“Is this Certina the best value-for-money watch currently on sale?”
I don’t know about it being the best pound-for-pound timepiece on sale but if we’re talking within the Swatch Group? I reckon it’s close to a “Heck yaaas!” It’s pretty easy to see why just from reading the brochure, if I’m honest. For a grand total of RM3,580, you’re getting a watch with a sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating on both sides), an exhibition caseback, a separate 24-hour display within the inner bezel and 200 metres of water resistance. Oh, and Swatch Group’s famed Powermatic 80 calibre.
For those who are unfamiliar with said movement, the Powermatic 80 has an impressive power reserve figure of, yeah you guessed it, 80 hours. The 23-jeweled movement beats at a rate of 3 Hz and is based on the ETA Calibre C07.111 (itself a variation of the ETA 2824-2). Aside from powering a number of Certina models, the Powermatic 80 is also found in several other Tissot and Mido pieces. Also, I should also mention that there are three variants of the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80. Oddly enough, the bracelet version is a tad more affordable at RM3,540.
Yeah, the orange/black variant with the leather strap and the green/black model with a fabric strap are actually slightly costlier. A butterfly clasp with twin-push buttons accompany all three strap choices.
“So, initial impressions?”
It’s mostly good but… There’s one major boo-boo if you have twig wrists like me. See, the 43.1 mm case is rather large to begin with and while the lugs are quite short, it doesn’t make it any less of a chunky watch. To be honest, the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 has been on my hit list for some time. It represents incredible value and I reckon it’s the perfect one watch to bring on a trip abroad. It ticks all the right boxes in terms of specifications and being a Certina, it’s not often you’d spot one in the wild in Malaysia.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t sit right on my wrist. Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s still a fantastic watch for the money and if your wrists were marginally larger than mine (6 inches on the dot, FYI), I’d highly recommend it. If you’re a bit OCD when it comes to colour schemes, there’s a bit of bad news as well. The date wheel features a positive display layout – that is to say black numbering on a light background. Normally, this would work if the overall dial colour matched but it’s the same wheel display regardless of variant.
So let’s say you’re eyeing the green version, right? You’re going to have to put up with a mostly black-green dial that is disrupted by a date window that looks quite out of place. Another negative for me is the size of the date display itself. It’s pretty darn small in the context of this watch and as a result, the proportions do look a tad distorted. Get rid of that display – as useful as it is – and you’ll be getting a much more cohesive dial, I reckon.
“Am I being pedantic?”
Perhaps so but only because I feel for this watch! I really, really wanted it to work. Should it have done so, you’ll be hearing about this from an owner’s perspective. Not only is this piece fantastic value, I reckon most of Certina’s lineup represents a lot of bang for your buck. Which kinda’ brings me to the brand as a whole. It is rather unfortunate that the awareness surrounding Certina isn’t as high as it should be. You wouldn’t expect less from a brand that was established in 1888, frankly. Fans of motorsports will be able to recall plenty of Certina branding, though.
In the early 2000s, Certina was a timekeeping partner of rallying legend Colin McRae and Petter Solberg. In 2005, the brand was also on the livery donning the cars of the Sauber Petronas Formula 1 team. Fast forward a decade or so later and Certina is the official partner of the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team (now the Citroën Total World Rally Team).
Another interesting slice of Certina’s history lies in the Certina Biostar. In 1971, Certina introduced the world’s first (and possibly only) timepiece that allowed the wearer to keep track of his/her biorhythm. A bio-what?
Image source – revolution.watch
The concept of biorhythm basically revolves around the belief that an individual’s life is affected by several biological cycles. Now, because these cycles were deemed quantifiable, practitioners of the day were able to calculate the cycles – which are composed of the physical, emotional and mental cycles – and predict how one’s life would play out. This movement, however, died out relatively quickly.
“Gosh! Really, Certina? Really?!”
Man, sometimes I look back on stories like these and wonder to myself, “Wow, we have not progressed much.” However, the upside to that phase was the aforementioned Biostar. With the watch adjusted to the wearer’s date of birth, it would then display the biorhythmic information of the three cycles. The information is read via three coloured discs located below the 12 o’clock mark. So, if you’re having it tough, show your boss that you are screwed-up because the cycles aren’t just aligning up.
“It’s not my day, man. I don’t know what’s happening but you know, I just don’t… feel it.”
Yeah, if only we could get away with material like that nowadays.
“So, in conclusion… This is a no go?”
Well, I’m not going to write it off just because I don’t have the wrist size to pull it off. Let me just put it out there that unless you have pretty meaty wrists, this watch is gonna’ feel rather chunky and heavy when you put it on. However, the khaki strap is relatively comfortable and soft right out of the box so that’s a plus there. Again, if you’re looking for a no-nonsense tool watch with a second timezone display, lots of power reserve and the engineering (and heritage) backing of a long-standing brand, you’d be hard-pressed to come across anything better.