Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M

//Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M

Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M

Certina 4.jpg?ixlib=rails 1.1 hands-on: the certina ds ph200m Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M Certina 4

Are you tired of vintage-inspired dive watches yet? Me neither. In fact, I can’t get enough of them, and Baselworld is the best place to sate the hunger. This year was no exception, with retro-tastic divers from Rado, Longines, Bulova, Doxa and, of course, Tudor. But every year, there’s one piece that surprises me and catches my fancy. Last year it was the Rado Captain Cook, and this year, I became smitten with the Certina DS PH200M.

hands-on: the certina ds ph200m Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M Certina 1

Vintage-inspired done right.

You likely haven’t read anything about Certina on HODINKEE, except in the old “Bring A Loupe” series. That’s because Certina, a Swatch Group brand, doesn’t sell watches in our home base, the United States. So we generally aren’t too focused on what the brand is doing. But I bumped into Danish watch and style impresario Kristian Haagen on the show floor last week and he said, “You must go see the new Certina dive watch!” So I talked my way into an impromptu appointment, my last of the show, and it was well worth it. 

Certina has a long history of building extremely competent and, yes, legendary, diving watches. Its watches were on the wrists of U.S. Navy divers during the SEALAB II project, selected by the joint NASA/Department of the Interior Tektite II program, and also issued to divers from the Royal Australian Navy. But somewhere along the way, during the Quartz Crisis and the subsequent Swatch Group shuffle, Certina didn’t make the cut for American shores.

hands-on: the certina ds ph200m Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M Tektite I exterior

Tektite II put a team of aquanauts in a habitat on the ocean floor in 1970, wearing Certina watches.

The DS PH200M is a reissue of a 1967 Certina, almost entirely faithful to the original, with the exception of a few modernizations. Still present are the lovely sword hands, cross-hair dial, and fully-hashed bezel with aluminum insert. Most surprisingly, Certina also fitted this watch with a “Hesalite” (acrylic) crystal, a rarity on modern watches besides Omega’s Speedmaster Professional. Most brands have opted for box-shaped sapphire crystals for their re-issue watches, mainly for their scratch resistance. And while these are, by and large, excellent, there’s a certain warmth to acrylic that sapphire can’t touch. Certina adds a coating of 3M Scotchgard to the outer surface to provide some measure of scratch resistance, but if you wore this watch for any length of time, I suspect you’d become pretty familiar with a tube of Polywatch in short order.

hands-on: the certina ds ph200m Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M Photo Mar 24 11 36 15 AM

A cutaway model showing the components of the Double Security (DS) system.

To hold this crystal in place, Certina utilizes the “Double Security” system that puts the “DS” in the name. This is a combination of a threaded ring and gaskets to hold the crystal tight, a method that kept the original immune to the failures of helium overpressure that plagued other watches during the SEALAB saturation dives. This DS system also helps ensure the water resistance of 20 bar or 200 meters, which is the second half of the watch’s name – “Pression Hydrostatique 200 mètres” – PH200M.

One modern upgrade to the DS PH200M is the use of the Swatch Group’s workhorse Powermatic 80 self-winding movement, a caliber found also in some Swatch stablemate Hamiltons and Tissots. As its name suggests, this movement’s claim to fame is the 80 hours of power reserve it provides, impressive at movements in this price level of watch.

<p>The screw-in crown won’t be needed much with 80 hours of power reserve.</p>
<p>” src=”https://hodinkee.imgix.net/uploads/images/1522065805309-2bznzfedcug-92420cd130c79a4bc894779adf71f1d8/Certina-2.jpg?ixlib=rails-1.1.0&auto=format&ch=Width%2CDPR%2CSave-Data&fit=crop&fm=jpg&q=55&usm=12&w=2000&s=2e0160c047ecf449be963880db84d3ab” /><br /><figcaption>
<p>The screw-in crown won’t be needed much with 80 hours of power reserve.</p>
</figcaption> </figure>
<p> </p>
<figure> <img alt= hands-on: the certina ds ph200m Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200MCertina’s sea turtle logo is engraved on the solid steel caseback.

” src=”https://hodinkee.imgix.net/uploads/images/1522065813842-45c8gktra87-c3da7d0c75726dd3513ed00dca13fd33/Certina-3.jpg?ixlib=rails-1.1.0&auto=format&ch=Width%2CDPR%2CSave-Data&fit=crop&fm=jpg&q=55&usm=12&w=2000&s=158eec65cad36ba1390b55c23be4b582″ />

Certina’s sea turtle logo is engraved on the solid steel caseback.

While the original DS PH200M was around 40mm in diameter, the modern re-issue was upsized to 42.8mm. The retro-grouch in me would have preferred that Certina stuck with the original dimensions, but the watch still wears well. It comes fitted on a vintage-style two-stitch leather strap with quick-release springbars and Certina also gives you a striped nylon NATO-style strap in the Pelican case packaging for wet work.

hands-on: the certina ds ph200m Hands-On: The Certina DS PH200M Certina 5

The upsized DS PH200M still wears well.

So, all the specs and design are well and good but what sealed the deal for me with the DS PH200M is the price: 695 Swiss francs, which, at the time of this writing, is equal to about $735. That’s a lot of watch for the money-a throwback Swiss-made diver from a reputable brand, with good pedigree, impressive specs, and desirable aesthetics for the price of a lot of micro-brand watches? To me, the only question that remains for me about the Certina DS PH200M is: Can we please get this in the USA?

For more, visit Certina online.

By |2018-03-27T22:09:03+00:00March 27th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

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