Am I being overly dramatic when I think of the word “fratricide” after seeing the two-tone Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80? Well, first, this is Fratello, so it is within the theme. And then there’s the watch. Certina’s GMT took me by surprise and made me worry about its “big brother,” the Longines Spirit Zulu Time in steel with a touch of gold. Both Swatch Group creations are “flyer” GMT watches with a similar aesthetic vibe, but the prices are very different.

Not too long ago, I tried on the black and green Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 that Jorg reviewed. The obvious Rolex vibes and the sheer amount of heavy metal — stating that the bracelet is solid is a huge understatement — didn’t rock my boat, so to speak. Last week, I met up with that watch again, the “Pepsi” version, and the “Root Beer” (C032.929.26.051.00). That last one forgoes the massive Oyster-style bracelet that some people can appreciate.

Jorg, for instance, wrote the following: “The folding clasp feels decent and features a flip-lock and three drilled holes for micro-adjustment. Overall, the bracelet and clasp are not the absolute best at this price point, but they feel solid enough. As we know, bracelets and clasps in particular can often spark lots of debate at the ~€1K price point. Certina did a decent job of equipping this watch with a bracelet and clasp that feel sturdy, capable, and befitting of the price.”

Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80

The two-tone Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80: digging that root beer flavor

Although I agree with Jorg, the DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 on a bracelet is just too much hardware for me. But when I first saw the two-tone Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80, it was on its factory-standard brown leather strap and drew my attention. This calfskin strap is outfitted with a no-nonsense pin buckle that does the job perfectly, and the leather has a distressed look that suits the combination of black and brown with touches of gold. The black and brown colorway is, just like the black and green and red and blue versions of this GMT, inspired heavily (to put it very, very mildly) by the GMT-Master II references in the current Rolex catalog. And that’s no coincidence, of course. Tons of brands, including Rolex’s sister brand Tudor, do this, so why would Certina be holier than the pope?

Let’s first take a look at the bezel, which looks lush, warm, and classic. The bidirectional bezel is stainless steel with a gold-colored PVD coating and an insert made of sapphire crystal. That insert features a black and brown coating and a 24-hour scale with gold markings so you can read the time of day/night in two locations. Over the dial, the gold-colored DS Action hands feature white Super-LumiNova that lights up blue in the dark, and they move together with the white GMT hand with a lume-filled triangular tip.

Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80

Classic vibes, modern size

The looks of the DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 are classic, even bordering on retro, but its dimensions are on the modern side. The watch has a 41 × 13.8mm case that’s 49.3mm long. Another contemporary aspect is that it’s water resistant to 200 meters, meaning it’s a very versatile do-it-all, go-everywhere kind of watch. Those are great characteristics for a travel watch if you ask me. The steel case is not the pinnacle of refinement, but it’s not crude either. It is of a quality level that you can expect for the price — the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 C032.929.26.051.00 is a 1,170 watch.

Hassle-free traveling

Case-wise, the DS Action GMT Powermatic 80, stays inside its weight class. When it comes to functionality, though, it punches above its weight. And that’s mostly because of the Powermatic 80.661 (ETA C07.661) movement inside. This is a flyer-style GMT version of the Powermatic 80 caliber, which operates at 21,600vph and boasts a healthy 80-hour power reserve. This is a watch you can take flying through different time zones without hassle. The 12-hour hand moves in steps with the time zones you’re traveling through, and the date follows that hand — that’s why this watch is a so-called flyer GMT.

A flyer GMT is so much easier to use while traveling and so much more refined than a “caller” GMT that helps you to not mistakenly call your colleague in the LA office in the middle of the night. But for a long time, the flyer GMT was exclusive to watches that cost more than two months’ salary. The ETA caliber C07.661 shows the Swatch Group’s power. It had the money to invest in the development of an improvement of the caliber 2893, a caller GMT movement. Certina isn’t the only brand profiting from being in the Swatch Group when it comes to offering attractive and very practical GMT watches. The caliber also beats inside the Mido Ocean Star GMT and the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 GMT, for instance.

Certina takes on Longines

While on the subject of the Swatch Group, we should also talk about about Longines. Why? For a couple of reasons. First is the fact that Longines is, of course, just like Certina, a Swatch Group brand that uses ETA-supplied movements. But Longines doesn’t use the same ETA movements as Certina, Tissot, Rado, and Hamilton. Instead, Longines uses ETA movements that are exclusive to the brand. One of them is the Longines caliber L844.4 you’ll find inside the Spirit Zulu Time, a GMT watch. The movement inside the 39mm and 42mm versions of the Spirit Zulu Time is based on the ETA A31.441 caliber. that beats at 25,500vph and has a 72-hour power reserve plus an antimagnetic silicon balance spring. The COSC-certified movement inside the Spirit Zulu Time is objectively a better one than the C07.661 inside the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80.

Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80

But how much better is it? As mentioned, the two-tone Certina on my wrist has a price of €1,170, while the 39mm (L3.802.5.53.2) or 42mm (L3.812.5.53.2) Spirit Zulu Time in more or less the same colorway will cost you €4,700. Okay, it’s not just the movement that leads to this (huge) price difference. The Certina doesn’t use real gold. The Longines, on the other hand, does. But only the crown of the Longines is solid gold; the bezel is gold capped. Without the gold details, the Spirit Zulu Time has a starting price of €3,400. And that money buys you not just a better movement but also a ceramic rather than a sapphire bezel and a higher level of finishing. Whether that justifies the €2,230 price difference is a question you have to answer for yourself.

Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80

A question I ask myself

I can’t find an answer to the question I’m asking myself because it will take a market survey: how much extra value does the Longines logo have over the Certina one? In other words, how strong is the Longines brand compared to Certina? Do people flash their Longines watches as status symbols? I’m quite sure Certina owners don’t do that. They seem to be quieter, more introverted people who appreciate quality but are not so interested in flashing their watches to impress others.

If the classic Root Beer look is your thing but not within your budget, the most affordable Swiss-made alternative is the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80. Maybe Longines and Tudor have a bit more brand prestige, but that still doesn’t put a coveted crown on their dials. The two-tone flyer GMT from Certina is a shop-the-look watch that walks the walk and talks the talk. Certina has created a monster, and it could eat its Longines brethren for breakfast. That’s fratricide with cannibalism on top. The horror…