The past two decades have seen a shift in why people wear watches. Thanks to the omnipresence of smartphones, laptops, and other digital devices, it’s no longer necessary to wear a watch to know the exact time. Some may claim that idea as sacrilege, but as a younger enthusiast, I know that the reason I fell in love with watches wasn’t that I was worried I would be late to dinner. While the reasoning we cherish our mechanical marvels of the wrist may have changed — be it a romantic fascination, an appreciation for design and engineering, or simply as a fashion statement — it’s always nice to have a timepiece that is more accurate than not.
The governing body for accuracy in the Swiss watchmaking industry is the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC). If you read WatchTime often, you’ve probably noticed it being namedropped fairly frequently when we discuss new releases. We recently went into detail about how the COSC operates and what is needed for a watch to receive the classification and we highly encourage you to check the process out. While it’s true that there will always be a correlation between price and the quality of movement, this list proves that you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to find an attractive Swiss mechanical watch that is COSC certified.
Last year, Longines introduced the Record Collection, a lineup of watches entirely certified by the COSC. Released in part to celebrate the brand’s 185th birthday, this entirely new collection includes four different sizes (26, 30, 38.5 and 40 mm) and a variety of dial options for men (six options) and women (seven options). Despite this diversity, the aesthetic of the models are still heavily influenced by classic watch design. Each wristwatch is time-and-date only with three hands and comes on a steel case – with the option of a diamond-set steel case for two of the ladies’ watches – and the choice of a steel bracelet or alligator strap. The movement utilizes a single-crystal silicon balance spring to increase longevity and ensure it fits COSC standards. The Record Collection starts at approximately $2,000.
For a long time, Tissot has been considered a leader in the affordable COSC-certified segment. In 2015, the brand totaled the fourth highest number of watches to receive the certification, falling only behind industry behemoths Rolex, Omega, and Breitling. Out of the dozens of brands that applied for and received the certifications that year, Tissot was the leader in quartz watches certified with 30,581 quartz timepieces out of its total 96,563 timepieces granted the designation. One of most impressive watches that Tissot has released in recent years is the Powermatic 80. The movement inside the watch first appeared in 2013 and is the product of a collaboration between Tissot and ETA. To achieve its lengthy reserve of 80 hours, its inventors developed a system that strongly reduces the consumption of energy. The oscillation frequency was reduced from 4 Hz to 3 Hz (21,600 vph) and a high-performance synthetic material was used in the escapement to reduce friction. Also, the diameter of the barrel arbor’s core was reduced, enabling the mainspring to be stretched, thereby increasing the power reserve. Since the Powermatic 80 was first released, it has become one of the more dynamic ranges for Tissot. Prices range from $585 to $2,950.
Christopher Ward is no stranger to releasing COSC-certified timepieces. However, the latest update to the Trident collection — which is one of the highlights from the forum-favorite brand — not only ups the accuracy with a chronometer certification but also adds a day-date complication for optimum wearability. Utilizing the ETA 2836 workhorse movement, you can expect compliments not only for the stand out monochrome aesthetic but also for its reliability. It is priced at $1,025 on a leather strap and $1,100 on a bracelet.
We’ll forgive you if you’re not familiar with Brellum. The young microbrand has generated quite a bit of buzz across the horological blogosphere in the past year thanks to good looks, accessible pricing, and COSC-certified reliability. The brand introduced its first collection, dubbed the “Duobox” last year. Brellum was founded by a fourth-generation Swiss watchmaker named Sebastien Muller. After 25 years in the industry, Muller decided it was time to use his knowledge to create an independent brand where he could maintain quality control and produce the watches he had always dreamt of making. Current prices range from approximately $2,000 for the “Classic Duobox” to slightly above $3,000 for the limited edition versions. Muller also recently introduced his first in-house movement with the Wyvern Manufacture Limited Edition.
Like its Swatch Group sibling Tissot, Mido is a force within the production of affordable chronometers. In 2015, the last year that the COSC released data on its production, Mido came in fifth for total certifications received with exactly 49,922. While you can find COSC-certified watches throughout the various collections (Baroncelli, Commander, etc), a recent favorite of ours is inspired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Click here for five things you should know about the COSC.