When, on December 9, 2014, Swatch Group called a last-minute press conference, the watch community was more than a little curious about what could be so important it couldn’t wait until after the holiday season. They weren’t disappointed. The world’s largest watch group had lined up its top bosses in Geneva to announce the new Master Chronometer certification. In-house quality seals were all the rage at the time, but this was a different beast: this was an independent certification, developed in collaboration with METAS, the Swiss government office in charge of weights, measures and measurement standards. That Swatch Group chose Omega to “test the waters” was no coincidence: compliance with some of the toughest criteria in the industry would be the final seal of approval for the Co-Axial movement that Nicolas Hayek had chosen as Omega’s calling card.
Less than a year later, Omega obliged with a new Globemaster, outfitted with the Master Chronometer-certified Calibre 8900. And there would be more. Many more. Since then, Omega has succeeded in having all its watches and Co-Axial movements certified by METAS. And with no other contenders, it was beginning to look like the new standard had been made-to-measure for Omega. Until Tudor arrived on the scene.
Producing a movement that meets such stringent standards doesn’t happen overnight. Tudor first contacted METAS back in 2019. The rules of Master Chronometer certification stipulate that only Swiss-Made watches can apply, and the movement must already have been certified by the COSC, the country’s official chronometer testing institute. Only then can it begin the equivalent of an army assault course: exposure to a magnetic force of 15,000 gauss – equivalent to an MRI scanner –, immersion in water and exposure to variations in temperature, while maintaining chronometric precision of 0 to +5 seconds, measured in six positions with a power reserve of 100% and 33%.
Master Chronometer certification, which Tudor describes as “comprehensive” and covering “the main functional characteristics of a watch including precision, resistance to magnetic fields, waterproofness and power reserve,” marks a critical stage in the brand’s development. After laying the groundwork with a reminder of its heritage and credentials, it turned its attention to movements and, in 2015, presented the MT5621. This was Tudor’s first in-house calibre, a solidly built and reliable movement in line with brand ethos. The MT5601 and MT5602 soon followed, benefiting from remarkable competencies at Kenissi, the movement manufacturer behind this new direction. These new movements caught the eye of Breitling, and a deal was made for the two brands to trade calibres (Breitling contributing its famous B01 chronograph movement). This was a rare move for the industry, and even rarer for it to be out in the open.
Carrying on this lineage is the in-house MT5602-1U that equips the Black Bay Ceramic Master Chronometer. This latest Black Bay features a monobloc case in matt black ceramic, a black ceramic bezel and a domed black dial with contrasting luminescent snowflake hands and indexes. Water-resistant to 200 metres, it comes on a “hybrid” leather and rubber strap. The movement, which has also been given the black treatment, is equipped with a silicon balance spring and delivers 70 hours of power reserve. As Tudor moves further into in-house territory, it leaves no doubt about the potential of a brand that has always believed performance and quality are compatible with affordable price positioning.