The first criterion to evaluate and compare mechanical watches was accuracy. As a matter of fact, watchmakers have always been in competition regarding the precision of their timepieces. The COSC is the most famous one certification in watchmaking, but what about the others? How does watchmakers claim to create precise mechanical watches? Who control those watch certifications? Find out more below!
Watchmakers have always being fighting over the precision of their watches. They are still trying to standout from their peers to both establish themselves as reference in horology and to get more customers. Do you remember what Omega just claimed at Baselworld 2015? They have just announced the creation of the most precise movement in all conditions with their new calibre 8900. To be considered as a new standard in watchmaking, they have also created a brand new certification: the METAS, which is a result of a collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology.
Independent companies/institutes are the best endorsement for private watchmakers. This is why you will find several certifications in the watchmaking world, from many different institutes.
In most cases, certifications evaluate the precision and finishing of watch calibers. However, in the current highly competitive landscape, certifications are now evaluating the entire product (from its caliber to the finishing of the whole timepiece). Certifications are in constant evolution to help rising watchmakers’ standard in quality and precision. In addition to certifications, watchmakers also offer their own warranty which proves their authority in the market (such as Rolex who now delivers a 5-year warranty versus 2 before).
The most popular watch certifications:
In this evolving environment, you will find below a sum-up of requirements for each existing certification as of today to better understand how your mechanical watches are evaluated.
The COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) is the most famous one :
Rolex, Breitling and Omega are massively using this one. It controls the accuracy of mechanical calibers and requires for a movement over 20mm diameter to get a precision of -4s/+6s per day. Controls are made only on calibres and not on the final product (the watch). Three official desks are available in Switzerland, and only companies can ask for tests. Watch lovers can use Toolwatch.io to make sure their COSC watch is still under the correct watch precision 😉
Some watchmaker using this certification: Rolex, Omega, Breitling
For more info please visit cosc.swiss
The Poinçon de Genève (Geneva seal):
This certification is strictly reserved for watchmakers on the Geneva soil. It controls both technical aspects and calibres’ decoration. This certifications is certified by Timelab, also an independent organism. Like the COSC, Timelab only certifies calibers submitted by companies. The precision must be +/- 1 minute per week (8.57 sec per day). The Poinçon de Genève is not only evaluating the accuracy of the watch but also perform a functional test to make sure that the timepiece is operating properly. The water resistance is also checked, the watch is tested at -0.5 and +3 bar at the minimum. Finally the power reserve is also tested to be at least what is claimed by the watchmaker.
Some watchmaker using this certification: Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, Chopard, Roger Dubuis
For more info please visit poincondegeneve.ch
Like the Poinçon de Genève, this certification controls the final product. It is also controlling both the aesthetic and the accuracy of the calibre. This certification is only for 100% swiss made watches (in opposition to the Geneva seal) and requires also the COSC certification (-4s/+6s per day), which is more precise than the Geneva seal. However, it is less demanding than the Poinçon de Genève on the aesthetic criteria.
Some watchmaker using this certification: Parmigiani Fleurier, Bovet, Chopard
For more info please visit fleurier-quality.com
The METAS certification:
Omega has recently announced a new partnership with the Federal Office of Metrology. The METAS is a brand new standard in watchmaking, focusing on magnetism resistance with a resistance to at least 15 000 gauss (you can find here our article about magnetism). The average daily precision (evaluated in different positions and temperatures) should between 0 and +5 sec/day before and after exposure to magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss. Power reserve and water resistance are also evaluated to be at least what is claimed by the watchmaker. Every watchmaker will be able to apply for this new certification.
Watchmaker using this certification : Omega
For more info please visit Swatch group and METAS
Other watch certifications:
Famous watchmaker Patek Philippe decided not be to be part of the Geneva seal anymore. It has created its own certification: the Patek Philippe seal which is available only for Patek Philippe watches. This certification requires a high accuracy standard with a tolerance of only -3s / +2s per day for calibers above 20mm of diameter. For tourbillon watches, the Patek Philippe seal is even more demanding in terms of precision as the tolerance is of -1s / +2s per day with an individual bulletin being delivered with each watch.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is also doing its own certification with the 1000-hour control (exclusively done on the final product). This control during almost six weeks is composed of tests reproducing conditions of real life wear. Jaeger-LeCoultre does not communicate on the expected accuracy for its watches.
For more info please visit the Jaeger-LeCoultre website
Following Jaeger-Lecoultre, Montblanc has now a 500-hour control as well. This certification controls the entire production process, from the caliber production to the fixation of the bracelet.
For more info please visit the Montblanc website
You should check regularly your mechanical watch’s accuracy to help you follow the running of your timepiece. It will help you know if it’s time for a service or not 😉 You can check your watch using Toolwatch and do not hesitate to share your results with us!
One last thing!
Do you know which mechanical wristwatch has been certified the most accurate worldwide?
–> It is the Greubel Forsay Double tourbillon technique (cal. GF02s). This watch scored 915/1000 at the 2011 International Chronometry Competition (here is the video)
See you soon for a next article to help you taking care of your favorite timepiece !
— Toolwatch.io (@ToolwatchApp) August 24, 2015