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The 7 Best Certina Watches - A Buyers Guide

Posted on November 10 2020

Certina Watches Buyers Guide

 

Certina is a Swiss watch brand based in the historic watchmaking city of Le Locle. Often described as an entry-level luxury brand, the company has a history dating back to the late 1800s. They have been at the forefront of watch innovations, creating a number of world firsts.

Now owned by Swatch Group, Certina produces a line of watches that are built around the core concept of Double Security - a collection of features that ensure the robustness of each watch.

I’d like to take you through a history of the company, explaining where they fit into the watch trade, and then present you with the seven best watches that the brand currently offers. Let’s start with the company’s roots.

The History of Certina Watches


Like most Swiss watchmaking companies, Certina started out as a small family-owned business. Created by the brothers Adolf and Alfred Kurth, the new company employed three people and made their own watch movements in an annexe attached to the family home.

This small team took a few years to start producing their own complete watches but began to expand as they did. By the early 1900s they were making their own watches under the brand name Grana and by 1938 - the companies 50th anniversary - they had 250 employees.

By then they had already begun using the name Certina. A little like Rolex, they chose this brand name because it wasn’t limited to a particular language. Although inspired by the Latin word for ‘sure’, it was a name chosen to target an international audience. In 1939 the name was registered and a decade later became the only name the company used.

 



By the 1950s Certina were able to produce 1000 watches a day and towards the end of the decade created the DS concept. This idea - Double Security - involved creating very shock-resistant automatic watches that were also water-resistant. It’s an idea that you’ll see referenced a lot in the company's current watches.

It’s probably best to slot the turtle in here. Nearly all Certina timepieces have a turtle on them - usually on the case back. This distinctive image references the Double Security, the idea being that the turtle shell symbolises robustness and longevity, as well as an association with the sea.
Certina TurtleThe quartz crisis had an impact on Certina that, among other factors, lead to a restructuring of the business and changes in ownership. I’ll not go into the details, but Certina ceased to make their own movements in the 1970s and relocated to Biel.

The company later came under the same management as Tissot and Mido, ultimately becoming a part of the Swatch Group. This puts the brand under the same ownership as Blancpain, Omega, Hamilton and others.

Where are Certina Watches Made?


The previous paragraph answers the question. All Certina watches carry the Swiss-Made label. They are currently based in Le Locle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Certina watches are produced locally although, as noted above, they no longer produce their own calibres.

As standard, Certina watches use Swiss-made ETA movements. That’s to be expected as ETA in also owned by Swatch Group - Certina’s owners.

Are Certina Watches Good Quality?


Let’s take it back a step.

Certina started as a company that produced its own watch movements. It created the first digital watch in 1936, introduced the DS shock protection innovations in the 1950s and later invented a watch that could display human biorhythms.

They’re a brand that has, not only a long history, but a history of innovation. They’re now a part of a group of watch manufacturers that includes some of the biggest and most respected names in Swiss watchmaking.

Additionally, they use highly regarded Swiss-made movements. These ETA movements are also used by everyone from Panerai and Breitling to Sinn and Tissot.

Although not a luxury brand like Panerai and Breitling, Certina is a high-quality brand that provides an introduction to well made Swiss watches. I’d put them alongside other mid-range Swiss brands like Tissot and Hamilton.

Additionally, as I mentioned here, Certina has partnered with Sea Turtle Conservancy to help in the preservation of this creature that has a long association with the brand.

The 7 Best Certina Watches

 

Certina DS Action Diver Watch

 

The DS Action Diver is a watch I’ve featured before. It’s an affordable diver that probably showcases the brand at its best and is central to their Aqua collection.

There’s a number of colour variations, with both quartz and automatic models. This green variant with an automatic movement is my favourite. It’s quite bold, but the colouring works well on what is quite a sporty model. I like the additional red accents too.

This watch ticks a couple of boxes for me. The most obvious is the aesthetic appeal. It’s a mid-sized diver’s watch that would make a good everyday wear. It’s certainly adaptable enough to be worn to the office.

It is also a legit diver’s watch. It has 300M water resistance, and importantly, it is tested to ISO 6425 standards. That means that it is certified as a functional dive watch.

Finally, it is Swiss-made and has a Powermatic 80 automatic movement. Essentially, that means the watch has a power reserve of 80 hours. The sum of these parts is a stylish watch, with very good specs and a sold brand back story.

It’s my first choice of the current Certina range.

Certina DS Action Diver C032.407.11.091.00

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

Certina DS PH200M Watch

 

If you’ve read other posts on this blog you’ll know that I have a soft spot for vintage-styled divers and brands reissuing models from their archives. The PH200M is a case of Certina mining their own back catalogue for inspiration.

This watch is an updated reproduction of a model that the brand originally released in the 1960s. They’ve gone all-in with the release - presenting the watch in a divers box, giving the impression of a real functional tool.

One of the updates that they did make to this reissue is the movement. Again, it’s the Powermatic 80, a popular movement for mid-range Swiss automatics. But the updates aren’t intrusive. Where it counts, Certina has gone for the authentic. The glass, for example, is domed hesalite crystal. But in a nice touch, they’ve added a protective coating.

I really enjoy this vintage style of watch. The case without crown guards reinforces the vintage design, as do the dial markers and hands. But at just under 43mm it’s sized for modern tastes and comes with two straps - a Nato and a leather with quick release pins.

Certina DS PH200M C036.407.16.050.00

  • 42.8mm Diameter
  • 12.9mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Hesalite Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

Certina DS Action Powermatic 80 Watch

 

This another watch from the Aqua collection, and another with the Powermatic 80 movement. Although from the same collection as the Action Diver, this is less of an outright diver’s watch. To compare Certina to Omega - this is the Aqua Terra and the Action Diver would take the place of the Seamaster.

It’s a refined and elegant design. A little sporty, but certainly aiming to be less so than the previous two watches. At 41mm it’s a little smaller than them, and at 12mm it’s a little slimmer. Overall, that makes for a watch that is more dressy and the addition of both the day and the date confirms this.

In keeping with the simpler design, the colours are quite basic. A stainless steel case and bracelet and a black dial. It’s a classic combination. Certina has added a touch of colour with orange on the second hand and dial text. It’s just enough to suggest a sporty element, without compromising on the elegance.

Certina DS Action Powermatic 80 C032.430.11.051.00

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

Certina DS-1 Powermatic Watch

 

The DS-1 from the Urban collection is a dress watch. There are no sporting elements here and no attempt to have a foot in each camp like the last model. This is, however, another design inspired by the Certina back catalogue.

It’s the smallest of the watches featured so far. At 40mm it’s not small, but it is more modestly sized and has a slimmer profile than the others. Unsurprisingly, it uses the same automatic movement as the previous models, and despite the classic styling, does boast 100M water resistance.

Modelled on the first DS concept pieces from 1960, this has a distinct vintage-styling. It’s a classic and reasonably common look. But I really like it. It’s pared down to the essentials. Simple hands, indices and a neat date window. No additional colouring, numerals or chapter ring. Just a little text on the dial.

Turning the watch around you get to see the movement, with the signed rotor, through the exhibition back. But other than that, everything is utilitarian. It’s quite a contrast from the Action Diver, but a great alternative.

Certina DS-1 Powermatic C029.807.11.031.00

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Certina DS Podium Watch

 

The DS Podium is the first quartz watch that I’d like to highlight. It’s a mid-sized slightly rugged looking piece from the Sport collection. It’s quite a bit cheaper than some of the others, so could make a good entry point into the brand.

Although from the Sport range, the watch looks to have a military aesthetic. The large numbers and date, combined with a black dial and dark leather strap reinforce this.

Although quartz, it does contain some of the other specs I’d expect. There are the obligatory 100M water resistance and a sapphire crystal, and because it doesn’t have a display back, you get to see the Turtle motif on the case back.

It’s not as eye-catching as some of the other watches featured but it is definitely a model to consider if you’re shopping on a budget.

Certina DS Podium C034.451.16.057.00

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 9.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Certina DS-1 Big Date Watch

 

The DS-1 Big Date is a dress watch more in the style of an Orient Bambino. It has a simple round case and a lovely gradient dial. The deep blue and black colouring looks sophisticated and the plain leather strap adds to the effect.

The dial is curved and it has long hands and neat indices - the overall impression is of a 1960s design. Again, it has the Swiss automatic movement and a sapphire crystal.

Of course, the most prominent feature is the large date window. It’s a little unusual, but gives the watch it’s own character. Importantly, it doesn’t overwhelm the dial and placing it at 6 o’clock means it doesn’t unbalance the symmetry of the dial.

This is a nice vintage-inspired dress watch.

Certina DS-1 Big Date C029.426.16.041.00


  • 41mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Certina DS 2 Precidrive Watch

 

The final piece that I’d like to highlight is a more straightforward modern quartz model. It’s an attractive watch that comes in a couple of variations, including this black version.

It’s slim and 40mm wide - with a quartz movement and sapphire crystal. So the watch is lightweight in comparison to the Certina divers and isn’t built for tough use. Having said that, it does benefit from the tough glass and there is still 100M water resistance.

The Precidrive in the name refers to its chronometer grade quartz movement. This movement is nearly 10 times more precise than a normal quartz movement and demonstrates the quality of Certina’s range.

Certina DS 2 Precidrive C024.410.11.051.20

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 9.3mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Conclusion


Certina is an entry-level Swiss watch brand. They are based in the historic watchmaking city of Le Locle and are now owned by Swatch Group. I’d say that they are a mid-range brand like Tissot and Hamilton.

The company has been quite innovative since its founding in the late 1800s. They have created a number of world firsts, including the first digital watch.

The watches above showcase my favourites from the brand and demonstrate the broad range of watch styles that they produce. My first choice would be a divers watch - they’re strong in this area - but some of the dress models, particularly the DS-1, are great watches too.

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