Stephen Urquhart, President of OMEGA, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek and Dr Christian Bock, the Director of METAS

Stephen Urquhart, President of OMEGA, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek and Dr Christian Bock, the Director of METAS

At a press conference at Geneva’s Cité du Temps on Tuesday, Swiss watch brand OMEGA and the director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) announced their collaboration on a new watch certification process that the brand will begin using in 2015 to test each of its Master Co-Axial watches.

Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek was joined by Dr Christian Bock, the Director of METAS, Stephen Urquhart, President of OMEGA and OMEGA Vice Presidents Raynald Aeschlimann and Andreas Hobmeier.

The anti-magnetic movements were introduced on a large-scale in OMEGA’s Master Co-Axial watches earlier this year.

Nick Hayek then pointed out that Swatch Group has long been a leader in its promotion of the Swiss watch industry and the “Swiss made” label and he expressed his satisfaction with the innovations that have made it so robust. He added that Swatch Group is committed to retaining its leadership position in the Swiss watch industry and said that the partnership with METAS was the logical next step.

Nick Hayek suggested that in recent years it has become obvious that the COSC chronometer certification, long the industry norm, needs to be strengthened.

In the middle of 2015, the first OMEGA watches will be produced with the Master Co-Axial Officially Certified designation. A significant difference between the new certification and its predecessors is that it will test the finished watch instead of its movement.

Dr Christian Bock, the Director of METAS, was introduced and explained the role that his organization plays in the Swiss federal government. The Institute, he said, is the centre of competence for the Swiss government for all matters involving measurement and measuring procedures.

The METAS Director said that the new certification process would give OMEGA and other Swiss watchmakers the opportunity to demonstrate the quality and timekeeping performance of their watches to a greater extent than has previously been possible. He added that it was important to point out that METAS is completely independent – with no bias or prejudice – and only agreed to work on projects when it was convinced that its neutrality was not compromised. The agreement with OMEGA has no suggestion of exclusivity and other clients would have access to the same certification.

In order for a watch to have the “Officially Certified” distinction, it will be tested for their precision during and after exposure to magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss – they will have to perform within a tolerance of 0 and +5 seconds per day, for autonomy (functioning without winding, measured in hours) and water resistance.

Owners of watches that are Master Co-Axial Officially Certified will be able to access online or via a smartphone the results and performance parameters of the tests passed by their watches.

In response to a question following the presentations, Mr. Hayek said that the current level of innovation certified with the Master Co-Axial calibres is presently unbeatable and added that the new standard would motivate other brands to move ahead to meet the new criteria. “This,” he said, “would benefit the entire industry – not only in Switzerland but in China and Japan and in other countries with a history of innovative watchmaking. More importantly, it would also benefit the consumers and that has to be a good thing.”