The new Certina DS-1 Skeleton shows off the latest Powermatic 80 developmentFergus Nash
Although the first of Certina’s DS watches was released in 1959, the past few years have been particularly exciting. Watching the collection evolve from retro-reissues to a completely modular wristwatch, has been fascinating, especially as Certina remain somewhat underrated amongst their Swatch Group relatives. All of those novelties aside, the brand are still capable of making more versatile options too. The new Certina DS-1 Skeleton range is a sophisticated yet casual option, begging to be worn on a daily basis.
Diving right into the dimensions, the Certina DS-1 Skeleton plays things safe with a 40mm diameter case and a lug-to-lug length of 47.3mm. The 13mm thickness is quite chunky for a three-hand watch, and though it does come with an exhibition caseback and 100m of water resistance, it could do with slimming down. These measurements should easily be comfortable on most wrists, while still allowing the dial plenty of room to show itself off.
The style of the case plays into some of that mid-century classicism, however it’s definitely still adapted for modern tastes. The lugs are sharp and slender, with angles the eye can easily follow from both front and side views. The polished steel on the bezel and inner-lug surfaces give it a dressy glow, while the brushing on the outer-lug grounds it with versatility. The profile is especially interesting, as it allows the round shape of the case to almost protrude from the case sides, with the brushed lug finish accentuating the effect.
Many skeleton dials can feel like a bit of an afterthought, with awkward cutouts or rather boring views. The Certina DS-1 Skeleton feels like it has purpose, and isn’t just an excuse to be different from the base model. A surrounding ring of dial remains intact for framing and colour, each given a sunburst finish to bring out more depth and dynamics. The options are a chocolate brown, royal blue and bright silver. Each are contrasted with yellow gold applied details, and the hour markers have been oversized to reach slightly into the skeletonised area.
Not only does the yellow gold work brilliantly with the dial colours, but it also echoes some of the movement’s components, highlighting them against the dark grey plates. The balance can be seen beating away at 12 o’clock, while subtler elements such as the mainspring barrel are visible in differing tones of grey. That’s not to say the darker parts aren’t decorated, complete with their own radiant brushing and perlage finishes. It’s a captivating view for any fan of mechanics, and helps take away the urge to flip your watch over to stare through a caseback.
The ETA Powermatic 80.631 is the latest openworked variation of the popular Powermatic 80 movement, specifically designed for the Certina DS-1 Skeleton. The caseback view isn’t as exciting as the dial side, with less decoration excluding the customised winding rotor, but it’s still worth viewing. The 80-hour power reserve is achieved with an upgraded mainspring rather than the slowing down of the beat rate, which is down to 3 Hz. The movement also boasts a Nivachron balance spring, improving reliability, accuracy, and providing some anti-magnetic properties.
Each of the Certina DS-1 Skeleton’s references is fitted with a different strap to suit its personality. The brown dial version is completed with a brown leather strap, while the other two have steel bracelets. The blue dial is the sportiest of the three, with a five-link bracelet, and the silver dial looks quite refined with its Milanese mesh strap. Quick-release spring bars are fitted to the leather and mesh straps, while the five-link bracelet just uses traditional spring bars. If you want to experiment with aftermarket options, you have pretty much infinite variety thanks to the 20mm lug width.
I think that a lot of watch enthusiasts may dismiss the Certina DS-1 Skeleton’s design as being generic, however I think the small details really make it stand out in an oversaturated genre. The dial colours, the use of yellow gold instead of rose gold, and the jumbo indices are features you won’t find in many other casual-dress skeleton watches, especially not with a swimmable water resistance. Aesthetics aside, it’s also great value for money. Paying under CHF 1,000 for a customised Swiss movement from a recognised brand actually feels like a bit of a bargain in today’s world of inflated prices, which would make the purchase feel that little bit more special.
Certina DS-1 Skeleton pricing and availability
The Certina DS-1 Skeleton is now available from Certina’s website and authorised retailers. Price: CHF 920 (brown dial), CHF 960 (blue, silver)
|Case Dimensions||40mm (D) x 13mm (T) x 47.3mm (LTL)|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||100 metres|
|Dial||Brown, blue or silver|
|Strap||Leather strap, steel mesh bracelet or five-link steel bracelet|
|Movement||ETA Powermatic 80.631, automatic, Nivachron balance|
|Power Reserve||80 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds|
|Price||CHF 920 (brown dial)
CHF 960 (blue, silver)