Sunday, August 26, 2007

France Gets Chronometer Certification

When COSC decided in 2003 that it would only award ‘chronometer’ certification to watches made in Switzerland, German jeweller Wempe wasted no time in setting-up the German equivalent at a refurbished observatory in Glashütte, Saxony. It even improved on the Swiss ‘ISO 3159’ standard by testing the cased-up, finished watch in five positions, rather than the bare movement.

But what about France? Admittedly, buoyant pockets of haute horlogerie on a par with Glashütte are far harder to come by, but up until the Eighties, the Bensaçon Observatory, founded on the campus of the Franche-Comte University in 1878, was issuing its own certificates to French precision timekeepers. And luckily for some – Bell &Ross perhaps? Michel Herbelin? Chaumet? – service will soon be resumed. A capital spending program by the university aims to set up, by the end of the year, equipment and procedures capable of processing several thousands of watches per annum. And what’s more, it will offer a distinct advantage over COSC, allowing testing not only of the basic movements, but also complications with additional modules, encased movements and even watches attached to their bracelet – all at a cheaper cost per watch, with a quicker turnaround (approx three weeks).

The French certification will carry the abbreviation CCOB (Certificat de chronometrie de l’Observatoire de Besançon), however it is not yet known whether movements that satisfy the –4/+6 sec/day criteria will still be stamped with Besançon’s historic seal of approval, a viper’s head.

from QP Magazine, 22 August 2007

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