Certina: Sports Watch Specialists
Certina is famous for its robust sports watches. This traditional Swiss watch manufacturer's catalog contains everything from diving watches and racing chronographs to stylish three-hand watches with a moon phase display or second time zone.
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Sporty, Elegant, and Doubly Secure
The Certina story began in the Swiss town of Grenchen in 1888. Then known as "Kurth Frères S.A.," the company quickly earned a reputation for high-quality, robust timepieces. The name Certina comes from the Latin word "certus" (or "certain") and reflects the business' dedication to security and longevity.
Introduced in 1959, the ever-evolving DS concept embodies this philosophy. The abbreviation "DS" stands for "Double Security" and signifies that Certina watches are particularly shock and water-resistant. Every Certina timepiece has a depth rating of at least 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). Classic sports watches like the Certina DS, DS-2, Super PH500M, and DS DiaMaster are still among the world's toughest watches and able to stand up to the harshest conditions, whether it's on blustery mountaintops or deep underwater. A DS DiaMaster has even adorned the wrist of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Today, Certina splits the descendants of these vintage models into four collections: Aqua, Urban, Sport, and Heritage. The Aqua and Sport collections are home to diving watches like the DS Action Diver and motorsport-inspired chronographs like the DS Podium. As its name implies, the Heritage collection revisits old Certina classics and brings them up to modern standards. Last but not least, the Urban collection contains sporty dress watches that look just as good running errands as they do at the office.
Certina sources both their automatic mechanical calibers and quartz calibers from Swiss movement manufacturer ETA. Select movements also feature complications like a second time zone, moon phase display, or chronograph. Like most sports watches, Certina crafts a majority of their cases out of stainless steel; however, certain models also have a black or gold PVD coating.
Reasons to Buy a Certina Watch
- High-end sports watches at fair prices
- The robust "Double Security" system
- High-quality Swiss quartz and automatic calibers
- Men's and women's models
Prices at a Glance: Certina Watches
|Model/Reference number||Price (approx.)||Feature(s)|
|DS-3 Super PH1000m, 919.1||4,500 USD||Vintage, water-resistant to 1,000 m (3,281 ft), date|
|DS-2 Chronolympics, 8601 800||4,400 USD||Vintage, chronograph, date|
|DS Eagle Chronograph, C023.727.37.051.00||1,800 USD||Chronograph, date|
|DS-2 Chronograph Flyback, C024.618.11.051.02||950 USD||Flyback chronograph, date, Precidrive quartz movement|
|DS Action GMT Powermatic 80, C032.429.38.051.00||890 USD||Second time zone, date, 80-hour power reserve|
|DS-8 Moon Phase Chronograph, C033.450.11.051.00||780 USD||Chronograph, moon phase, date|
|DS Podium Chronograph GMT, C034.654.11.047.00||720 USD||Chronograph, second time zone, Precidrive quartz movement|
|DS Action Diver Powermatic 80, C032.407.11.091.00||720 USD||Water-resistant to 300 m (984 ft), date, 80-hour power reserve|
|DS-1 Powermatic Himalaya, C029.807.16.031.60||580 USD||Date, 80-hour power reserve|
Vintage Certina Watches
Certina watches boast remarkable longevity, as evidenced by the large selection of well-maintained vintage models on Chrono24. There are plenty of pieces from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, as well as classics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Those interested in the earlier group of models will find a wide range of three-hand watches, including several that bear the company's former name, Kurth Frères. Each is powered by a manual movement, often with a small seconds or pointer date. At 34 mm in diameter, the cases are rather small by modern standards for men's watches; however, they make fantastic women's watches. You can purchase a stainless steel Certina from this period for as little as 220 USD. Versions with a yellow gold case can cost upwards of 670 USD.
If you're looking for watches from the early DS era, you should be prepared to make a larger investment. For example, prices for a Certina DS from the 1960s fall between 1,400 and 3,200 USD depending on its condition. The DS-2 Chronolympic, a cushion-shaped two-subdial chronograph, demands about 4,400 USD on average. Before you can put the DS-3 Super PH1000M's 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft) depth rating to the test, you'll have to dive a bit deeper into your pockets. This timepiece changes hands for around 4,500 USD pre-owned.
In the 1970s, Certina brought several unconventional timepieces to market, including the DS DiaMaster and the BioStar Electric. The former is the result of a collaboration between Certina and Rado and features a scratch-resistant tungsten case. On the other hand, Certina outfitted the BioStar with a display for the three biorhythms as dictated by a popular theory at the time. You'll find both watches on Chrono24 starting at around 670 USD.
The Modern Descendants of Certina Classics
Certina has been producing remakes of classic models in the Heritage collection for a few years now. One example is the DS PH200M Powermatic 80 from 2018. It shares many features with the original from 1967. These include a black dial with white luminous bar indices, plongeur hands, and a diving bezel with a black inlay and white minute markers. Even its Hesalite crystal is historically accurate.
As for differences, the newer model has a slightly larger case in brushed stainless steel, a red second hand, and of course, a modern ETA caliber. The C07.111 is an automatic movement and also goes by the name "Powermatic 80." It's based on the ETA 2824 and boasts an 80-hour power reserve. You can purchase the DS PH200M Powermatic 80 for about 660 USD on a leather NATO strap and 740 USD on a stainless steel Milanese bracelet.
The Heritage collection also has some interesting options for fans of the first DS watches from the early 1960s. For example, the DS-1 Powermatic 80 Himalaya is modeled after the Certina DS used on the 1960 international expedition that would lead to the first successful ascent of Dhaulagiri, a 26,795-foot (8,167-meter) mountain in the Himalayas. While the modern ETA Powermatic 80 caliber powers this timepiece, its design is nearly identical to that of its historical predecessor.
The DS-1 Powermatic 80 Himalaya is available with a silver dial and stainless steel bracelet or a white dial with a golden minute track, golden hands, and brown leather strap. The latter sells for roughly 580 USD, while the version on a metal bracelet costs around 110 USD more.
Diving Watches and Racing Chronographs
The watches of the Aqua collection are built for life in and around water. Take the DS Action Diver Powermatic 80, for instance. This classic diving watch is water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), has a unidirectional diving bezel, and offers optimal readability under all lighting conditions thanks to a generous coating of luminous material on its hands and indices. What's more, the Powermatic 80 caliber provides this timepiece with an 80-hour power reserve and a date display at 3 o'clock. Certina offers this 43-mm stainless steel watch with a black, blue, or green dial and bezel inlay. You can also choose between a stainless steel bracelet or rubber strap. Prices vary by model and range from 690 to 780 USD. The titanium edition with a gray dial costs slightly more at about 980 USD.
If you're looking for a watch that combines the robustness of a diving watch with the aesthetics of a dress watch, you may enjoy the DS Action Fixed Bezel. Instead of a diving bezel, this model features a stationary bezel in polished stainless steel, which lends it a particularly elegant feel. The inner workings are also different from your average diving watch. Certina equips this watch with the high-precision ETA Precidrive caliber F07.412. This quartz movement is COSC-certified chronometer, meaning it is eight to ten times more precise than conventional quartz movements. The DS Action is available with a black, blue, gray, or silver sunburst dial and demands around 450 USD on a leather strap or stainless steel bracelet. Other variations include titanium timepieces and two-tone models with a rose gold PVD-coated bezel. Two-tone watches change hands for about 440 USD, while the DC Action Fixed Bezel in titanium requires an investment of approximately 560 USD.
Two other interesting Aqua models are the DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 and DS Action Day-Date Powermatic 80. Both get their power from automatic Powermatic calibers. The DS Action GMT can display the time in two time zones at once, and the DC Action Day-Date has a day-date display at 3 o'clock. Plan to spend around 890 USD on the GMT edition and 670 USD on the day-date model.
High-precision chronographs make up a majority of the Sport collection. Models like the DS Podium Chronograph 1/100 sec and DS-2 Chronograph 1/100 sec are able to measure periods of time to within a hundredth of a second. This is thanks to a quartz ETA Precidrive movement. Certina uses different versions of this caliber throughout the collection, including ones with a flyback function, lap timer, or second time zone. The Precidrive movement found in three-hand models is even chronometer certified.
In terms of design, the DS Podium and DS-2 series have very little in common. Podium watches have clear and strong ties to motorsport and were inspired by the dashboard displays found in race cars. On the other hand, DS-2 models transform a classic timepiece from the 1960s into a modern wristwatch.
Both series occupy a similar price range. Prices for Podium or DS-2 watches range from 440 USD for a three-hand timepiece to 960 USD for a chronograph.
The DS Eagle Chronograph stands out within the Sport collection. It has a decidedly modern design with an integrated rubber strap and a case protector that mimics the look of a motorcycle's cooling fins. Furthermore, this watch comes with the automatic ETA chronograph caliber C01.211. This movement is a modified Lemania 5100. It comes with a synthetic escapement and a 45-hour power reserve. Be sure to have around 1,900 USD on hand for this 45.6-mm chronograph.
Certina Urban: Sporty Dress Watches
The Urban collection is perhaps best described as sporty chic. This collection is largely made up of three-hand watches. Most of these men's and women's timepieces use an automatic caliber; however, there are a few models powered by chronometer-certified quartz movements. For example, the DS Caimano is available with the automatic Powermatic 80 caliber or a quartz-powered Precidrive movement. The men's version measures 39 mm in diameter, while the women's watches come with your choice of a 28 or 31 mm case. Depending on the model, you can purchase a DS Caimano for between 320 and 670 USD.
You'll also find several Urban watches with interesting complications. The DS-8 Moon Phase is one such timepiece. Its COSC-certified Precidrive movement gives this watch its date at 3 and moon phase display at 6 o'clock. The 41-mm men's edition is available with a black, gray, or white dial and costs about 550 USD. Certina also offers a 32.5-mm women's version with a mother-of-pearl dial for around 570 USD.
The DS-8 Chronograph Moon Phase boasts multiple complications: a chronograph, a moon phase display, and a date. It also uses an ETA Precidrive caliber. This 41-mm stainless steel watch comes on a leather strap or metal bracelet and sells for some 780 USD. Thanks to its moderately sized 38-mm stainless steel case, the DS First Lady Chronograph Moon Phase makes a fantastic unisex watch. It is available with or without a gold PVD coating and sells for roughly 730 USD.
The History of Certina
Certina's roots stretch all the way back to 1888 when brothers Alfred and Adolf Kurth founded their watch workshop, Kurth Frères S.A., in Grenchen, Switzerland. They initially produced watch movements for other manufacturers. However, the brothers quickly expanded their workshop into a factory and began creating their own timepieces. For example, the company began selling watches under the Grana name in 1906. The term "Grana" comes from the Latin name for Grenchen, "Granacus."
The company acquired the rights to the Certina name in 1939. Five years later, they introduced a water-resistant, shock-absorbing, and anti-magnetic watch known as the Certina Labora. The manufacturer officially adopted "Certina" as its brand name in 1949.
One of the most important milestones in Certina's history is the development of the DS (Double Security) concept. This construction places a rubber ring between the movement and case, resulting in particularly shock-resistant timepieces. Furthermore, a series of seals on the crown provide these watches with improved water resistance. Certina's DS concept has earned the manufacturer a reputation for producing robust sports watches.
In 1983, Certina joined the SMH (Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking Industries Ltd.) – a predecessor of the modern Swatch group. Certina remains part of the Swatch group today and occupies the niche dedicated to affordable yet high-quality sports watches.