Tudor’s latest addition is more than its technical and aesthetic characteristics. It is a masterstroke on the watchmaking chessboard. Let’s see more about it.
In billiards, you’d call it a three-strip shot. Because with this new Tudor Black Bay Ceramic, it’s actually Rolex that’s in charge. Let’s see why.
The rivalry between Rolex and Omega dates back several decades. Rolex is today the leading Swiss watch brand, far ahead of Omega (Swatch Group) and Cartier (Richemont). But the balance of power has not always been this way. There was a time when Omega executives required retailers representing both brands to choose just one of them. Those who chose Rolex did not regret it.
In this titanic struggle, everyone advances their pawns, always hoping to score decisive points. This is how Omega did a fantastic job and announced in December 2014 the launch of a new certification as “Master Chronometer”, guaranteeing the proper functioning of its watches despite extreme magnetic fields (up to 15,000 gauss). In doing so, Omega had a threefold objective: to impose a new standard on the entire industry, to position itself as a leader and to make competitor certifications obsolete.
Milgauss vs 15’000 gauss
And what if Omega then focused its communication on the issue of magnetic fields (while certification covers many other elements – see below), was not by chance? While countless everyday objects (cell phones, computers, magnetic closures for handbags, etc.) emit strong magnetic fields, and these can have a negative influence on the good performance – and therefore accuracy – in the mechanical movements of watches, watchmakers had to take an interest in these questions.
In reality, they did it in the 50s, and found solutions, but for resistances to magnetic fields having no common measure with what they are today. This is how Rolex broke new ground by presenting its Milgauss watch in 1956, which, as its name suggests, is resistant to magnetic fields of 1000 gauss. This model remains a reference at Rolex.
By presenting in 2013 its Master Co-Axial movement resistant to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss – the equivalent of the radiation emitted by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device – Omega laid the first stone of its strategy. By announcing a year later, the establishment with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) of a new standard and an official certification to guarantee this resistance to 15,000 gauss, the flagship brand of Swatch Group set a second milestone.
By joining forces with the Federal Institute of Metrology – patron of all official measurements in Switzerland – Omega was playing an excellent card and intended to give a Swiss, independent and indisputable character to this new certification. Certification necessarily open to all brands, since the METAS institute is independent and neutral. But in reality, nobody imagined that another brand would be interested in this certification, particularly achieved by Omega.
The chief’s surprise
In the end, it took 7 years for another brand to take an interest in Master Chronometer certification. And it is – surprisingly – Tudor, sister brand of Rolex, and more affordable, which comes to rub shoulders with Omega by launching its new Black Bay Ceramic with Master Chronometer certification.
By doing so, Tudor is de facto placing itself at the same level as Omega in terms of certification. Even so, this certification is widely used by Omega while it is only offered (for the moment?) on a single Tudor model. Which is priced at USD 4.725 vs USD 8.650 for Omega’s closest model, the Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black launched this spring.
Beyond this strategic chess game between the Rolex group and Omega, Master Chronometer certification is a real asset for a watch. Tudor does not fail to recall this by emphasizing a few essential points. METAS Master Chronometer certification is comprehensive and covers the main functional characteristics of a watch including precision, resistance to magnetic fields, waterproofness and power reserve. Its standards are incredibly high, starting with precision. In order to qualify, a watch must be able to function within a 5-second range of variation each day (0 +5), that is to say 5 seconds less than the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) (-4 +6) carried out on a single movement and a second less than Tudor’s internal standard, which is applied to the brand’s models with a Manufacture Calibre (-2 +4). The certification also guarantees the timekeeping accuracy of a watch subjected to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss. Finally, it also guarantees that the waterproof capability claimed by the manufacturer conforms with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 22810:2010, as does the power reserve of each Master Chronometer watch. It should also be noted that two prerequisites are necessary before the certification can be obtained: Swiss manufacturing must conform with the criteria of Swiss Made, and the movement must be certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).