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Longines’ Master Collection at the Kentucky Derby

More than one Rich Strike in Churchill Downs’ Winner’s Circle

Every year, on the first weekend in May, the world sets its eyes on Louisville, Kentucky for what is often referred to as one of the most exciting (and sometimes controversial) sporting events of the year, the Kentucky Derby. This year was no exception.

The first of what is known as the “Triple Crown,” the Kentucky Derby is chock full of history, pageantry, and ceremony, all of which come together in the form of a screaming, well-dressed, hat-donning crowd in a matter of a two-minute time frame. And how do we know about that time? Well, because Longines – the 190-year-old Swiss watch brand – is the timekeeping sponsor of the Kentucky Derby as well as being the title sponsor of the Kentucky Oaks, the race of the fillies held the day before the Derby.

Image featuring (from left to right) Kristina Welling (Longines Events Manager), Barbara Palumbo, Matthias Breschan (Longines CEO), Michael Vuilleumier of Longines on May 6, 2022, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. Imagery courtesy of Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Longines

A Little About Oaks Day
“Wear pink.” Those were the instructions I was given for Oaks Day, held on Friday, May 6th. Oaks Day puts focus on those who have passed as a result of breast cancer and highlights survivors with a walk along the track at Churchill Downs. As I strolled the “pink carpet” and posed in front of the Longines’ “step-and-repeat” for photos, I reminisced about my own grandmother who had succumbed to the disease and wondered if she was looking down upon me, in my blush pink fascinator with skirt and shoes to match, and if she was smiling.

The most important detail to know about Oaks Day is that the Kentucky Oaks race consists only of 3-year-old fillies (female horses). The race is a $1.25 Million Grade 1 stakes race and awards the winning filly a garland of lilies, while its jockey and trainer are each awarded Longines watches.

The Derby and The Master Collection
Derby Day is… well… it’s a sight, that’s for certain. Celebrities mingle with Kentucky natives and other attendees travel in from all over the globe. Roughly 160,000 people attended the 148th annual “Run for the Roses” and they were treated to a spectacle of all spectacles. The vast majority of those in attendance never expected that Rich Strike – a last minute edition to the lineup with 80-1 odds – would win in an exceptional display of speed and strength. And to his jockey (Sonny Leon), his trainer (Eric Reed), went a watch from the Longines Master Collection; the official watch of the 148th Longines Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

Powered by a self-winding mechanical movement and equipped with a chronograph complication, the Master Collection watches also feature a moon phase indicator, 24-hour indicator, and a 30-minute counter with a date display. Crafted in high-polished stainless steel, the model presented to the winners for the events were 42mm in diameter and included a sapphire crystal transparent case back. The watch’s power reserve lasts approximately 66 hours.

The name Longines has long been synonymous with horse racing and has gone hand-in-hand with the Kentucky Derby and its sister race, the Kentucky Oaks, for years now. All of the clocks at the iconic Churchill Downs are labeled with one of the race’s most prominent sponsors, and its clear the brand enjoys the connection to this particular part of the sporting world.

There were both victors and the vanquished at the 148th Kentucky Derby, but Longines came out a winner with their Master Collection watch, no matter which side of the betting aisle one was on.

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