How many Swiss movements did COSC test last year? Who are the top ten COSC-players?

1.732.526 movements were sent to the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) to be tested in 2012. My top ten ranking unveils some real surprises…

What is the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) doing? The Swiss COSC is testing the accuracy of mechanical- and quartz-movements (not the entire watch, just the movement) and then certifies the result by a COSC chronometer certificate that belongs uniquely to the movement tested.

Testing criteria are based on ISO 3159 that defines a wrist chronometer with spring-balance oscillator. The procedure lasts 14 days these are the deviations in seconds tolerated for a mechanical movement:

  • Average daily rate: -4/+6
  • Mean variation in rates: 2
  • Greatest variation in rates: 5
  • Difference between rates in H & V positions: -6/+8
  • Largest variation in rates: 10
  • Thermal variation: ±0.6
  • Rate resumption: ±5

There is no ISO standard for quartz timepieces yet, but there is development in this field. These are the deviations in seconds tolerated for a quartz movement:

  • Average daily rate at 23 °C: ±0.07
  • Rate at 8 °C: ±0.2
  • Rate at 38 °C: ±0.2
  • Rate stability: 0.05
  • Dynamic rate: ±0.05
  • Temporary effect of mechanical shocks: ±0.05
  • Rate resumption: ±0.05
  • Residual effect of mechanical shocks: ±0.05;
  • 200 shocks equivalent to 100 g (981 m/s², 3,217 ft/s²)

Not all companies do provide the original COSC chronometer certificate to the client. Instead they issue their own certificates attesting that the movement of the watch was tested by COSC and past the test.

Let me now give you the figures from last year. First you always read the brands name, then the amount of movements tested in 2012. In brackets you can read the amount of movements tested in 2011 and thereafter the increase or decrease from 2011 to 2012 expressed in percent.

  • Rolex 799.000 (751.000) +6,4%
  • Omega 526.000 (509.000) +3,3%
  • Breitling 157.000 (154.000) +1,9%
  • Mido 61.000 (49.000) +24%
  • Tissot 50.000 (7000) +614%
  • Panerai 29.000 (34.000) -15%
  • Chopard 23.000 (29.000) -21%
  • Enicar 16.000 (17.000) -6%
  • Titoni 15.000 (21.000) -29%
  • Invicta 10.000 (0) –%

So now you have to understand, that these figures of course do not automatically mean that all these movements later had been assembled to an entire watch and sold. There is a lot of politics behind who ranks where and when, so I personally especially doubt the figures of Rolex. I have various sources telling me that Rolex in 2012 by no means sold 799.000 COSC certified watches.

Everyone who read my REPORT knows that I estimated that Rolex sold around 600.000 watches (including some even not COSC tested pieces) last year. So there is a gap of almost 200.000 units. The only answer I have for this phenomenon is that obviously more movements are tested to always be the number one on the COSC list. Either Rolex last year did put already tested movements again to COSC, or even the movements going through after sales service were also tested at COSC, or Rolex produced much more then needed and did put some 200.000 movements on stock.

Omega sold some 800.000 watches in total so I don´t need to doubt the 526.000 movements put to COSC in 2012.

Concerning Breitling I will now have to correct my estimated figure of 200.000 watches sold in 2012 to 157.000, since Breitling certifies 100% of its production, mechanical and quartz. Of course it is possible that also Breitling plays around with COSC

À propos quartz: All Invicta movements were quartz and 35.000 were coming from Breitling.

Where is TAG Heuer? A former big player in this ranking… No clue! It seems that TAG Heuer does deliver less and less movements to be certified by COSC.

Mido is performing strong and might be even stronger next year. It´s in the strategy of the brand to sell COSC-tested (movements) watches for a reasonable price.

The BIGGEST surprise here is of course Tissot with an increase of 614 % from 7000 to 50.000 movements. I heard from various sources that Tissot might literally invade the COSC to kick Rolex from its throne. The new movement enabling Tissot to do so is a derivate of the new Swatch Sistem 51 automatic movement produced by ETA. But guys inbetween you and me: Also Swatch could easily tune its Sistem 51 movements to pass COSC. Yes, the Swatch Sistem 51 is that good! Imagine what would happen if Swatch would start doing this? The only reason why Swatch will never certify in bigger quantities is the price point. But who knows if we shall not see a COSC certified Swatch in the future. Guys, we will have to follow what Tissot plans. If Tissot invades the COSC with its Sistem 51 derivate then we shall see some real surprises…

Why all the other COSC-figures shown here are negative, this might have different reasons: Either the companies mentioned sold less watches in 2012 and therefore did not put more movements to COSC for testing, or the reason simply is that some of the 2011 tested movements belonged to special editions and therefore miss in 2012.

I will keep you updated and as soon I have new interesting facts for you I will let you know.


Comments? As always they are highly appreciated! Please let me know what you think…





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13 replies on “How many Swiss movements did COSC test last year? Who are the top ten COSC-players?”
  1. says: BigdSpringer

    Are the numbers for movements submitted or for those that actually passed? If the former, this would explain the apparent discrepancy in the COSC figures vs actual sales. Just a thought, as is the following; how come a certified chronometer from Rolex can be regulated by lying it face up to gain time or crown up or down to lose time, amounts of time way beyond the variations allowed by COSC?

  2. says: Leonard Martinez

    Too bad there isn’t some sort of test for durability. It’s cool to see “COSC” emblazoned on the dial or caseback of your watch, but if you’re buying an automatic, you already expect it to be running fast or slow. What’s +/- 7 seconds per day if you know how your watch runs? If you have your watches on winders, you can see which ones are fast, slow, the most accurate. Maybe we already know from statistics which movements keep on ticking through the hard knocks and which ones are more fragile, although I’ve never seen a list thereof. I was amazed at the accuracy of the Miyota 9015 when I first purchased a watch with that caliber. On the winder it was more accurate than any of my watches with Swiss movements. Moreover, I’ve had two watches with ETA 2824-2 movements break down for reasons unknown. The Miyota movements have a reputation for being “workhorses.” If the Miyota 9015 proves to be as rugged as its siblings, then you’ve got the best of both worlds in an inexpensive movement, and the watch it’s in won’t have the prestigious COSC emblem either. Like I said, it’s cool to have “COSC” on your watch, but for me, it”s not a deal breaker if it doesn’t.

  3. says: charilos.kinezos

    hello there is charilos from Sydney Australia and I need to know

  4. says: Ooi Chew Wah

    There must be a strict standard for product and services ,imagine you are not sure if your air bag will work during a collision……and COSC should tighten up and make sure to avoid being too commercialized . Just my 2 cents.

  5. says: Marco Ronchese

    COSC is a STANDARD ! It is not a free service. It has to be paid for. You will always have the new stupid little maverick in management that will not recognise the fact that when it comes to a personal item such as a wristwatch, that the buying public have standards too…
    I, for instance have not worn a wristwatch for forty years, because of bang per buck issues, they all broke down, Omega’a etc. and could not stand up to the rigors of my lifestyle. Now that I am 64 years old and not running around so much, playing golf, tennis, carpenting in my workshop etc. I was thinking that perhaps I would like to buy a new watch. If I am going to shell out a small fortune for a top Swiss Watch and not buy a radio controlled atomic watch (for absolute accuracy)as I had in the USA, I would certainly want written proof that the watch is what it holds itself out to be, accompanied by a genuine COSC certificate of authenticity and accuracy. Thank God for the likes of COSC, because quality is dying word in this instant and disposable day and age.

    1. says: Petr

      The COSC is a piece of paper that has some (marginal) value. Nothing more, nothing less.

      First, the COSC requirements were tightened back in 70’s and since then, no one accepted to tighten them further despite the development of parts/movements, tolling, equipment etc. Ever wondered why the industry couldn’t agree to tighten the requirements further?

      Second, as pointed before there’s a number of manufacturers that have their own standards and they don’t really care about COSC. Would anyone buy Patek Philippe w/ a COSC certificate? Not really, people expect much higher accuracy. Same for JLC…

      Third, based on my understanding, only swiss made watches can get the movements COSC certified. Would that mean A. Lange watches are worse because of the missing paper? Not really

      Net, i don’t care much for the piece of paper as long as the watch comes from a reputable manufacturer…

  6. says: Abdulaziz

    A fruitful report Alexander. Martin Braun, a non COSC, sharply accurate. By n means i compare it with a COSC brands likke BTR, at least from my part.

  7. says: alex ioancio

    Remember what said Nicholas Hayek
    Everyone in this business is lier more or less!

  8. says: Amir

    I guess a general question for all is if they believe COSC is necessary?? Some
    High end manufacturers are self testing, other non COSC movements perform just as well…

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