Chronometers at Baselworld 2014: the latest achievement
Watches are made to tell time, and preferably with as much precision as possible. Yet, it sometimes seems that this fundamental concept is taken for granted and consequently its relevance seems to wane.
Having said that, this year some watchmaking brands have chosen to present timepieces specially designed to tell time as accurately as possible. This is achieved through mechanisms which ensure optimum precision under normal conditions.
Every year brands distinguish themselves from the rest by presenting high-precision chronometers, that is to say, pieces whose sole or main feature is to tell time with above-average accuracy. But the question still remains where this average and this perfection lay, because they are definitely not the same for everyone. We shall defer, in this case, to the values established by the COSC –the “Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres“– often considered as the first level of a certain perfection. As such, a mechanical watch with a daily (called diurnal in watchmaking jargon) rate variation of between -4 and +6 seconds will be considered accurate enough to qualify as a chronometer.
This may seem an easily achieved target, but quite to the contrary. Indeed, so that mechanical timepieces can be this accurate and maintain a stable frequency in all situations, special setting bodies are required. In fact, these timepieces are often expensive and have complicated movements. With the Maestoso, Christophe Claret has developed a very aesthetic heart with a pivoted detent escapement to achieve a precision worthy of a marine chronometer –often regarded as a benchmark for accuracy. That is probably why his calibre –though smaller– resembles in all respects the mechanisms of ancient marine chronometers. These instruments, by the way, were obviously Arnold & Son’s specialty.
Fashion-conscious aficionados might prefer more contemporary designs and therefore choose Chopard’s L.U.C 8HF Power Control, an ultra-precise creation whose 8hz high frequency movement beats at 57,600 vibrations per hour. This, incidentally, was the world’s first COSC-certified movement. But it takes all sorts to make a world and thus Tissot, too, has created a chronometer for collectors who seek mechanical precision at the best price. Tissot’s is an effective and sober piece with a beautiful, 53-hour power reserve calibre. This timekeeping instrument proves that guaranteeing the best chronometric rates is not always a matter of money... even if it often helps.