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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’s first job is to load all the equipment at their base. They then deal with all the necessary tasks: transport to the event, unloading, 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. And it’s even necessary for the starter, the timer up in the starting hut at the top of the piste, to be a good skier (the slopes need to be quite icy for the competitions) so that, if there is a technical problem, he can rush down to sort it out. It used to be the starter who carried most of the timing equipment – 60 kg of material – to the top of the mountain in his backpack! 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 10 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 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 10 months of the year.
Timekeeping of the slalom competitions in Mürren (Switzerland) in 1961.
Results display of the slalom competition in Kitzbühel in 1969.
the final touch
The day before the competition, once all the material has been set up (devices placed along the piste, results boards and cabins in place, IT system 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 !
Work in progress for the Longines timekeeping teams.
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 1933 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 1933 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 20 times, and the World Cup competitions, ­Longines has timed over six hundred 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. This year, the winged hourglass brand is the Official Timekeeper of the FIS World Alpine Ski ­Championships hosted at the spectacular resort of St. Moritz. ­Longines 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.
A chronograph precise to one hundredth of a second and dedicated to alpine skiing
The Conquest
Conquest 1/100th Alpine Skiing
Conquest 1/100th Alpine Skiing
Quartz chronograph
movement L440
Functions :

– Hours
– Minutes
– Small seconds at 6 o’clock
– Date aperture at 4 o’clock
Dial :
black with 1 applied Arabic numeral and 11 applied indices with Super-LumiNova©
Chronograph :
Central second hand and 1/100th of second hand; 30-minute counter at 2 o’clock; 12-hour counter at 10 o’clock
Rhodium-plated hands; red 1/100th of seconds’ hand; stainless steel bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism; water-resistant to 30 bar
Case :
round, 41 mm, stainless steel; screw-in case back and crown with protective shoulder; sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating
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a tribute from longines to its links with alpine skiing
­Longines, a timekeeper for sporting performances since 1878, is launching a new line of chronographs specially developed for sports that require an extremely high level of precision. The Conquest 1/100th series responds to the needs of athletes, professionals and sports fans, besides many others, since it measures time at multiple intermediaries and has an intuitive analogue display that shows the time to one hundredth of a second using a separate hand. All of this is possible thanks to the latest generation of quartz movement developed exclusively for ­Longines. Since its debut in the alpine ski trials of 1933 at Chamonix, ­Longines has been faced with a number of challenges and has always succeeded in overcoming them to be able to comply with the highest standards of timekeeping for skiers’ performances. Each new innovation has allowed alpine skiers to enjoy a level of precision never witnessed before. However, this level of precision was always quickly surpassed given the brand’s infinite quest for perfection. At the opening of the 2014 / 2015 alpine ski season in Sölden, ­Longines unveiled a watch that is also part of this fascinating technological evolution: the Conquest 1/100th Alpine Skiing, the black dial watch in the Conquest 1/100th series.
no feat without timekeeping
According to Walter von Känel, President of ­Longines: “­Longines is sharing in 80 years of emotion and adventure with these alpine skiing competitions. You only have to mention Kitzbühel and 1978, where the Austrian skier Josef Walcher and Sepp Ferstl from Germany tied exactly to one hundredth of a second upon crossing the famous Streif. It was a feat measured by ­Longines! We are very proud to have contributed towards developing the technology used in this discipline. It all started with the Chronoson ­Longines in 1948, before moving onto the first quartz chronograph in 1956 and now we are paying tribute to this rich heritage with our Conquest 1/100th Alpine Skiing chronograph!” This chronograph is specially designed for professionals and alpine ski enthusiasts who are looking for a watch capable of measuring intermediary performances from the starting gate right up until the finish line, gate by gate, to the hundredth of a second. For skiers plummeting down a wild course at speed, time is the real challenge, the variable that needs to be controlled if you want to go down in the legends of great champions and leave a mark on the history of this discipline.
a chronograph blending technology and design
The demands required for ­Longines to reach such an extreme level of precision have also led to the development of the new unique quartz movement, the L440. It includes a microcontroller with a flash memory that allows the watch to be reset instantly and allows intermediary times to be recorded. With a diameter of 41 mm, this bright steel model has a black dial that displays the hour, minutes, small seconds at 6 o’clock, the date and chronographic functions: a central seconds hand, a 30 minutes counter 2 o’clock and a 12 hours counter at 10 o’clock. The central seconds hand in red displays time to one hundredth of a second and is the watch’s crowning glory at the centre. The model is fitted with a steel bracelet and a folding clasp.
Official Timekeeper of the International Ski Federation (FIS), the Swiss watch brand is proud to present a new Conquest collection chronograph able to display time to one hundredth of a second: the Conquest 1/100th Alpine Skiing. A real tribute to ­Longines' long tradition of producing trial timekeepers for alpine skiing, this steel chronograph meets the highest standards in precision for the sport and contains a unique movement that surpasses previous generations.