a wardrobe of clothes that will allow for a quick change of plan should the weather suddenly go from hot to cold or from beautiful to windy. I think someone who wears the right clothes will always look perfect. ” Awarded a Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen in 2007, Stewart, who coincidentally grew up in Ascot, not far from the racecourse, knows exactly what the modern racegoer needs. Using only the finest cloth from Italy, some tweeds from England and the occasional lace from France, his outfits inevitably have a look that is understated, chic and modern. He smiles when he explains : “ Already in school I always said I wanted to make women look beautiful and that is what I am still trying to do today. So you won’t see me making tracksuit bottoms. And I don’t go for the look that shouts out, the look that when you walk into a room, people go, oh my dear what is that ? For me it is about quality, not showiness. I would say that one of the main elements in my collections is structure and for that the right choice of cloth is very important. Most people who go racing will have sat in a car, sometimes for hours, so they should not wear something that creases easily. You don’t want them to look like an unmade bed do you ? ” It goes without saying that women dressed by Stewart, who trained under the acclaimed couturier Donald Campbell, always look impeccable. Yet not everyone dresses as effortlessly as The Queen. “ Yes, she is fabulous, ” confirms Stewart. “ So many things suit her. She can wear almost anything and what is fantastic is that she is very open minded to new design ideas. ” He pauses and then concludes : “ Every woman can look beautiful. You just have to accentuate her best features and if she has a bad feature then hide it. It is simple really. ”

The challenges of dressing a racegoer or achieving the right look for the occasion are endless and Suzannah Crabb, whose fashion label Suzannah is also worn by members of the royal family, agrees when she recounts : “ I once was asked to make a dress for someone who was going to take a helicopter four times in one day. So I tested the dress out by making a replica dress for myself made in the same cloth and style and wore it all day whilst I went about my work. She pauses and then adds with a mischievous smile : “ I didn’t take it on a helicopter though. Shame really, I wouldn’t have minded to zip around the skies above London. But anyway, this shows how serious we take it. It is really important to us that our clients look great. ”

Already as a small girl, Suzannah always knew she wanted to work in fashion and she explains : “ I got into fashion at an early age. I grew up in Hull in East Yorkshire into a family that was running a coal business. My mum worked from home but she was always extremely immaculate at all times, even though she would never see anyone, except us, during the day. We tended to make things at home, like dress making. She had a big button box that I played with and I also did a lot of sketching and drawing. She had a profound influence on me and today, if you’d ask me what look I would like to achieve, I would say immaculate. ”

Following several years in the fashion industry as a stylist and a trend forecaster, in 2006, disillusioned with the direction of mass production that more and more major fashion houses seemed to embrace, she decided that it was finally time to pursue her real passion : designing clothes that she considers future heirlooms. “ I had this yearning to work with cloth that I loved and creating pieces for people that are really special, ” her eyes light up as she continues : “ I like quality and in fact most of our clothes are made here in London. I wanted to create something for people to treasure, something they love wearing, an outfit which would make people feel the best version of them. And I have always loved occasions. I go to lots of events and obviously many of them are racing events. I like the racing look for let’s say Ascot, which is very polished, very feminine. It is also chic and smart, but also fun, not too serious. I also think an outfit should have an element of theatre, maybe through colour or so to it. ” Suzannah clearly enjoys designing clothes that are the perfect attire for the racecourse, yet that can also be worn in a more casual environment. She concludes : “ The perfect racing look ? I think it would have to be effortless. Not trying too hard. You want to project the right image. You want to look really good and stylish, you want to look like you belong on a racecourse, that you are part of it. ” [Liz Price]
Record Collection
On the occasion of its 185th anniversary celebrated in 2017, Longines presents its new Record collection. In the Saint-Imier company’s purest watchmaking tradition, these automatic models combine classic elegance and excellence, aspiring to become the spearheads of the brand. And there is no shortage of arguments for these exceptional timepieces, whose movement includes a single- crystal silicon balance spring with unique properties. A first for Longines, it is certified as a “chronometer” by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), a designation awarded to all of the pieces in the Record collection.
Record Collection
It seems the destiny of some timepieces has already been mapped out. Through its new Record collection, Longines conveys its essence; one of timeless elegance and excellence. Qualities that are sure to raise these models to the rank of future success of the brand, as a link between tradition and innovation. A decidedly classic collection, which is expressive and emblematic of Longines’ watchmaking expertise.

Behind this ambitious profile, is an exceptional heart. This heart is the balance spring, the watch’s regulating organ. Coupled to the balance, it oscillates around its equilibrium position, ensuring its fundamental purpose: to beat with extreme regularity. Yet, between magnetism, temperature variations and wear and tear (many hundreds of millions of “breaths” per year), everything seems to be working against its smooth operation. For increased accuracy and longevity, Longines decided to add single-crystal silicon balance spirals to its best movements – a resistant and light material that is inoxidizable and unaffected by standard temperature variations, magnetic fields and atmospheric pressure. A high-tech heart housed in a timepiece created in the purest watchmaking tradition !

Such excellence deserves recognition. Based on their high accuracy, all of the Record collection’s models have received the COSC’s “ chronometer ” certificate. Equipped with automatic calibres, all of the pieces were tested one by one by this neutral independent organization, and can thus display the CHRONOMETER label stamped on their dial. Bestowed with significant added value, these certified “ chronometers ” achieve the status of authentic, exceptional timepieces.

With four sizes (26, 30, 38.5 and 40 mm), the Record collection is designed for both women (7 dials) and men (6 dials). All of the models feature the 3 working hands/date version, with a steel case – and a diamond-set steel case on two dials, for women – fitted on a steel bracelet or alligator watch strap.
This steel 38.50-mm diameter model from the Record collection displays a white matt dial with 12 painted roman numerals. Its L888.4 automatic movement includes a single-crystal silicon balance spring with unique properties and is certified as a “ chronometer ” by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). A stainless steel bracelet completes this exceptional piece.
This model from the Record collection displays a white mother-of-pearl dial with 12 diamonds indexes. Its steel 26-mm diameter case is set with diamonds. Its L592.4 automatic movement includes a single-crystal silicon balance spring with unique properties and is certified as a “ chronometer ” by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). A stainless steel bracelet completes this exceptional piece.
A culinary feast that sets the pulses racing !
Caviar, lobster, fillet of beef, truffles, risotto, asparagus, duck, as well as champagne, whiskey, gin and Pimm’s, not to mention strawberries and cream or chocolate profiteroles. Think you are looking at the menu of a top-class restaurant ? Well, you could be if you happen to be racing at Sha Tin during the Longines Hong Kong International Races or if you are planning a picnic at the Prix de Diane Longines in Paris. Royal Ascot in England and the Breeders’ Cup in the United States are also places where you can enjoy the most delicious culinary delights, whilst simultaneously watching the world’s best thoroughbreds thunder past you.
Enjoying afternoon tea or a picnic at the races is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, but Michelin starred chefs preparing the most distinctive dishes and world class caterers creating truffle oil infused popcorn for an afternoon snack is a sign that the horse racing industry has raised the stakes in its aim to provide racegoers with much more than just a sporting occasion. “ Racing has always been about socialising, ” says Jonathan Parker, who became Ascot’s first food and beverage manager last year. “ There is real time in between races where people can relax, where they don’t need to concentrate, like they might have to in other sports and we would like to make that time as enjoyable as possible. ”

Unlike many other popular spectator sports, including tennis, football or rugby, a race only lasts a couple of minutes. Even with some time spent around the paddock to look at the horses before the race or coming back down from the stands afterwards to greet the winner upon his return, there are still many hours left to mix and mingle. And surely that is best done around a beautifully set table where courteous waiters will look after your every whim or on a comfortable blanket in the green grass with a delicious picnic that comes in specially designed hat boxes to suit the occasion. Racing has always been about socialising, but it is also about elegance, perfection and the absolute highest standard.

“ This year, we increased the actual seated dining area, as people don’t want to be queueing at a Hot dog stand, ” continues Jonathan Parker. “ They prefer to sit down and enjoy their lobster and a glass of champagne. Even though, and this might surprise you, in the Queen Anne enclosure the most popular food is still Fish and Chips, which is lovely. We like it, as it is such a traditional British thing.
People come to Ascot to have the best of the best. Hence, we have Raymond Blanc, Angela Hartnett and Phil Howard, all Michelin-starred chefs who have their own restaurants during Royal Ascot. To us it is a way of raising the standards because what we are really looking to do is to enhance everyone’s day. ” In France, for the Prix de Diane Longines, a lot of thought has gone into the beautifully presented picnic, created by famous caterers Fauchon. The picnic does not come in the traditional hamper, but in a hat box, easy to carry and a real hit with the fashionistas who travel from all over the world for this elegant event. “ Our chefs are guided by the elegance at the racecourse, ” confirms Nathalie Gouband from Fauchon.

“ The picnic has to match the outfits, the hats. Also, we are very conscious that racegoers are sitting down on a blanket whilst enjoying their food and we cannot risk them ruining their lovely outfits, so this year for example, we included a cold cucumber and Granny Smith apple soup that came in small flask with a straw. It was very elegant and very practical at the same time, which is something our customers appreciate. We also like to pay homage to the many women who go racing on Prix de Diane Longines day, so we created a “ pink ” mini burger with our own pink bread and herb marinated chicken and sweet mustard, which gives the burger a more feminine touch. ”

While the French cuisine is lauded across the globe and London has become the gastronomy capital in world, it is Hong Kong, with its cosmopolitan background that has developed into the centre for gourmet connoisseurs. In the Chinese culture, eating and drinking is fundamental in the art of socialising and dinners are renowned to last many hours, as dishes after dishes of the most tasteful Chinese delicacies, including traditional dim sum, roasted duck and barbecue pork are being served. Hence, racecourses in Hong Kong have a near unlimited variety of food on offer, from Chinese regional cuisine to Western international cuisine, and Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, confirms: “ Customers are incredibly discerning and for us in Hong Kong, there are so many high-quality dining options that the closest attention to detail in our offerings is a must. We average nearly 50,000 racecourse visitors each week of the season and must cater to many different tastes. Our premier venues for owners and members, as well as our corporate boxes and premier customer segments, demand fine dining, with both Chinese and western cuisine options, while racing fans in the Beer Garden at Happy Valley have a variety of casual options. ”

Interestingly, and a further indication of how important gastronomy is in the Chinese culture, the Hong Kong Jockey Club operates its own food and beverage and catering service. More than 200 full-time cooks in both the western and Chinese kitchens work diligently to fulfil the racecourse spectator’s expectation.

On the day of the Longines Hong Kong International Races, the total catering staff exceeds 2,100, which might surprise, but as Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges says : “ It is a substantial effort but one that is absolutely necessary, as we aim for the highest quality for our customers. ” Today, first class horse racing goes hand in hand with the Gourmet lifestyle and racecourses all over the world are upping the ante to provide their customers with an unforgettable experience. So next time when you are looking at oysters, Riesling jelly, Wagyu steak, quail eggs or yellowfin tuna on a menu, you might indeed be in a top-class restaurant. And not just any restaurant, but one with a view of the world’s best thoroughbreds. [Liz Price]v
Conquest V.H.P.
a new achievement with quartz
Conquest V.H.P.
Quartz movement / L288.2 (ETA E56.111)
Functions :

– hours
– minutes
– seconds
– date aperture at 3 o’clock
– perpetual calendar
Dials :
Black, silvered, blue or carbon, with 2 applied arabic numerals and 10 applied bar indexes with Super- LumiNova®; V.H.P. inscription in red
round, stainless steel, 41 mm or 43 mm ; sapphire crystal with multi-layered anti-reflective coating
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 10 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.