Longines, the French Open, and the Future of Tennis

The French Open officially wrapped up this past weekend with 11-time champion Rafael Nadal and first-time winner Simona Halep closing out their respective matches on the iconic red clay of Roland Garros. Like it has for the past decade, Longines sat in a prestigious position as a premier sponsor and official timekeeper for the international tournament.

This year’s Longines Future Tennis Aces youth tournament took place underneath the Eiffel Tower.

One detail about Longines’s involvement with the French Open that many tennis fans and watch enthusiasts are unaware of is that while the world watches the professional matches over at Roland Garros, Longines hosts a second clay tennis competition concurrently in Paris. The Longines Future Tennis Aces pits 40 boys and girls under the age of 13 from 20 different countries against one another in a three-day competition. It has existed since 2010 and provides a wonderful opportunity for these teenagers and pre-teens to compete in a world-class, athletic atmosphere. This year, the two winners were Kilian Feldbausch from Switzerland and Victoria Jimenez from Spain who dominated the opening, round-robin-style matches before moving on to win the eight-seed tournament. Former professional tennis players Alex Corretja and Arantxa Sanchez served as patrons for the youth tournament, spending time with the players and offering advice as they moved through their matches.

Juan Carlos Capelli, Andre Agassi, Arantxa Sanchez, Stefanie Graf, and Alex Corretja with this year’s LFTA champions Victoria Jimenez and Kilian Feldbausch.

The tournament mainly took place underneath the spectacular setting of the Eiffel Tower, providing a lasting memory for not only the players, who were mostly ranked in the top ten for their age range within their home country, but also for their families and the attending press. Before the tournament began, each participating player received a chronograph version of the Longines Conquest V.H.P., hopefully inspiring a love for watches that will continue long into their tennis career. The Longines Conquest V.H.P., which we’ve written about extensively (you can read our highly-detailed review here), also served as the official timepiece for Roland Garros and boasts an accuracy of plus or minus five seconds per year, which is one of the most accurate Swiss watches with an internal regulator ever produced.

Longines CEO Walter von Känel with Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, and Juan-Carlos Capelli at the gala dinner on June 2, 2018, at the Musée Rodin in Paris.

After the tournament wrapped and Feldbausch and Jimenez were crowned as champions, brand ambassadors and former tennis champions Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf hosted a gala dinner at the Musée Rodin for friends of the brand, past and current Longines Future Tennis Aces champions, current ATP and WTP players, social media influencers from around the world, and members of the press. Agassi and Graf, who have been ambassadors for Longines for a decade, joined Longines brand executives in introducing two, new, time-and-date only V.H.P. models, both limited to ten total pieces. Dubbed the “Conquest V.H.P. Stefanie Graf & Andre Agassi Foundations” watches, each timepiece will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Graf’s “Children for Tomorrow” charity and “The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.” 

The new Longines Conquest V.H.P. Stefanie Graf & Andre Agassi Foundations watches.

Longines started the bidding off by purchasing each watch for a total of $100,000 to display in the brand’s museum in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. The other nine sets are currently part of an online auction that runs until July 2, 2018 (you can place a bid here). Each watch will be hand delivered by either Graf or Agassi during a visit to their foundations in Hamburg and Las Vegas, respectively.

In a brief conversation with Longines International Vice President of Marketing, Juan-Carlos Capelli (you can read our interview from last year with him on the Longines Conquest V.H.P. here), he remarked on how special the relationship between Longines and the French Open is and how the major sporting event’s identity ties seamlessly into the brand’s mantra of “Elegance is an Attitude.”

After the LFTA tournament finished, champions Kilian Feldbausch and Victoria Jimenez had the opportunity to play an exhibition match against Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.

“We are not in the tennis world. We are in the French Open world. Longines is a francophile company. One of the most important sporting events in Europe is the French Open and its identity of elegance and glamour is a perfect fit for us.”

The Longines Conquest V.H.P. watching eventual champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

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Author: Logan R. Baker

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