When the precursor to the Swatch Group was being organized in the late 1980s, the conglomerate made the decision to withhold certain brands from the U.S. market in order to concentrate on their heavy hitters in North America, such as Omega and Longines. Certina was among the brands that was reserved for the local European markets (and did quite well there). Finally, after that lengthy hiatus, the brand is returning to the U.S. via the Hodinkee Shop — and this is particularly good news for fans of affordable watchmaking.
Certina's wares, such as their DS series of divers, GMTs and even an automatic chronograph, make robust, serious tool watches available to the masses, many around the $1,000 mark. This move truly changes the landscape of affordable watches available from large Swiss brands for the American buyer.
Previously only available in Europe, the Certina DS PH200M, for example, is a handsome, vintage-inspired diver with 200m of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, gilt accents, and the buyer's choice of blue or black dial and different strap variations. Recalling an original model from 1968, it gives the watch world access to vintage Omega Seamaster 300 vibes for under $1,000 — a compelling value proposition considering its inclusion of the ETA Powermatic 80.611 automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve.
Also notable is a GMT with a feature one typically only finds from the likes of brands such as Rolex: a local jumping hour, meaning you can easily update the local hour when you travel. The DS Action GMT is powered by the Swatch Group's Powermatic 80 caliber with second time zone, which includes the function, making the Action GMT one of just a handful of affordable watches that can compete with something like the GMT Master II. (Amazing, it's a sub-$1,000 watch, as well.)