Omega has just announced this morning that they will certify their Master Co-Axial chronometers with a new partner, being METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. As of mid-2015 Omega will test all the Master Co-Axial movements. These tests will be performed in-house (!!) and on encased movements. That also means that good ol’ COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) won’t be testing these movements, which represent 10-15% of Omega’s annual production.
This is quite something. When you look at all aspects of this change of policy, we’re talking about more than just a change of certification partner. It means that THE name in chronometer certification, COSC, is no longer doing their tests on the new Omega Master Co-Axial movements. The Master Co-Axial movements are developed and manufactured in-house, can withstand magnetics up to 15,000 Gauss. During Baselworld, earlier this year, we already announced that these movement were being introduced into a range of Omega watches, and we praised the anti-magnetic properties of the movement. Exactly these properties will also be tested in the new tests, however let’s have a look at the specifics.
The C.O.S.C. tests
COSC stands for Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, or in English: Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. Pretty much every certified chronometers from Omega, Rolex, Breitling and many others, has received its chronometer certification from this testing institute. A benchmark you might say. There are several alternatives, like the testing facilities in the French National Observatory of Measuring Time of Besançon, which is used by Laurent Ferrier and Dodane. COSC is however much, much larger in terms of qualities, as they test millions of movements every year.
The COSC test is carried out on movements, which are placed in a plastic container. The timing capabilities of these movements will be measured for a period of 15 days, in five different positions and at three different temperatures (8, 23 and 38 degrees Celsius). When the timing is within the margins of -4 seconds a day or +6 seconds a day, the movement gets its official certificate.
The New METAS Testing Procedures
Well, METAS is not going to test any Omega watch. OK that might sound strange, however what METAS is doing together with Omega is in our opinion quite brilliant and we’re actually amazed that it took the Swiss (generally speaking) so long before a chronometer certification method like this one was announced. METAS will test and certify the testing procedures and machineries, which will be used to perform the tests in-house by Omega. This means that hundreds of thousands of assembled movements, which most likely already have undergone several tests within the Omega facilities, will not have to be transported to COSC in Geneva, to be tested for 15 days, receive their chronometer certificate, and being transported back to Omega.
This also means that assembled watches will be tested and not just the movements, which makes it possible for Omega to include the water proof testing into the certification process. It also means that the new Master Co-Axial movement can be tested (in a certified method) on how their anti-magnetic properties and how this effects their chronometer performance.
Last but certainly not least…. Omega and METAS announced that movement will only receive the Chronometer Certificate, if they perform between 0 and +5 seconds deviation per day.
Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek (in the middle), Omega’s CEO Stephen Urquhart and METAS invite other watch brands – meaning also non-Swatch Group brands – to participate in this new testing procedure. The new testing procedure allows for more stringent tests, allows for an integrated test that can focus on much more than just the chronometric rates measured during a 15-days test. And it allows for Omega to include a certified testing procedure that includes testing every timepiece with a Master Co-Axial movement, on its anti-magnetic properties. Omega will label the Master Co-Axial watches, tested under this new testing-regime, with ‘Officially Certified’.
This is great news, and we’re curious to find out more in the coming months, including which brands are going to join Omega in this quest to improve chronometer testing.