closing tag is in template navbar
timefactors watches



TZ-UK Fundraiser
Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: A New Arrival - An Unusual or Unique Certina DS

  1. #1
    Master sweets's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bristol - UK
    Posts
    4,078

    A New Arrival - An Unusual or Unique Certina DS

    Seeing as I have been talking about getting this serviced, I may as well post about it now.

    Two things have drawn me to Certina's DS range.

    Firstly, Peter Roberts' extremely compelling description of an early 1970's tour of the Certina factory. The tour culminated in a theatrical flourish. They strapped a DS to a block that was raised up and then dropped down the entire height of a 6m pole in the middle of Certina's car park, bouncing off another block at the base. Thus demonstrating that the DS movement still functioned perfectly after massive shock had been applied to it.

    The host then offered to repeat the process on any watches that the visitors happened to be wearing. None obliged.

    It is clear that the DS system of suspending the movement in a soft ring to protect it from shock is the origin of the system Peter invented for the Bremont MB range.

    The other is that DS happen to be my initials, and the curiosity of owning a watch with my initials on the dial has always tickled me.
    I have previously bought and restored an early example, but I didn't feel I did myself justice, because I am really a chrono and dive watch kind of person.

    There was nothing for it, I would have to get a proper DS dive watch.
    A Super, if I could. Either the massive volcano case of the 1000m, or the front-loader of the 500m.
    Both models are proper hunks of 1960s/70s dive technology, and attractive in a form-from-function, brutal kind of way.

    Prices seemed quite high, not many examples were surfacing, and the general state of those on offer didn't seem so good. The search was not going well.

    Then I vaguely recalled our own TFB offering a unique-looking DS for sale on SC, and having looked up the post, and done a bit of research, my interest was piqued.

    I approached Alex, to see if he still owned it, and whether it was still for sale. "Yes" and "It could be" came the responses.
    I think he had been a little underwhelmed by the (lack of) response to his sales post, withdrawn it and just kept it in his collection, which still features an admirable selection of DS Supers and Technos versions.

    I had a look at past posts about the watch here on TZ-UK, and high res versions of Alex's photographs.
    It seemed to me that previous posters had done the watch an injustice in considering it a "franken", or a parts bin custom assembly of parts from different watches, and this might well have blighted TFB's sale.

    The closer look had convinced me I was looking at a factory watch, not a franken. The print quality, sharp edges and PVD quality and condition looked totally original.

    I approached Certina themselves, but they stated simply that they do not offer an "extract-from-the-archives" service, and they just referred me to the (recommended) vintagecertinas.ch website in preference to anything more official.

    I have approached Pascal, who runs the site, recently sent him photos at his request, but have got no response yet.
    In the mean time I offered Alex what I thought was a fair price, he agreed and the deal was done.
    I have it now, and here it is.



    So, let's have a look at the features.

    Firstly, it is a black PVD case, with PVD bezel, main case body and crown. The crown is correctly signed with Certina's concentric Cs.



    The central ring is polished SS.

    I have yet to see another case like it. But it looks great.

    This case finishing appears to be the same PVD process that Orfina applied to the pd chronos, something I have a lot more experience of. It is a nitride process that soaks the black into the surface of the steel. In general, this coating does not flake off like Cerakote can, moreover, when it wears it makes sections slightly paler, rather than reverting to a silver metallic substrate. This case exhibits all this type of wear on the corners and exposed edges of case and bezel, and what is more, the wear is commensurate with the age of the case. There is some flaking on the interior of the lugs, seemingly from strap-changing tools or metallic end-links, but I believe this case was PVD from the very start of its life, it is not a steel case that was worn and then coated later on. It is also clear that it has led a very sheltered life, as there is very little damage.

    The bezel has the correct clear acryllic insert with black ground and white numeral font under, and lume triangle at 12, which has yellowed as you would expect.

    The dial is interesting.
    It simply says DS. Not DS-2, or even DS-3. The 2 or 3 has not been erased, as the DS is centred.
    It also says SuperPH1000M.

    This is surely wrong, Certina moved from DS to DS-2 comfortably before they invented this case shape?
    I can see no example anywhere of a DS dial which is a Super, let alone the deeper 1000m versions.

    It has the applied Certina logo, applied rectangular indices, lume filled, and coloured orange indices outside that.
    Both these sets of indices are features only seen on the earliest DS-2 examples, and not on the DS or DS-3 versions.

    So surely this dial is a wrong-un?

    And yet.....

    The dial print is absolutely bob on. The font is totally precise, thin, accurately printed with a hint of serifing, and centred. Even the Swiss Made at the base is perfect, with an absence of the T T either side, as per all the early DS-2 examples. The small orange outer indices are also perfect. The printed white date window is also correct.

    We know from TZ-UK that this watch has been in exactly this state for at least 12 years, when Snogge introduced it to the forum in 2008. Was aftermarket dial printing at this advanced state of quality in 2008? Not that I recall. Most hooky dials back then stuck out like sore thumbs. TBH, most of them still do on vintage pieces.

    How about the lume, on the hands, bezel and indices? Surely that can tell us whether it has been altered, restored or worked on?
    Well, it looks as if it has yellowed evenly across these features, and there is a shrinkage crack on the minute hand, plus slight evidence of crumbling lume scattered all over the dial. All this seems original to me.

    So I tried it under a UV torch. The UV certainly excited a bright glow from everything (even the dust on the dial!), but one that dimmed within a couple of seconds of removing the UV torch. That settled it for me. This is not a relume, only the old stuff's glow decays that quickly, new lume carries on for minutes, at least. It also indicates that these hands match the dial and bezel, despite this design of handset not featuring anywhere else in the Super range.



    The caseback is plain, as to be expected. Inside it is signed 5801302, the earlier caseback reference for this case design. No graining to the caseback, fair enough. There is the circular brushing to the interior, one service mark (LV604 maybe) and the little HF badge for Huguenin Freres, who made the original Certina DS cases.

    The movement is the 28 jewel variant of Certina's 25-651, which is again correct for the orignal series of PH1000m Watches. It is a non-quickset date movement with about a 40hr reserve and 19800 bph. This movement was in use from way before this design concept was first made, until they moved onto the DS-3 versions. As Certina did not use individual watch serial numbers, there is nothing more to learnt form the movement.

    How about timeline? There were DS PH200M dive watches being produced from 1967, according to vintagecertinas.com. These were not designated DS-2, and this watch is the one that has been recently re-issued.

    The DS-2 range (as a whole) was introduced in 1968, along with PH200m and Super PH500m versions from the start.

    The Volcano-cased DS-2 Super PH 1000M emerged in 1970, with this movement, and this case reference.

    Both were abandoned for newer models in 1976, with reviaed movements and case references.
    (all info from vintagecertinas.ch)



    It seems to me there might be room for a PVD prototype here, from the late 1960s on to the mid 1970s. This watch has the right early movement, dial design and case reference.
    The hands are DS hands, from one of the DS-2 PH200m from the same period.
    The PVD is slight an anachronism, Certina do not seem to have offered a coated watch at all until the grey Quattro watches of the 1980s, but the black Porsche Design chronos were released in 1972, so the technology was available.

    So, is it a prototype?

    In watch collecting, prototype is one of those terms that immediately sets alarm bells ringing.
    It is a term often used by dodgy sellers to describe all manner of franken rubbish that doesn't quite match the range it was clearly intended to mimic.

    I do not think this falls into that category, it has so many deliberate differences. If this example was assembled to raise the price, why use the "wrong" hands when original are still available? Why print DS on the dial if it is a DS-2? Why PVD a case that is in perfectly good condition? All these items cost a lot to do, and raise doubt rather than value, don't they?

    Of course, it is possible that this is simple a customisation of a DS, done for a particular person that wanted their watch to be exactly their specification. Someone willing to pay whatever is needed to get what they want. The only thing that mitiagtes against this is the dial print. Why make a DS dial from a DS-2 one? That seems a very strange preference

    My conclusion? The lume match and the perfect dial print indicate to me that this is a factory watch, so I think it's a prototype.
    Possibly for the military (they like things in black, apparently it's stealthy), more likely for something much more humdrum like a trade show. So perhaps the use of DS (rather thn DS-2) was deliberate, a way to differentiate it from a production model. It's about the only explanation I can offer for the difference.

    But it seems that whoever it was made for was not impressed. So it never made it into production, and this unique piece is left, on its own.

    Almost regardless of its origin, I have really bonded with this very quirky old lump. I need to get it serviced straight away, the time setting doesn't really work and I do not want all that loose lume working its way into the movement. But I am keeping it. It has my initials on the dial after all..........


  2. #2
    Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Yorkshireman at heart
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    2
    Super write up Dave...& love the watch!

  3. #3
    Master Tetlee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Somerset
    Posts
    1,854
    Interesting research and read, whatever it is I know one thing for certain, that's one super cool looking watch!

  4. #4
    Fantastic post. In my not so expert opinion, I think it is a genuine original example and the dial is original too.
    I have a couple of these old Certians and a Technos but not a PVD one. I am not sure if I have seen a similar one before.
    Last edited by RAJEN; 7th February 2020 at 13:28.

  5. #5
    Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Yorkshireman at heart
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    2
    There's a decent thickness to these, & check out that taper!


  6. #6
    Unusual or unique - can't help there, but it is a lovely thing.

    I'm no expert on Certina (or much else) but the 25-651 movement in my DS PH200M does have a 6 digit number clearly engraved on it - I don't know whether or not this is a movement serial number.

    Nice write up btw.

  7. #7
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    London
    Posts
    3,213
    I love these especially with the sword hands
    I must add one to the collection one day
    I have even been looking at the Helson to scratch the itch whilst the right one comes up.
    Thanks for taking the time to do the write up

  8. #8
    Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Stockton, Teesside, UK
    Posts
    1,082
    If you like the idea of a watch with your initials on, Certina still make 'DS' models, though of course entirely different in all respects to yours - I've just bought one with 'DS' on both the dial and on the end of the crown. Unfortunately, my initials aren't anything like DS!

  9. #9
    Nice write up and history!

  10. #10
    Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Yorkshireman at heart
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    I love these especially with the sword hands
    I must add one to the collection one day
    I have even been looking at the Helson to scratch the itch whilst the right one comes up.
    Thanks for taking the time to do the write up
    There's a set on eBay...only £750

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Certina-D...IAAOSwI-heLtzI

  11. #11
    Master sweets's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bristol - UK
    Posts
    4,078
    Thanks for the comments gents, it certainly has great character, and even though it is quite a hunk of watch, the case design is actually very subtle in some ways, with multiple chamfers on a compound curve for the main body, tapered lugs patially shrouded by the polished ring, and the crown screwing in so that it is almost invisible from above.
    They really thought about this.
    They also thought about the other stuff too. The monster thick crystal was made by laminating together different sized biscuits of crystal, one of which holds captive a steel washer - clearly visible in the last photo as a black ring above the dial stretching from 7 to 2 o-clock. The crystal is held down in situ by a ring that screws down on the front of the case and presses down on this captive washer. It is complicated, but incredibly well engineered, I can think of no other crystal holding mechanism like it.
    I have just checked again, no movement serial is present.
    And nice as the sword ones are, I am ot going to change the hands - definitely not for £750.

    Dave

  12. #12
    Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    London
    Posts
    4,034
    That is gorgeous! Well done to you for tracking it down and completing a deal after it had sunk into the depths of SC.
    Great write up too.
    Now Iím going to have start looking for a Certina...

  13. #13
    Grand Master JasonM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Cambridgeshire
    Posts
    13,244
    Fabulous watch and write up, I love my regular DS2. I agree with your conclusions, looks original.
    Interesting you say about no serial numbers, mine has a very faint number on the outside edge of the caseback, seven digits, although faint, probably polished away, it looks very well done so I assumed factory done.


    Here is Roger Rs great photo of the crazy crystal
    Last edited by JasonM; 8th February 2020 at 12:00.
    Cheers..
    Jase

  14. #14
    Can't recall having seen the PVD before. I have the Technos SkyDiver with the orange dial and have read alot about the different variants.

    I'm currently looking to service mine so I would be interested to see what Pascal replies. I recently dropped Rich Askham an email but haven't heard back in quite a while.

  15. #15
    Master sweets's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bristol - UK
    Posts
    4,078
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonM View Post
    Fabulous watch and write up, I love my regular DS2. I agree with your conclusions, looks original.
    Interesting you say about no serial numbers, mine has a very faint number on the outside edge of the caseback, seven digits, although faint, probably polished away, it looks very well done so I assumed factory done.
    Love that yellow-dialled version, very nice. I have had a look at the caseback too, nothing, rien, nada. There is plenty of wear there, so anything that was faintly applied might have gone, but if it has, it left no trace whatsoever on mine.

    Believe me, I have searched far and wide for another PVD example to help establish the case for this one's originality, but I can find none that aren't pictures of this actual watch.

    D

  16. #16
    Master bobbee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Cossethay, England
    Posts
    7,081
    Blog Entries
    3
    A brilliant watch and write up Dave.
    It certainly looks like the real McCoy to me, and if I'm not mistaken, is the dial logo also PVD coated?
    This to me would indicate this is original, not something a customiser would go so far as to do.

  17. #17
    Master sweets's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bristol - UK
    Posts
    4,078
    Quote Originally Posted by bobbee View Post
    and if I'm not mistaken, is the dial logo also PVD coated?
    Interesting point, not one that I had focussed on.
    The Certina badge on the dial is indeed a dull grey, with the Certina concentric C's in a gloss black print over the top.
    However, I think this is true for a few of the models in this range, as both of the first 2 examples pictured on the vintagecertinas site are the same, so I do not think this is a unique detail. Jason's above also seems to have the same badge.

    D

  18. #18
    Love it, very special. Really does look legit. Makes sense for it to have no reference number to me if it is a prototype. Pull a case back off the line before they were engraved. Probably shouldn't have left Certina HQ, brilliant.

  19. #19
    Grand Master JasonM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Cambridgeshire
    Posts
    13,244
    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    Interesting point, not one that I had focussed on.
    The Certina badge on the dial is indeed a dull grey, with the Certina concentric C's in a gloss black print over the top.
    However, I think this is true for a few of the models in this range, as both of the first 2 examples pictured on the vintagecertinas site are the same, so I do not think this is a unique detail. Jason's above also seems to have the same badge.

    D
    Yes, my logo and yours are the same.
    Cheers..
    Jase

  20. #20
    Master bobbee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Cossethay, England
    Posts
    7,081
    Blog Entries
    3
    Ah, that's a logo no-go then...

    At least it conforms to other examples of the 'super PH' range.
    Last edited by bobbee; 10th February 2020 at 09:01.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Do Not Sell My Personal Information