Another lame International Concours of Chronometry
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    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    When will this end! Starting in 2009 and run every second year, the Concours International de Chronometrie was plagued with a lack of brand participation after a very promising initial event. It was even cancelled for 2017, creating a four year gap for the organizers to cajole the Swiss watch industry into supporting an independent and public test of their timekeeping abilities. It should be a no-brainer considering that there are all of these Seals and standards held up by the brands as proof of their technical excellence. Ah but only one winner and so many losers, n'est pas?

    So with the 2019 edition, the awards ceremony scheduled for December 16th at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Le Locle has now become a "celebration of watchmaking precision". This shift of language became understandable when I read the Press Release...

    "The law of mathematics technically precludes any announcement ceremony. Because, since the first round, which is an elimination round, has passed, only one watch is still in the competition!"

    Gawd

    http://www.concourschronometrie.org/...-maintened.pdf
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    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Do we know which watch is "still in the competition". I read quickly through that document, but I didn't immediately see the winner.
    -- Dan (formerly known as @badbackdan)
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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    I think that this kind of testing and certifying is a nostalgic thing of the past and I can understand that producers don't see much sense in competing there and rather spend their time designing cases and dials (or sign a contract with Lady Gagga), once a certain technical stage has been reached. What difference do a few minutes more or less in a month make? Does anybody think that Porsche, Mercedes or BMW would compete every two years in an event celebrating the best made stage coach?

    He, who is mainly interested in precision gets himself a quartz watch or, even better, a radio-controlled watch, which is frequently adjusted to an atomic clock with a precision of +/- 1 second in several million years. In short term operation, we are getting ever closer to +/- 1 second in 1 billion years.

    This kind of testing and certification was a highly valuable thing when only mechanical watches were available. We all know what difference the watch (marine chronometer) of John Harrison made to navigation at sea, encouraged by the Longitude Act of the British Parliament. It turned the world upside down, ships could take different and more direct routes, reducing health problems on board due to shorter travel, we had less shipwrecks and also the decline of piracy was due to the fact, that ships were not forced to sail along standard routes. The H1, H2, H3, H4 of John Harrison, all on display in London, is something that can make you fall on your knees – even today. Later, Larcum Kendall made watches based on the H models (now called K) and the K2 was on board of the Bounty, famous for the mutiny. It was recovered Pitcairn Island and is now also on display.

    All watch collectors of mechanical watches are more or less aware of the fact that they are treasuring these little machines not primarily for precision in time. It's the fascinating technique and the work done inside a mechanical watch, and to some the brand name is important (especially in certain environments), to others certain features, others want a diver with 100ATM whilst never going deeper than in the backyard pool, and some are turned on by a chronometer certification, whilst their kids in Kindergarten have a more precisely running quartz watch on their wrist for $ 4,99. And - above all – we should never forget, that such a test is just a snapshot and that the precision gets worse every day until the next service and the next service and the next service, even when lying around unused due dried in oils. How many watches in collections do get such a treatment? On almost all of them, it's just the printing on the dial what's left of the superior chronometer quality.

    I guess that event in LeLocle can line up well with the Highland Games in Scotland. Why not making that a joint event, one year in LeLocle and the next in Balquhidder or Lochearnhead?

    Sorry to be so sarcastic, but I try to see that from a producer's point of view to understand why they are not so enthusiastic about such an event.
    Tick Talk and 707mm2 like this.

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    Member georges zaslavsky's Avatar
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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Again another bunch of middle of the range ETA and Sellita powered watches will probably win in that so called competition, nothing comparable to the golden era of the chronometrical competitions from the 40's-50's-60's-early70's where Zenith, Omega and Logines used to be the leaders with their own inhouse movements
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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    I think that this kind of testing and certifying is a nostalgic thing of the past and I can understand that producers don't see much sense in competing there and rather spend their time designing cases and dials (or sign a contract with Lady Gagga), once a certain technical stage has been reached.

    Sorry to be so sarcastic, but I try to see that from a producer's point of view to understand why they are not so enthusiastic about such an event.
    Sadly, I think you are probably representing the manufacture's position quite well. OTOH, their hypocrisy is missing. Nostalgia represents a great deal of the marketing thrust for many Swiss high-end brands. It was a renewal of interest in "mechanical" watches that revived the Swiss watch industry and has been used to set them apart from the quartz hordes. Brand aficionados become quite lyrical over the technical advances announced at the trade shows. Triaxial tourbillons! What for if not to enhance timekeeping?
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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan S View Post
    Do we know which watch is "still in the competition". I read quickly through that document, but I didn't immediately see the winner.
    The entries were made in secret as part of an earlier compromise to encourage participation. We won't know until the ceremonies who actually won, and even at that point the brands which failed can maintain their anonymity if desired.
    Tick Talk says, "A watch in the hand is worth two on the wrist"

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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    I think that this kind of testing and certifying is a nostalgic thing of the past and I can understand that producers don't see much sense in competing there and rather spend their time designing cases and dials (or sign a contract with Lady Gagga), once a certain technical stage has been reached. What difference do a few minutes more or less in a month make?
    It certainly does and it seems more people are starting to pay attention to that.

    • Me? I know I want my watch to be within a minute of official time. I don't mind if my watch is COSC or how many seconds a day gains or losses, but how it works on my wrist, at my usage pattern. A dressing watch I wear a single day from morning to night? I don't mind if it moves a minute a day. A "weekends watch"? no more than 20 s/day is OK-ish. My "daily beater"? That's where things start being funny:
    • On a watch I wear day in-day out, anything worse than a minute/week, I won't use it, since I want to only fiddle with my watch on weekends, when I have the time/mind share for that. On the other hand, I basically don't mind if I have to put it in time every Sunday, so I don't find that much difference if my watch is +8s/day or -5s/day: in both cases, that means "put it in time by Sunday". That's, more or less, COSC territory.
    • The next level is the "new" METAS: they basically guarantee I'll only need to set my watch one weekend every other. Not that great but, hey, it's and advance.
    • Rolex' Superlative, while more or less the same precision level than METAS is much better: because its range is symmetric, now I can set my watch only once a month, which I think is great.
    • Then, the future: Once every two months is a nice "natural frontier" since that would mean setting the watch's time and calendar at the same time. Once every six months would mean adjusting time when I'm setting it anyway for summer/winter savings. Beyond that I don't see any benefit for a wristwatch, provided I have access to "good" time sources when needed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    Does anybody think that Porsche, Mercedes or BMW would compete every two years in an event celebrating the best made stage coach?
    Well, they certainly do, because that's a matter of interest for prospective buyers and the car industry is also interested in feeding that interest.

    You not only have cars' saloons, car of the year, etc. but also have real performance competitions: F1, tourist car competitions as strong as the German one... even for cars that builders don't really want to compete each other on, go for a little theater and you'll see their times on "The Green Hell" and will proudly show the badge of fastest in their category (while, at the same time pushing for its category to basically only cover one car -theirs).

    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    He, who is mainly interested in precision gets himself a quartz watch or, even better, a radio-controlled watch, which is frequently adjusted to an atomic clock with a precision of +/- 1 second in several million years. In short term operation, we are getting ever closer to +/- 1 second in 1 billion years.
    That's right (the quartz part, I mean). For the radio-controlled watches... well, they work for as long as they have access to their sources, bad luck after that. And given they don't have to be that much precise because of the external source, I wouldn't be surprised if in reality they are worse than a cheap Casio.

    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    This kind of testing and certification was a highly valuable thing when only mechanical watches were available. We all know what difference the watch (marine chronometer) of John Harrison made to navigation at sea, encouraged by the Longitude Act of the British Parliament. It turned the world upside down, ships could take different and more direct routes, reducing health problems on board due to shorter travel, we had less shipwrecks and also the decline of piracy was due to the fact, that ships were not forced to sail along standard routes. The H1, H2, H3, H4 of John Harrison, all on display in London, is something that can make you fall on your knees – even today. Later, Larcum Kendall made watches based on the H models (now called K) and the K2 was on board of the Bounty, famous for the mutiny. It was recovered Pitcairn Island and is now also on display.
    I will concede the obvious: that those certifications were most valuable when only mechanical watches were available.

    But that doesn't mean they are not valuable now. As you say, a mechanical watch shows a "fascinating technique". To me, that they can't compete with a quartz doesn't mean I don't want mechanicals being pushed to their real limits, just the same that knowing that a Moto2 is no "enemy" for a MotoGP doesn't make Moto2's championship any less interesting.

    The problem is, not that many people share my interests and, obviously the industry is not interested in feeding them: microbrands/emerging companies, the ones more interested in challenging the statu quo in any industry, don't even produce their own calibers, and the big companies know they are much better off as luxury brands than watch makers, so the thing they want the less is competing on objective measures. Which is a pity since the part that is worse off on this exchange is -we, the customers.
    Tick Talk and Border-Reiver like this.

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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Quote Originally Posted by jmnav View Post
    The problem is, not that many people share my interests and, obviously the industry is not interested in feeding them: microbrands/emerging companies, the ones more interested in challenging the statu quo in any industry, don't even produce their own calibers, and the big companies know they are much better off as luxury brands than watch makers, so the thing they want the less is competing on objective measures. Which is a pity since the part that is worse off on this exchange is -we, the customers.
    Well put. Thankfully, at least here on the vintage pages, the discussion of what color dial is best with my suit or what strap goes with my shoes doesn't dominate....argh, more nostalgia....
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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    I am not sure what movements qualify for the competition but I would expect the new Zenith "Oscillator" technology to thrash all other mechanical movements hands down. The maximum deviation (as declared by the makers) is ca. 0.3 seconds/day! Unless that movement is disqualified for certain reasons (silicon escapement?) or has issues with the demands placed on it by the test (no resistance to extreme shocks?).....

    Thanks for digging that up - I do remember the first test in 2009 and did wonder what happened to it these days.

    Hartmut Richter

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    Re: Another lame International Concours of Chronometry

    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmut Richter View Post
    I am not sure what movements qualify for the competition but I would expect the new Zenith "Oscillator" technology to thrash all other mechanical movements hands down. The maximum deviation (as declared by the makers) is ca. 0.3 seconds/day! Unless that movement is disqualified for certain reasons (silicon escapement?) or has issues with the demands placed on it by the test (no resistance to extreme shocks?).....

    Thanks for digging that up - I do remember the first test in 2009 and did wonder what happened to it these days.

    Hartmut Richter
    The rules for participation:

    Participation

    The Competition is open to watch companies: brands, movement makers, development offices and independent watchmakers. The exhibits submitted must be marketable and have been assembled, adjusted and regulated in the participating company. A company may only submit one piece to the Competition.

    Criteria for the admission of watches

    The pieces admitted to the Competition are cased mechanical wristwatch watches, without bracelet, conforming to the specifications of the registration form. They must meet the criteria of Swiss Made. They can be equipped with a regulator position compensation mechanism (tourbillon) or an interlocking mechanism (chronograph). In the latter case, the mechanism is triggered at the 10th day of rate measurements.

    The display must allow unequivocal reading of the hour, minute and second.

    The case of the watch must fit in a diameter of 52 mm, crown and lugs not included, and must not exceed 20 mm thick. A plan indicating the dimensions of the case must be provided at the time of registration. The Contest reserves the right to refuse a piece that can not be processed on the standard equipment of the organizations performing the tests.

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