Philippe Fischer, President of the Organizing Committee of the International Chronometry Competition, has just officially announced the 2019 edition. On 13 Sep 2018, faced with around 800 watchmaking professionals, he revealed the calendar, between March and December 2019, the new features of the regulations as well as the indisputable reasons for participating.
In watchmaking, the International Chronometry Competition is considered as equivalent to the F1 Grand Prix motor racing. If a timepiece is taking the start of this Grand Prix, it is thanks to the fact that it has successfully completed the first precision test according to the ISO 3159 standard.
During 80 days, participating watches – registration deadline 31 March 2019 – will be subject to a battery of tests and validations: if the results of the first precision test allow it, the ” nominee ” status will be awarded and the name of the watch will be announced during the official launching ceremony of the competition. For the other timepieces, the rest of the operations and the transmission of the results will be done anonymously. Thus, despite the fact that these un-nominated watches remain real mountains of watchmaking know-how and expertise, the organizers are able to guarantee brands that no negative rumours will cause even a slightest damage to their image.
In 2019, only watches that satisfy the Swiss Made criteria will be eligible to compete. After the first precision test conducted by the COSC Office in Le Locle (the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing) the nominees’ watches will be exposed at the Timelab Foundation in Geneva to invisible attacks by strong magnetic fields (ISO 764 standard).
From then on, and this time on a trip to La Chaux-de-Fonds, the competing watches will be embarked for 21 days in the intentional horrors of simulated accelerated ageing. This is the famous battery of tests epitomized by the Chronofiable® label, a protocol renowned for the harshness of its treatments. The pieces that will emerge unscathed are heroic watches. Moreover, a third and final chronometry inspection according to ISO 3159 will be conducted this time back in Le Locle, in order to evaluate the impact on the reliability of the “chronofiable” attacks suffered. The fourth accredited institution, the supreme authority, is METAS, the Federal Institute of Metrology, which chairs the Jury of the Competition.
The final ranking will be determined by the results of the watches. Whether they are Tourbillon, chronographs or similar to “simple” three hands, the winners will be divided into three shades of excellence each time defined by a lower threshold. This leading group will make the headlines, it will be used for years or even decades as a prestigious trademark. Because if the International Chronometry Competition is not a label in itself, its reputation as a title acquired through measurement and without any hint of human interventionism, remains the most indisputable of signatures.
As the heir to one of the most prestigious watchmaking traditions, this competition does not allow any human appreciation to interfere. It is the scientific expression of the science of chronometry, i.e. the ultimate quest for precision, the most subtle and successful calculations of which it expresses. Before quartz came to shake things up, these competitions were real highlights in the past. They were as promising as the Universal Exhibitions, which sometimes served as their showcase. Even today, brands still use their aura in their current advertising. They sometimes get thrilled at the exceptional value increases that such titles bring to their historical models in auctions.