Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

Today, Omega has announced some very exciting news in regard to how it will certify the performance and accuracy of their timepieces with in-house produced movements. In short, Swiss Omega will continue to submit its chronometer designated movements to COSC Chronometer certification tests but, after casing up the COSC certified movements, it will put these Co-Axial Master Chronometer watches through a series of in-house tests which received a comprehensive certification by the Swiss government controlled METAS agency. One major reason for this is that moving forward more and more Omega watches will contain the company's Co-Axial Master Chronometer technology which includes both a unique type of escapement as well as anti-magnetic properties. According to parent company Swatch Group, Omega is about to offer what possibly is the most comprehensive and extensive way of certifying a mechanical watch. Let's see what all this means in practice.

Watches, and especially higher-end ones are sometimes sold with certain certificate issued by third parties – the most common being the COSC chronometer certificate (Rolex is COSC's biggest customer).  COSC Chronometer certification is about accuracy and performance, and others  a testament to the origin, quality of execution, or reliability of the timepiece in question. In recent years, we have seen Omega debut a number of very exciting developments concerning its proprietary movements – with the latest news being that its calibers bearing the "Master" designation in their name are highly anti-magnetic without necessitating a soft iron shield. We have discussed the Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement in greater detail in our article about the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial (hands-on here).

Today, we are with Omega in Geneva as they announce another interesting step forward: Omega will start working together with METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology to supply its Co-Axial Master Chronometer with a very stringent and comprehensive certification and, perhaps more important, to create a new and highly complex standard of watch certification that will be offered to other, even non-Swatch Group brands.

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

To put it into perspective, when it comes to certifications, the term "COSC" will certainly sound familiar to anyone more intrigued by the accuracy of fine timepieces. Also known as the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (or Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres), the COSC has for long been a household name among watch brands who wanted to emphasize the quality of their watches with a certificate: a watch that was sold with a chronometer certificate issued by this institute is known to be accurate within -4 to +6 seconds a day.

What is less commonly known is that it is the ISO 3159 standard that defines what a chronometer watch is – simply put, a chronometer is a timepiece with superior accuracy. COSC will test submitted movements (placed in a plastic case) for a period of 15 days in five different positions and at three different temperatures (8, 23 and 38 degrees Celsius). The exact practices of METAS' certification processes are not known, but what we do know is that in many ways, it is more stringent and more demanding than the ISO certification process. So what does METAS offer, and how does it differ from other certificates?

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

While COSC is responsible only for testing watch movements, METAS is a much larger organization that is involved in a great number of different sciences that require exact measurement: METAS' involvement goes from "legal metrology" related to weighing instruments, electricity, and a number of other sciences through chemistry and optics, all the way to frequency and time. What matters to us most is, of course, the latter: timing.

Practically, METAS operates several commercial cesium clocks and has collaborated with the Laboratoire Temps et Fréquence of the University of Neuchâtel (previously known as Observatory of Neuchâtel) for many years. All these – and also much greater, albeit in our case, quite irrelevant – efforts are made, as METAS is responsible for the dissemination of the official time in Switzerland. In watchmaking country, that is quite a big deal, and goes to show the institute's involvement in scientific undertakings related to timekeeping. On a basic level to see a luxury watchmaker work with a government scientific organization or certify its mechanical watches in this day and age is pretty cool.

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

Another important distinction is that COSC is an independent, privately owned company that has no shareholders – meaning that, technically, no brand should be able to gain any influence within the company – and it is audited and accredited by the Swiss service for accreditation. By contrast, METAS is an independent and neutral federal agency, which – in theory – means that the watches and movements it has verified have received a federal certification by the Swiss government. However, Omega has mentioned that even though the certification is offered by METAS, the testing will actually take place under Omega's roof in the interest of efficiency (and because at least as of now we don't believe METAS has a facility to test watches - unlike COSC in Geneva). METAS will however be certifying the equipment used to do all the certifying.

"In-house certification" using third-party certified machines and procedures theoretically causes a rift in trust because the point of third-party certification is to be... well, third-party. Omega now has the duty to prove that even though though it will control certification internally, that it will adhere to the strict policies and requirements set forth by METAS. Having said that, Omega's relationship with METAS does not involve total in-house certification processes and controls like Patek Philippes does with their "Patek Philippe Seal." This example by Patek Philippe shows that it is not uncommon, or even highly suspect for a company to control a certification process in-house in the Swiss watch industry.

Omega's relationship with METAS, for the foreseeable future will be to test Omega's Co-Axial Master Chronometer movements, which will be officially certified for the following key factors: METAS will test the function of each and every Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement when exposed to magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss; the function of each watch when exposed to a magnetic field of the same strength; and even the average daily precision in different positions and temperatures to fall between 0 and +5 seconds per day (that is considerably less forgiving than the -4 to +6 second tolerance of COSC's chronometer certificate). Furthermore, the power reserve and water resistance of the watches will also be tested. This does not include other movements that may be included in Omega watches.

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

METAS will also monitor the production equipment, which – when it comes to Omega testing the anti-magnetic properties of its Co-Axial Master Chronometer movements – is a massive magnet (that weighs 1,500 kilos or around 3,300 pounds) that was developed by Omega and is designed to create a permanent magnetic field that is over 15,000 gauss strong. METAS, beyond its other duties in the certification process, checks and confirms the strength of this movement. Basically, the new METAS certification is not only arguably more stringent than COSC, but it is specifically designed test for magnetic resistance.

An interesting aspect that concerns not just Omega but the Swiss watch industry at large is that while Omega has worked together with METAS in creating this new certification process, other brands – even those not part of the Swatch Group – will be able to have their watches certified. As Nick Hayek, CEO of the Swatch Group explained, with this move they would like to urge other brands to further develop their own movements in a way that makes them more accurate and also anti-magnetic. With that, Swatch Group follows up on what the late Nicolas Hayek Sr. has started around 15 years ago, when he first proposed (and later carried on) to drastically reduce the amount of movement kits and finished movements that ETA supplied to the industry. And while this certification process arguably is a less draconian measure, in the mid to long-term it may have a positive effect and further encourage high-end competitors of Omega to further develop their own calibers.

Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Watches Submitted To METAS Certified Tests Watch Industry News

Today well over 90% of Omega calibers are Co-Axial movements and about 10-15% of that amount are Co-Axial Master Chronometer (i.e. anti-magnetic) movements. Omega has promised that eventually all of its in-house made movements will be "Co-Axial Master Chronometer." A really neat feature of METAS certification - unlike COSC certification - is that the wearer of any one watch equipped with a METAS certified Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement will be able to visit the Omega website and use their unique watch serial number to check the specific performance of his/her watch during the certification process. Also, Omega says that the Co-Axial Master Chronometer will have an "Officially Certified" label on the watch (of course).

When we discuss highly complicated watch movements which claim to offer better timekeeping performance, a (quite logical) point that is often made by watch enthusiasts is that there is little to no guarantee coming from the brand that the claimed performance will actually be offered by the produced watch. With this complex certification system in collaboration with the federal agency of METAS, Omega will be able to provide a certificate that is both stringent and complex enough to testify to the real-world usability and reliability of its Co-Axial Master Chronometer movements. It also offers additional value and distinguishing factors that help make Omega timepieces just that much different from the competition. According to Omega and METAS watches with the new certification will begin to become available in 2015, and a new production facility in Bienne, Switzerland near the Omega headquarters is being built to house the new department and equipment which should be open in 2016. omegawatches.com

  • DangerussArt

    Smells like a scheme to justify and increase Omega’s already inflated prices. Increases related to this expense have to be coming. Yes, it provides some “value” to accuracy mavens, but I’ve been deaf to any cries for this or something more stringent than COSC. Personally, I don’t need this level of accuracy, or wish to pay Omega to pat themselves on the back, or create certificates for something they’ve already attained. Loads of industries exceed ISO standards in their wares, but I don’t see them fabricating a new personalized standard of excellence. This certificate tells me little more than Omega makes the best Omegas. Thanks for that…

  • Leone Colonna

    Cosc is for loosers 😉

  • MikeinFrankfurt

    So…to make a long story short, in addition to testing and certifying timing to chronometer levels, METAS will be certifyng the anti-magnetic properties to a standard as well? I doubt the COSC will sit idle…

    I don’t mind having a certification on my watch but in 2014, if I pay decent money for a watch, I expect it to do what it is supposed to do; tell time accurately and live up to whatever specs the company has promised.  This strikes me as esoteric marketing that, if not explained succinctly, will not translate into extra sales revenue.

  • Zeitblom

    “This example by Patek Philippe shows that it is not uncommon, or even highly suspect for a company to control a certification process in-house in the Swiss watch industry.”

    Patek P does it, so that means it’s ok? Errr…. well actually this scheme is a lot better than PP’s ridiculous system of marking its own exam papers.

    I think it’s good that Omega is doing this, otherwise we will have more fiascos like IWC putting out in-house movements that keep far worse time than their ETA movements.

    But on the other hand, I don’t understand why Omega is making such a big deal about being resistant to magnetism. What’s wrong with soft iron? Does the same thing or better, and it’s cheap. Oh I’m sorry it’s heavy isn’t it, can’t go about weighing down people’s arms with some gigantic mass like 100 grams or something…..

  • Reading through this, I was of two minds.  On one hand, yes, it is cool that Omega is pushing to codify what, exactly, their movements can stand up to and apply a “stamp of approval” to said capabilities.

    On the other hand, I was also calling to mind all of the “New and Improved” sorts of marketing that you commonly see attached to products in the stores.  The certifications are a mark of specifications met (or exceeded), but it is not like you are choosing between a COSC movement and a  (now) METAS movement to be placed in the watch  – whatever brand you go with will determine the certification attached to it.

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  • Coming soon to an Omega watch near you – 10% price hike thanks to METAS.

  • TomBew

    DangerussArt
    I wondered if this would not actually be cheaper than COSC, since it will be done on site. In addition, Omega will have $$ incentive to automate this procedure as much as possible.

  • X2Eliah

    Hmm.

    I do wonder whether the new gateholders for this certificate will allow non-european brands (Seiko comes to mind as an obvious example) to undergo the certification process as well.. Afaik they weren’t allowed to take COSC tests, even if some of their products easily match the specifications/performance.

    And, tbh, I don’t know if this whole thing essentially being in-house testing for Omega is acceptable.

  • DangerussArt

    TomBew DangerussArt You assume cost efficiency will be passed along to the consumer?  Riiiiight.

  • DangerussArt

    Let’s talk about accuracy for a bit. If the paramount concern was magnetic resistance and accuracy why would you even consider a mechanical in the first place?  For instance, (and I’m generalizing here) let’s say the average quartz is good for +-0.5 sec./ day. That smashes the METAS or COSC standards already, but lets take it a step further, You can buy watches that re calibrate 5 times a day to an atomic standard, so your theoretical max. deviation is never more than 0.1 second.
    Considering only accuracy, spending $8K+ on a METAS certified Omega or any other mechanical is akin to ignoring $200 laser scopes and spending thousands on the world’s most accurate water balloon slingshot.

  • CG

    METAS will increase costs… no gov’t agency in the history of mankind is neutral. I think the Swiss are eventually trying to get State backing to compete in very expanding market. If METAS can define a superlative machine then it could be a good thing… but it still is a Federal agency reinforcing Swiss bias, nothing wrong with that!

  • premastered

    NVJim “Just wondering; if people start worrying about magnetism, will they buy Omegas or be scarred into buying quartz?”

    They will buy into vintage models that were built before Omega’s master initiative. Secondly: The only real benefit for endusers would be a
    movement that doesn’t need service anymore except if it’s damaged by water
    entry or shocks or – in very seldom cases – irritated by magnetism.
    This “magnetic danger” issue is bothersome. Nowadays movements are perfect,
    apart from the fact that they need regular service and lubrication.

  • Fraser Petrick

    I have an Omega Seamaster Quartz; that is, I have all the surface/visual qualities of Omega with the dependability and accuracy of quartz – and I paid $2400 (tax incl.) for it, not $8000+. In my modest collection, it will always be my “wow” watch.
    Certificate/Schmertificate..

  • Various precious metals, new anti-magnetic movements and now Metas but I still take my watch, be it a Rolex, Omega, Vacheron etc, for accuracy adjustments and of course I pay extra money for that service on an almost regular basis!!!!! I would love to see my daytona, speedmaster and 72 in a quartz version!!!!!! Unfortunately, I still can’t find quartz based fakes of the above watches but the Chinese are coming soon!!!!!

  • Hector Paredes

    Good to know Omega!

  • shinytoys

    My first quality watch was an Omega that my dad gave me for a birthday present. It belonged to him, and I was over the moon to receive such a gift. Still have it today and it runs beautifully. Since then as an adult I have purchased several more with varying types of complications. I love the product, and the new testing furthers watch accuracy and certification and will most likely become the new benchmark of quality and accuracy. WAY TO GO OMEGA !!!  Doesn’t surprise me a bit. Many thanks David for an excellent article, well done. Very informative.

  • NVJim As if ANY modern buyer outside the 0.002% of “WIS” like us cares about all this silliness

  • Basically an irrelevant non-story and a marketing gimmick for Swatch Group and their ingenious push to further monopolize and dominate the Swiss wristwatch industry machine.
    Buyers…other than utter geeks like those here…don’t know or care about these certifications and/or amazingly precise timekeeping. If a watch is close to being somewhat accurate, then good enough. As long as it looks good. 
    Omega may one day soon be the most accurate mechanical watch on the planet, but I still doubt very much I’ll get one (other than a nice vintage cal.321 Speedmaster). 
    I don’t hate the brand (hating a brand seems so weird) or Swatch Group but Omega definitely leaves me with an utterly “blah” feeling all around and if I want super duper accuracy then I’ll get a Grand Seiko quartz or an Astron.

  • TomBew

    DangerussArt TomBew
    Well …. I guess that makes me a true optimist!
    I have to agree with you – there is zero evidence that any of these brands pricing have much to do with production cost – since their largest single line item expense is “promotion”.

    I have never been able to fully understand the economics of Luxury Goods.

  • Time2Go

    DangerussArt Couldn’t agree more.  Hard to believe anybody can really take this “news” seriously!

  • SantiagoT

    “Patek have their own seal for their own watches and I can’t MY seal?? F*ck that!” -said Mr. Hayek one morning, lighting his first Montecristo of the day.

    At least METAS is a serious institution. I mean, they don’t even have a decent logo! Just go to their site and see. These people will test the machinery that runs the test, not the watches themselves. What would be interesting is seeing the yearly report on tested watches. Rejection rate and all that.

  • One of the key factors in COSC is that they only test movements (in test harnesses),not completed watches. So there is a difference in the real world practical impact of the testing. COSC being a private company and somewhat of the only well known game in town might have irked Swatch/Omega or caused them to want to get price competition (or just lowered units costs) by going elsewhere. And the cost to Omega will no doubt be lower as they don’t have to send their movements to COSC only to have them returned and then encased. I’ll bet this save Omega money.
    Does anyone really need that level of accuracy in a mechanical watch? Maybe not, but like Rolex, they want to put “Chronometer” on the dial not so much because the owner demands the few extra seconds of accuracy per day, but because “Chronometer” = higher quality. And quality helps justify the high price of a luxury good in the buyer’s mind.

  • Lkcons

    I think its a move upwards to take on Rolex head-on – and a good one at that. So, your Rolex runs between -4 and +6 a la COSC?
    Pity, my META Omega does between 0 and +5…and  I can actually check online before I buy my Omega what the actual specs are?

    No contest. Good for you, Omega.

  • bichondaddy

    Since I the majority of my watches are quartz chronographs….this isn’t something I worry about.  Yeah…my dress watches are autos or old time hand crankers….but I don’t worry about them.  Yeah I guess it’s cool to have a COSC…heck…I hear you can even get COSC quartz watches now days….but if I really am that concerned about the accuracy of one of my watches…I just pull out my G Shock…you know…the one that is updated a gillion times a day by the atomic clock…and reset it that way.  Heck…if I am on my computer….I just pull it up on the little app I have on my desktop….I mean…doesn’t everyone with a smart phone have the app for the atomic time????

  • “Chronometer” on the dial never stopped a lot of people from confusing that with chronograph, unfortunately.

  • bichondaddy Yout don’t even need an atomic clock app on your phone as it gets its time from the phone network which uses a standard time signal, which ultimately gets it from an atomic clock in Colorado.

  • Chaz_Hen Yeah as in, “Where is the start/stop and reset button on my Chronometer? I think they screwed me.”

  • Faraaz01

    Read somewhere that they would start testing their  Master Co-Axial watches using METAS standards as of mid 2015. So if a watch just recently becomes METAS certified does that mean the Master Co-Axial you already owned also become informally METAS certified? Also when are they going to start conforming the 85-90% of their watches that use Co-Axial movements to Master Co-Axial movements?

  • outremer

    Nothing important, just climbing up the added-value chain.

  • Ulysses31

    This is primarily a marketing move.  I don’t believe for a second that Omega want to somehow encourage other manufacturers to raise their standards to meet METAS requirements as that would only increase competition for Omega which is something they wouldn’t want.  I don’t associate the Swiss watch industry with such altruism.  It’s more likely that they are trying to recoup on the huge investment they put into anti-magnetic technology by promoting a new standard that they can then conveniently demonstrate they exceed.  Let’s face it, when it comes to long term accuracy of a mechanical watch, the interference of extremely powerful magnetic fields isn’t the most common threat  It’s great for people who work in a power plant or at the LHC but outside of such cases the “inferior” shielding widely used in the industry is more than adequate.  Find a way to make a completely thermally stable movement that is totally immune to changes in position and that’ll pique my interest more than a watch that is immune to an ultra- powerful magnetic field i’ll probably never encounter.  It’s a neat party trick if you happen to have a huge solenoid lying around, nothing more.  That this test is performed by Omega themselves kills any hope of impartiality, only reinforcing my belief that this is just a new way to sell more product to those guys who like playing Top Trumps with their watches, comparing practically-irrelevant specifications.  “How many Gauss, kiddo?  8000?  Pfft, your watch is garbage compared to my Omega.”

    It’s worth noting that the half-Gauss strength of the Earth’s magnetic field at the surface is not enough to justify people talking about “long-term accuracy” benefiting from anti-magnetic technology.

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  • aleximd2000

    I think after their first biggest competitor in number of units TagHeuer was stabbed with the ETA trial now the second victim wants to be Rolex. 
    Omega has to realize that there is enough place under the sun for everybody. I think , yes that Mr Hayek woke up and said that’s it that is the way I would squeeze a little extra from everybody with this new testing bulls..t. Why doesn’t he put under the patent the round shape of a watch case . And after that nobody can use anymore a round shape anymore.
    I recall one of these days I had a problem with my UN and I was pretty angry about it, that it has no reliability.And I wondered that one of my any other watch with an ETA movt does not has this problem . So the bottom line is that I prefer something well known and reliable other than something fancy but not done with time test. 
    The same thing was with the 1.9 litre VW engines , everybody knows that they are the most reliable engines made for everyday use. I prefer to have a 1.9 litre diesel in my any car and to run eco friendly and reliably 500.000 km than to use something plastic garbage which brakes apart after 80.000 km. Cheers people

  • Jus_ad_bellum

    wow, what a huge game changer. I wonder how COSC is going to respond

  • bichondaddy

    MarkCarson  Well Mark…like I have said countless times…I don’t own a smart phone…nor do I want one…so I wouldn’t have known !!  LOL

  • bichondaddy And that’s the good news! You don’t need no stinking app. The time on your not-so-smart-phone is already the correct time with any app nonsense.
    And I agree – if you can live without a smart phone, you can certainly live without a smart watch. So there Apple and Samsung!

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  • nickyb66

    Just Omega trying (again) to be different from Rolex and others. I have had both Rolex and Omega watches, both are very good. However for me at least, Rolex has the edge on build quality, resale values and, up to now, accuracy.

    That’s not saying Omega are bad, far from it, a great company with a lot of heritage. I just think Rolex is that bit more ‘special’.

    • Guy Montag

      I have two omegas (Planet Ocean and Diver 300m) and two rolexes (Sea-Dweller & Air King).

      I usually wind up wearing the Omegas because they have curved crystals and therefore don’t have all that reflective mirror effect when you try to look at the time. The Rolex is more likely to flash in the light like a mirror, making it look shiny and catch someone’s eye. Also more likely to reflect the white ceiling above you giving a foggy look to the watch face you’re trying to see. This is a bit of form over function in my opinion.

      The time they keep is pretty in line and of course based on the adjustment of the movement.

      Planet Ocean +0.5 per day.
      Diver 300m -1.5 per day.
      Sea Dweller +2 per day.
      Air King +2 per day.

      I have no doubt the Rolex’s could be dialed in for better but they’re all fine and very consistent.

      Design-wise the build quality of the Planet Ocean tops the lot I think. It has the clearest face read and lume, the visibility of the time on this watch is just excellent.

      Totally agree with you on resale retention going to Rolex. Mostly because the average Joe doesn’t know shit from Shinola when it comes to watch brand and it has name recognition. I do think Rolex used to be more special.

      Omega has really upped its game lately. I don’t see anything in rolex’s lineup that’s very special as of late and my last purchase ended up being Omega due to it.

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  • Fast Driver

    Judging from the comments here, only a 5 or less like Omega’s move. The rest are complainers or ignorant. If Rolex switched to METAS for certification, I am certain everyone would be patting them on the back. 😉
    Unlike the majority of you, I can see the benefit of this. Prices rise all the time for things around us. Most of it is a “too bad because you need it” category. Watches are optional, though. So, if you do not like this choice by Omega you should find something to fit your budget at Wal-Mart.

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  • Maciej Nejmantowicz

    Let’s not forget that Fleurier Quality Foundation exists for 10+ years and they use CSOC as a part of their certification, have the same +.5 standards and are open to all brands. If Omega was so altruistic, then they’d work with them to add gauss testing. Come on, everything done by Omega and validated by a government agency. I’m sure they have a guy who say’s “And no funny business” (Big Lebowski ref.), after every test. I agree with Ulysses31, “It’s more likely that they are trying to recoup on the huge investment they put into anti-magnetic technology by promoting a new standard that they can then conveniently demonstrate they exceed.” COSC is independent hence should be unbiased, that makes trust. I’m sure everyone would jump on the VW Smog certification too.

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