Reliability, precision and innovation have underlined the Certina philosophy since 1888, year of the foundation of the company by the Kurth Brothers.
In 1959, Certina developed its famous Double Security DS system, to bring to its watches exceptional sturdiness and outstanding water resistance. From its earliest days, the Swiss brand made a strong commitment to motor racing and action sports, and proudly placed its name next to illustrious champions such as Muhammad Ali, Mike Doohan, Alex Crivillé, Petter Solberg, Sete Gibernau and Thomas Lüthi.
In 2005, Certina became Official Partner of the team then known as Sauber Petronas, and since 2006 has stood behind the BMW Sauber F1 Team and team driver Robert Kubica, its brand ambassador inside the team.
A subsidiary of the world’s largest international watchmaking organisation Swatch Group, Certina is currently world leader in the sport watch segment priced between CHF 300.- and CHF 2,000.-, and is represented in more than 60 countries.
The chronology of Certina’s success faithfully mirrors its path, an impressive journey guided by an unwavering instinct for perfection and innovation. Significant and deeply exciting moments in company history have built and endorsed an outstanding reputation, through two ideals which still drive it forward today: Precision and Reliability.
The adventure began in 1888, when brothers Adolf and Alfred Kurth opened a high-quality watch movement and supplies business in Granges, Switzerland. Their activities were expanded a short time later to include full watch manufacturing, and from 1906 onward, their production bore the Grana signature (for Granacus, Latin for Granges). In those early years already, outstanding quality and durability were guiding principles for the two founders, whose creations garnered prestigious prizes at the Milan Fair in 1906, in Brussels in 1910 and in Bern in 1914. Later, the company began producing its own movements, with an innovative slant for originality shown by – among the many other inventions that were yet to come – a first mechanical digital watch, in 1936.
In 1938, the business’s 50th Jubilee marked the triumph of a family operation that had become an incorporated company employing some 250 workers. To celebrate the passage, the enterprise was re-christened with a name that is today known the world over: Certina. It was a new identity laden with meaning, from the Latin Certus for “sure, certain”, that portended the company’s drive towards a broader, more international market. And so, almost predictably, the business opened its first subsidiary in Germany in 1948, the beginning of a truly worldwide story.
The fine creative spirit of Alfred Kurth’s sons Erwin and Hans, who had joined the team in the late 1920s, coupled with the brilliant work of company engineers and technicians saw the emergence in 1959 of Certina’s landmark Double Security “DS” concept. A shock-resistant movement suspension system, a reinforced case, sapphire watch glass, special o-rings on stem, crown and case back, each of these components became a factor in Certina’s legendary resistance, even under extremely demanding conditions.
The DS system set the brand one large step ahead of the competition, and the era became one of association with the scientific research and technological communities, touching three areas highly favoured by human exploration: water, air and earth. It was an excellent opportunity for Certina to showcase its technological expertise.
A Certina DS accompanied Switzerland’s 1960 expedition to the Dhaulagiri (8222m) in the Himalayas, and proved its absolute reliability in extreme changes of temperature and altitude. The following year, Certina launched its Blue Ribbon model, the world’s most resistant watch of its time, equipped with an extraordinarily-flat self-winding movement.
The gruelling Sealab-II experiment of 1968 saw the expedition’s US Marines diving team equipped with Certina DS watches. Two years later, America’s NASA rated the Certina DS Super PH 1000m as excellent during its Tektite I experiments in the coastal waters off the West Indies. The same year, the DS Chronolympic model further affirmed Certina’s reputation for solidity during the extreme downhill of Mount Everest by the Japanese skier Miura.
A year later, the Certina Biostar was launched, the world’s first timepiece to display human biorhythm cycles. The DS Diamaster was created in 1976, and found an instant and rather famous fan – American boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The brand showed its continuing design excellence in the world of jewellery timepieces as well, with major prizes at the International Diamond Awards, and its wins of the Oscar and the Golden Rose in Baden-Baden in 1970 and 1972. By this time, Certina staff numbered about 900 workers, with an output of approximately 600,000 watches per year.
The arrival of the quartz movement in the watchmaking sector of the 70s and 80s turned the industry upside down. Every player had to find great resourcefulness and flexibility in his efforts to manage substantial staff cutbacks, changing manufacturing processes and a totally new global watch industry paradigm.
Certina’s operations were not spared these important new alignments, and jointly with the SSIH and ASUAG merger in 1983, it became part of an entity named SMH, led by a group of investors with Nicolas G. Hayek at the helm.
This key step was one which turned SMH into the world’s most important watchmaking group, an entity whose name was changed to the now renowned “The Swatch Group Inc.” in 1999. Within the busy array of the group’s subsidiaries, Certina became the “sport” brand in the mid-priced segment.
Certina’s enviable market position has been fuelled by its determination to offer an exceptional quality-to-price ratio to a wide public, with watches in the CHF 300.00 and CHF 2,000.00 retail price bracket.
The brand is proud to have its head office in Switzerland, a country which on the one hand holds an outstanding world reputation and moreover, one that is also its main market. For over fifty years, the company has made strong inroads into the Nordic and Central regions of Europe and in recent times, has shown remarkable growth in the rest of Europe, the Middle-East, Russia and China.
Since the 1970s, Certina has brought its dynamic signature to many top-level sports and shouldered the success stories of illustrious champions such as Muhammad Ali, Mike Doohan, Alex Crivillé, Colin McRae, Petter Solberg, Sete Gibernau and Timo Glock.
The third millennium shows great promise for the highly active sport brand. From 2001 until 2007, the company stood behind Swiss rider Thomas Lüthi on the GP motorcycling circuit, and at the end of the 2005 season, he was crowned 125cc World Champion, before he finally joined the 250cc category in 2007. The 2005 calendar had been an eventful one for Certina, as it had marked the brand’s bold move into the world of Formula 1 racing, as Official Partner of the Sauber Petronas team.
In 2006, the firm’s ties with Formula 1 were consolidated by the signing on of a new ambassador, the young, talented driver Robert Kubica, and the launch of exciting new product lines which highlighted its deeper direction and commitments. Certina’s partnership was further reinforced through the structural evolution of the former Sauber Petronas organisation into the much larger BMW Sauber F1 Team.
That same year as well, Certina had gained international media attention for its special stunt event and promotional spot featuring Oliver Keller, in which the Hollywood stuntman, faithful to Certina since 2001, gave a smashing launch to the latest edition of the DS Cascadeur Chrono.
Today, with time moving ever on wards, ambition and success continue to guide Certina, as the company has extended its partnership with BMW Sauber F1 Team, through a prolongation of their agreement. This engagement rides alongside a tremendous wave of creativity at Certina, rich with tradition and demonstrated by a whole range of new and inspired collections intended for consumers who appreciate timepieces with a clearly sporty temperament.
This trait is ever present in the featured product lines and fits into the following styles: classical, elegant or extreme. True to its philosophy, the Swiss brand continues to direct its various designs and aesthetic themes quite specifically for its feminine or masculine buying public. Its latest creations issued from new models of the DS Podium, DS Prince, DS First, DS Action, DS Cascadeur, DS Royal and DS Stella illustrate this with many truly brilliant examples. Certina’s long and impressive corporate history carries the deep imprint of this strong sense of creative achievement, and its devotion to true innovation.
Official website: www.certina.com