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Certina's Innovative DS+ Watch Offers Endless Customisation

Posted on March 09 2023

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Certina DS+ Watch Review

If you're a big fan of watches then you'll recognise this problem.

You need a watch for each occasion. As a connoisseur of horology (I prefer the term watch geek) you know that different watch styles work better in different environments.

That makes sense right?

A tough dive watch for when you're at the beach. A smart dress watch for that job interview. A Timex Snoopy watch when you're out with the kids.

And that leads to the second problem. Either a one of money or the better problem of too many watches piling up on your bedside table.

Step in Certina with a solution.

A Swiss-made automatic watch that can be customised quickly and without tools.

Going to the beach? Place the watch head in a diver's case. Off somewhere formal? No problem, switch the case for a classic style and swap out the bracelet for a conservative leather strap.

That's got to be worth further investigation.

Certina DS+ Watch Review

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport C041.407.19.051.00

  • 43 & 41mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • ETA Powermatic 80.611 Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance
  • RRP - £895

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport Review

The Certina DS+ landed on my desk a few weeks after Enoksen's Fly watch. For two very different watches, there was a striking commonality. They're both affordable Swiss-made automatics that approach a similar challenge - but from a different angle.
The assumption the brands make is simple - we need more than one timepiece.

Certina DS+ Watch Review

Enoksen tackled this problem by building the brand around its five-a-life principle. Essentially, five watches will give you all the versatility that you need. Enoksen, therefore, makes five styles of watch. A diver, an adventure or field watch, a chronograph, an aviator and a dress watch.
Certina takes a different approach. Its innovation is to create one watch that can be easily modified. By being able to change the size, style and functionality, that watch can perform the role of multiple watches.
And that's the USP of the new DS+ release. You're not buying a single watch. In its kit form you're buying a couple of watches. There's the option to then transform it into further watches by buying additional cases and straps. Assuming that more options become available, the customisation options become theoretically endless.

Certina DS+ Watch Review
And by customisation, I don't mean a simple change of colour. There's more to it than that. The Certina DS+ offers cases that transform the base watch into a diver's model for example. Or a sports watch. Or a dress watch etc.
For watch geeks, there's something really compelling about being able to build a watch collection around a single watch. Yes, there are limitations to what can be achieved, but the idea itself is exciting.
Let's explain the basics.
The core of the DS+ is the Watch Head. It's the module with the movement and glass. Certina offers three Watch Heads - black, white and blue.
The Watch Head can slip into one of six cases. Among others, these include a diver's case with a rotating bezel, a cushion case and a two-tone design.
There's then a choice of a bracelet or a selection of straps.
This makes for quite a few combinations, but Certina simplifies this by providing kits with a pair of cases - Aqua & Sport, Sport & Urban and Urban & Heritage. There's also the option to create a custom watch or buy individual parts through a configuration tool on its website.
I'm making the presumption that these options will increase over time making the DS+ even more versatile than its current iteration.

Certina DS+ Watch Review
So how does that all work in practice?
I have the Kit Aqua & Sport in front of me. That offers a black dial Watch Head and the choice of a diver's or sports case. Each of these can be paired with a stainless steel bracelet or a canvas strap.
It feels like I have two watches.
And my first impression is that I have two very good quality Swiss watches, with the different case sizes and styles giving two distinct appearances. Let's take a closer look at the details.

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport Watch in Detail

In terms of a review, this Certina DS+ Kit has me floundering. It's spoilt my template. Usually, I begin with an overview of the watch's aesthetics, then the details and, as an afterthought, finish with a bit about the packaging. The DS+, with its interchangeable case, needs a new approach. So let's begin with the packaging, which is anything but an afterthought.

The Kit Aqua and Sport looks like, well, a kit. The three-part construction of the watch is evident when you open the case - each component is on display. There's a watch head, two cases and a pull-out draw that holds the three-row stainless steel bracelet and canvas strap.
Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport Display Box

Like most well-thought-out watch packaging, the DS+ Kit sits comfortably between a role as storage and as a watch display. It's attractive with each part mounted separately and a felt pouch that holds the completed watch. Taking pride of place is the watch head, in this kit, I have the black variant.
Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport

Given that the watch head has to integrate with multiple cases and straps, the watch head and dial are understandably conservative. The watch head is slim and has a diameter of 37.4mm and is equipped with a black sunray dial. The utilitarian silver lume-filled indexes are complimented by matching hands. There's a small silver logo and model name on the dial and additional text in white. It's all tasteful, functional and most importantly, versatile.

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport Watch Review

In a nice touch, the date window is repositioned to 6 o'clock, which helps maintain the dial's symmetry. If you're familiar with Certina - an entry-level Swiss watchmaker - you're probably already a fan of the 6 o'clock date window from the DS-1 Big Date model.

Although the watch head looks and feels like a partial watch, the essentials are all here. It's a complete watch - in terms of functionality - with a sapphire crystal, a screw-down crown and 200M of water resistance. Remember, the DS stands for Double Security, meaning these watches are very shock-resistant and were built to be robust.

Certina DS+ Review

Turning the watch over reveals an exhibition case back that displays the ETA Swiss-made Powermatic 80 automatic movement. Featuring a Nivachron balance spring (protecting against magnetism) the movement boasts an 80hr power reserve.

As both Certina and ETA are owned by Swatch Group, you may have seen this movement used by other Swiss watch brands including Mido, Rado, Tissot and Hamilton.

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport

Now comes the fun bit. Picking a case for the watch and fitting it to the watch head.

You know what?

It was surprisingly easy. There was no need for tools or watchmaking knowledge. The two cases have an additional crown - it looks like a helium release valve - and it's simply a case of unscrewing this and doing the same with the watch head's crown. Then slip the watch head into place and tighten the two crowns. There's no confusion as the watch head clicks into place and it is obvious when it's installed correctly.

The Aqua case is typical of the diver's style and features a unidirectional rotating bezel with an aluminium insert and a second crown at 8 o'clock. At 43mm wide it's at the top of my comfort zone, but the short lugs ensure that it doesn't wear too big.

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport Review

Of the two case options, the 41mm Sports variant was my preferred choice. It's spartan, angular and slightly more distinctive than the Aqua design. The extended lugs remind me of a skin-diver look and it has a strong retro feel. The six exposed screws also add an industrial aesthetic that really appealed to me, particularly when paired with the black and grey fabric strap (it's apparently made from tide ocean material).

Like the case, both the strap and bracelet were straightforward to attach with the quick-release feature now being a must-have for me. The stainless steel bracelet is substantial and has a three-row construction and a folding clasp. There are no curved end links as this strap was designed to work with multiple watches, meaning it's fine to use with other DS+ cases.

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport Review

Both these iterations of this watch work for me, although the distinctive styling of the Sports case was more to my taste and the high-quality canvas strap helped keep the size of the watch on point for my slim wrists.

Certina DS+ Kit Aqua & Sport


Certina is renowned as an affordable Swiss watchmaker and as such falls outside of what we'd normally think of as a luxury brand. But you might argue that one measurement of luxury is the ability to personalise a product. To a degree, that's what Certina is offering with the DS+.

A watch that you can modify to your own tastes or whims.

Built around a robust and reliable base watch, the DS+ offers one timepiece that can excel in many environments. It has great workmanship, a well-regarded automatic movement and 200M of water resistance.

Those specs provide the core from which you can endlessly play with style changes. I've got my fingers crossed that Certina offers further updates for this exciting new concept.

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