Third-party chronometer certification is often the easiest way for watch manufacturers to prove to customers that the movements in their timepieces are well-made and capable of running within their specified performance metrics. However, there are multiple different organizations that offer chronometer certification for the watch industry, and each one has different standards and testing practices.
COSC certification is easily the most prevalent and it is often seen as the gold standard in third-party chronometer ratings for watch movements. With that in mind, other organizations have even more rigorous standards than what is required for COSC chronometer certification and one of the more recent additions that has been getting a lot of attention within the last several years is METAS. However, what exactly is METAS and more importantly, what is METAS Master Chronometer certification?
What Is METAS?
METAS is the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, which is headquartered in Bern, Switzerland. METAS defines itself as the “federal center of competence for all issues related to measurement and for measuring equipment and measuring procedures” - and this can often include a wide variety of different matters and devices, including wristwatches (which measure time).
In 2015, in collaboration with Omega, METAS developed a new certification standard for wristwatches. METAS is a Swiss government entity that is entirely separate from Omega, but the testing for the brand’s watches is performed at Omega’s own factory, where there is a separate office for METAS staff who monitor the testing procedures. Despite being conducted at Omega’s facilities, the testing practices themselves are governed by METAS, as is the equipment used in the testing process itself.
Unlike Rolex’s ‘Superlative Chronometer’ standards, METAS Master Chronometer certification is not exclusive to Omega, and even Tudor has a version of the Black Bay that is METAS-certified. Just like any other fully independent testing facility, brands are able to submit their watches to METAS for chronometer certification - provided that the watches themselves meet the necessary criteria.
What Are METAS Master Chronometer Standards?
Although any brand can submit a watch to METAS for testing and certification, the watch itself must be Swiss-made and it must also already be COSC-certified. Timepieces submitted for testing will then undergo a variety of tests to verify that the watches are capable of adhering to METAS’s stringent -0/+5 seconds per day of maximum timekeeping deviation, in addition to resistance against the following potentially damaging and disruptive forces.
- Magnetic Resistance: METAS certification involves a series of eight tests, and the first three of them are specifically regarding magnetic resistance. Both the movements and the fully assembled watches are exposed magnetic fields equal to 15,000 gauss and timekeeping precision is checked against an atomic clock to ensure that deviation stays within standards.
- Accuracy: The next three tests all pertain to timekeeping accuracy and they verify that the performance of the watch remains consistent across six different positions, in addition to testing isochronism to ensure that accuracy remains stable at different levels of power reserve.
- Power Reserve: Beyond testing the actual timekeeping of the watch, METAS also verifies that the watch is capable of running for the complete duration of its listed power reserve.
- Water Resistance: Lastly, although it has nothing to do with the movement or its performance, METAS also verifies that the watches submitted for testing fully comply with their stated water resistance ratings.
METAS Tests Watches, Not Just Movements
One important thing to note is that while COSC certification pertains to just movements, METAS certifies complete watches and most tests are conducted after the movements have already been installed into their cases. It is for this reason why METAS certification standards include metrics relating to things like water resistance, which have absolutely nothing to do with the internal movements themselves.
Why this is important is because METAS certification provides a much more complete verification of a watch’s capabilities, rather than just its movement (before it was ever even installed in the watch). In theory, any timepiece could have a COSC-rated movement, even if the rest of the watch was complete junk. On the other hand, a METAS-certified watch is guaranteed to offer stringent timekeeping metrics, in addition to offering highly respectable levels of water and magnetic resistance.
All of that being said, just because a watch isn’t METAS-certified doesn’t mean that it isn’t capable of achieving the exact same performance metrics. Just like any third-party chronometer testing, METAS certification is an additional step and one that ultimately increases the cost (and therefore the retail price) of the watches that include it. However, if you do happen to own a METAS-certified wristwatch, you can almost guarantee that you have a high-performing timepiece that is COSC-certified, highly anti-magnetic, and proven to be capable of achieving its listed depth rating.