Recently we've seen a number of luxury watch brands developing their own
in-house certificates of quality, going beyond mere Swiss Made and other third
party certificates. This trend mirrors that of watch movement production moving in-house, and away from external suppliers; complete vertical integration, it seems, is now the name of the game. For the consumer however, the result is a confusing array of seals and certificates. Here is our guide to help you cut through the noise.


COSC

The Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (or Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres — Cosc) is an independent, privately owned, third party organisation that has established its certification as an industry standard for high-end mechanical watches, ensuring accuracy to within -4 to +6 seconds a day.


METAS

The Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology is responsible for the dissemination of the official time in Switzerland. It recently collaborated with Omega to develop the Master Chronometer.


MONTBLANC 500 LABORATORY TEST

A total of 500 hours of in-laboratory testing time that was previously applied only to a small number of high-end Montblanc watches has now been rolled out to the entire Heritage Chronométrie collection, with more to come. Tests simulate the first year of a watch’s life-cycle in the factory over 500 hours, flushing out any technical faults in the process.


OMEGA MASTER CHRONOMETER

A new denomination created by Omega in 2015, and accredited by Metas, each movement must first be Cosc certified and is then subjected to additional tests
that replicate real-life wearing conditions. These focus on power reserve capacity, chronometric precision, water resistance, and resistance to magnetic fields.


POINÇON DE GENÈVE/GENEVA SEAL

The seal was ostensibly introduced in 1886 as an emblem of Geneva’s fine watchmaking skills; its focus today is on provenance, quality, craftsmanship, and reliability. By tying itself to a specific geographic area, namely the Swiss canton of Geneva, this certification  harks back to an era of traditions, guilds, and master craftsmen. Today it is a highly regarded for its standards in decorative finishes on a watch.


QUALITÉ FLEURIER

This certification was launched in 2001 by a collective made up of Chopard, Parmigiani Fleurier, Bovet Fleurier, and the Vaucher watch manufacture, all
based in and around the Swiss town of Fleurier. The certificate introduced its own aesthetic and technical criteria, while choosing not to limit itself to a specific geographic area, unlike the Poinçon de Genèva.  A watch’s case, display, and movement must all be 100% Swiss Made, it should have a Cosc certificate, not contain any plastic, withstand a 24-hour stress test, and have decorative finishing.


ROLEX SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER

This in-house certification was launched in 2015, and is now applied to all watches that leave the mega-brand’s factory floor. It is intended to go beyond
existing standards in accuracy, and focuses on precision, power reserve endurance, waterproofness, and  self-winding efficiency. It has an accuracy range of +2/-2 seconds per day, in addition to the Cosc certificate tests, helping to justify the superlative denomination.


SWISS MADE

This certification denotes a watch containing a Swiss movement that was cased up in Switzerland, and that has been inspected in Switzerland. After a number of mass market watch brands began exploiting the expansive loop holes in this denomination’s criteria, heavily devaluing it in the process, from 2017 onwards a watch’s Swissness will not be assessed using the movement alone, but rather the entire watch. High-end brands typically look for a more prestigious certification in addition to Swiss Made as a way to distinguish themselves from the mass market

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