Five Chronometer-Certified Watches That Won’t Break the Bank

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. 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. 

Longines Record Collection

In 2018, 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. Tissot Luxury Automatic with the Powermatic 80 Automatic caliber

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 C60 Trident Day-Date COSC Limited Edition

Christopher Ward is no stranger to releasing COSC-certified timepieces. However, the recent 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.

The Brellum Duobox Power Gauge Limited Edition Ghost

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 recent years 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.

Mido Inspired by Architecture LE - Guggenheim

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.



No Responses to “Five Chronometer-Certified Watches That Won’t Break the Bank”

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  1. John McGinnis

    After much research , I am buying a TISSOT COSC WATCH – T.006.408.36.057.00 .
    I will do a review if you are interested . Thanks , John

  2. Not strictly true. Mobile phones only have inbuilt time pieces as an addition to the main function, which is the phone, and the time on phones is only shown as hours and minutes, not seconds. You can certainly cope without a watch these days, but many people don’t like having to rely on their phones to tell the time when a quick look at the wrist is much more practical. I don’t see watches as ‘obsolete’, far from it.

  3. I have just bought the Christopher Ward Trident COSC Acan limited edition on a bracelet and it’s my first COSC chronometer, it’s fantastic! Loses about half a second per day which blows away my other Seiko powered automatics for accuracy, and I thought they weren’t too bad at about +5 secs per day. It’s really worth paying a bit more for COSC certification if you’re a watch enthusiast….

  4. For the Tissot, Mido, and Certina watches, does the labeling “Chronometer” without “officially certified” or “COSC” mean it still meets COSC standards?

  5. To comment on the first paragraph I think another great reason is to have a chance to leave your phone behind. Tell your date “lets leave out phones in the car” then flash your watch.

  6. omegatalon

    Watches are essentially obsolete because almost everyone in the world has one of the most accurate time pieces in the world via their cellphone; thus, one has to think the market for watches will continue to shrink which will lead to consolidation and disappearance of brands.

    • James B

      Some like boxers (phones), some like tightey whities (watches). I don’t criticize your choice- please don’t criticize mine. I can’t help you if you don’t appreciate the finer and more traditional things in life. I have an iPhone and check the time in Hodinkiee only to verify the skillfully produced mechanical marvel I wear on my wrist. Your phone is dated when you buy it. None of my watches are. Your phone will go in the junk drawer in 24 months or less. My watches will live on for generations.

      • Well said James, our mechanical watches, vintage and modern, are timeless. Cheers

    • DonnieBiscuits

      A watch enthusiast blog is probably the wrong place to state this particular opinion about the future of watches.

    • Yeah, but not in my lifetime. So, my prophet of doom, I for one ( and probably many of like mind, I.e. the horologicaly obsessed) will continue to in enjoy these mechanical marvels for many years to come!

  7. Hi Logan,
    Frankly, what do you find appealing in the Brellum? It seems that the buzz you’re referring to comes exclusively from the owner…and there is in fact only one model…For that price I still prefer to acquire a well-know brand.

  8. The longines record 40mm steel is a beautiful piece, I can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere in the UK though.

  9. Thanks for the article. The Brellum is a wonderful timepiece that rivals my others at one-third the price. They really are spectacular.

    • Adam Hodge

      I agree. Ball has a nice COSC diver model.

      To be honest though, some of the in house tests from watchmakers, like IWC, are more strict than COSC. It is a nice 3rd party qualification, but on the other hand a buyer who does their research should not exclude a model simply because it is not COSC certified.

      • James Thompson

        Agree With

        I Own/Wear A Ball Deepquest, Ball Is Underrated In My Opinion. I Am Looking Forward To Acquiring The Ball NEDU, And The Ball New GMT.

        • James OFlaherty

          Although most internet reviews have positively agreed with the comments made here, as another Ball watch owner,I’m happy to see that this,largely ignored, piece of U.S horological history is being given its due. My fireman has been an excellent timekeeper for two years while being checked against the auto mic clock. All that and Tritium lume has made Ball an all time favorite.

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