Who are Switzerland’s Top Chronometer Producers?


Rolex, Omega and Breitling once again lead the list of Switzerland’s top producers of chronometer watches. Data recently released for 2009 by Switzerland’s official chronometer testing agency, COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres), shows that the Big Three accounted for 78% of all chronometer certificates issued that year. (A watch is designated as a certified chronometer if its movement passes a series of stringent tests administered by COSC.)

The number of movements submitted for testing to COSC dropped dramatically in 2009, as watch companies cut production in the face of the global recession. After a record number of applications in 2008, the total dropped 27% last year to 1,160,000. Consequently, the number of certificates issued by COSC in 2009 fell 27.4% from 2008 to 1,160,631. The last time the total was that low was in 2004. The overwhelming majority of movements earning the chronometer designation – 94% – were mechanical; the other six percent were quartz.

The smaller chronometer output reflects major production cutbacks by Rolex, Omega and Breitling. Since Rolex and Breitling only sell chronometer watches, the COSC data is a good indicator of their output for the year. The number of COSC certificates issued to Breitling last year was 108,220, a 55% drop versus 2008. Omega’s total of 187,558 was down 50% from 2008. Rolex’s total of 607,512 was down 21% from the previous year.

Still, Rolex remains Switzerland’s undisputed chronometer king, a position it has held for decades. More than half of all COSC chronometer certificates go to Rolex.

TAG Heuer moved up one position into fourth place in the chronometer ranking thanks to a chronometer surge last year. The 70,195 certificates issued to TAG is nearly twice its 2008 total of 35,429. Rounding out the top five producers was Panerai, whose 40,562 total was down about 6,000 from the previous year.

The rest of the top 10 chronometer producers – Chopard, Mido, Ball Watch, Titoni and Tissot – increased their number of certificates last year. Ball, Titoni, and Tissot moved into the top 10 ranking for the first time.

A total of 27 Swiss brands produced more than 1,000 certified chronometer watches last year, according to COSC.

A comparison of the 2009 data versus 2008 shows that four firms made big jumps in the ranking. Ball moved up seven positions to #8. Over the past two years, its chronometer production has jumped from 2,105 to 15,455. Titoni moved up eight positions into the #9 spot. Montblanc jumped seven spots into 15th place. And Bremont moved up six spots into #20.

Several brands headed the other way. Movado ranked #18 in 2008, but was not on the 2009 list. Ulysse Nardin dropped six spots to #14. Corum moved down eight spots to #19.

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COSC Data 2009

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