2011 Concours International de Chronometrie

Some may remember the inagural 2009 Concours International de Chronometrie; a reawakening of the tradition of Observatory-based chronometer trials. Well, not quite, but a good effort for a shy Swiss watch industry which eschews meaningful timekeeping standards. The tests were diluted in comparison with past trials to consist of three consecutive 16-day COSC tests, but with the innovation of shock and magnetism stresses being introduced between the 2nd and 3rd phases. In truth, analysis of the scoring forumla revealed that the final COSC test, after shock and magnetism, was allotted 50% less weight than the first two....hmmmm.

Anyway, after a year of rest, the 2011 Concours International de Chronometrie was conducted this fall. A chance peek at their moribund website surprised me today with announcement of the results!

To get to this point, competitors had to delcare their interest in January of 2011. Complete watches had to be submitted to the organization by May and tests began in August. 18 timepieces were submitted in three categories; tourbillons, classic movements, and watch schools. Here were the combatants:

Tourbillons: Chopard, Frederique Constant, Greubel Forsey, L.Leroy, MHVJ, Journe, Technotime

Classic: Voutilainen, Chopard, MHVJ, Mido, Journe, Technotime, Tissot

Watch Schools: two from ETVJ of Le Sentier, CIFOM of Le Locle, NAWCC of Columbia, USA

On October 20, 2011, the results were announced. The competition must have been grueling, or the participants weak, as none of the watch school submissions survived. In fact, only two of the seven classic watches made it to the finish. Tissot captured 1st place with 764 points out of a possible 1000, while Journe lagged severely behind with 488 points.

Of the glamorous Tourbillon watches, Greubel Forsey racked up a credible 915 points, followed by Chopard with 855 and Technotime at 791.

Other than category winners, the results are kept confidential but individual manufactures are free to disclose if they wish. For comparison, the 2009 overall winner was a JLC tourbillon which scored 909 points. However, six of the 16 submissions also failed to finish that year.

I had such hopes in 2009 that objective timekeeping measures would begin to replace the flacid COSC standards or non-existant Geneval Seal standards. Certainly 2009 was a compromise affair, perhaps necessarily so to encourage participation by the very cautious Swiss watch industry. Unfortunately, it seems to this observer that 2011 hasn't moved the concept forward other than in time frown

Re: 2011 Concours International de Chronometrie
10/22/2011 - 03:07
Thanks for the update Dean. I find it interesting that the tourbillons seem to be able to take the torture of the 2nd and 3rd series of tests better than the classic movments (more seemed to have survived the testing intact AND the scores are much higher). I wonder how much of this is due to the fundamental benefits of a tourbillon vs. the greater attention to detail and mfg. that a high-end tourbillon watch may receive? BR, Dan
I think one major issue with this contest was the lack of
10/22/2011 - 12:26
clarity regarding the rules which lead many brands not to participate and this includes those like JLC who had participated and won in the previous edition. Having a Chronometry contest is a goog thing (even though 99% of watch buyers wouldn't give a hoot) but it would need to gather the major brands and organised in a way which would interest the market. The current contest is way too much under the radar. Thefact than an ETA won doesn't surprise me, this movement has been around for over 30 years and made in the millions, it is probaby one of the moste reliable calibers in the world! As for COSC, it is basically Rolex's quality control depertment cheeky
Lack of boldness...
10/22/2011 - 18:33
Yes Alex, the first edition was tentative and brought much criticism as being "much ado about nothing".  I think their lack of boldness was apparent; they failed in taking the position that timekeeping exellence was their vision and moving that forward without compromise.  The problem was the partnerships were conflicted, as COSC had too much influence and didn't want anything which diluted the value of their process.  Sadly, it was a parochial affair that was International in name only.  Alas, you don't get change by repeating the same old things...
Olympics for watches
10/22/2011 - 13:42
I don't think buyers, or at least not enough buyers, care less about this in their buying decision, so the event needs to speak to the Manufacturers. If they get enough prestige out of it, it is clear, and robust, a niche event could grab more column inches and ultimately then become a buying influenced. But watches are not cars for example. We read care safety and performance reviews that are purely objective as a part of our buying decision. Cars are even more emotive, and for far more people than watches... Yet most people still have little idea or interest in all the tests that they go through. G
Hence the money plunged into marketing....
10/22/2011 - 18:39
I have to reluctantly agree Gary frown.  It seems the Swiss watch industry gave up on mechanical precision following the quartz movement, and now prefer to compete on the pages of glossy magazine (or e-zines nowadays).  Dollars plunged into marketing could be better spent in research, quality control, and after-sales service.