Hands-On: The Certina DS-2 Chronograph Automatic
There is something transcendentally appealing about watches worn by people performing incredible feats. The Speedmaster, a watch worn by the astronauts who set foot on the Moon, is a familiar example. A more contested case is Rolex’s association of the Explorer to the famous 1953 British expedition to the summit of Everest, a credit which should likely go to the Smiths watches alleged to have been worn by the expedition members. And speaking of Everest, the Certina DS-2 Chronograph Automatic watches I’m looking at today have quite the tale tied to the vintage timepiece that inspired them. This time, it’s not about the ascent but the descent. Yuichiro Miura’s 1970 skiing descent of the world’s highest peak, to be precise. On his wrist on that fateful day was a Certina Chronolympic chronograph. The recently released DS-2 Chronograph takes inspiration from the original, reintroducing this rugged, sporty, and charming timepiece.
Whether it’s the ’70s charm or the story behind it, this Certina is a real attention-grabbing piece. It certainly caught my eye earlier this year during a Certina press trip to Oslo. In a manner truly befitting of the inspiring watch’s incredible tale, we visited Holmenkollen. Just a few minutes’ drive outside the center of Norway’s capital, this fully-equipped ski facility towers 500 meters above sea level. On that early March day, it was the home of the Holmenkollen FIS cross-country skiing World Cup 2023. Sipping coffee from paper cups to keep warm in the crisp -11°C morning air, we witnessed the race’s start. Fifty-seven athletes kicked off from the starting blocks as the timing clock — Certina-provided equipment — kicked into life.
A Certina wristwatch, a pair of skis, and a rather rapid descent from Mount Everest
Miura’s insane 1970 descent from Everest was host to another notable name. I’m referring to the renowned Japanese alpinist and explorer Naomi Uemura. Uemura, immortalized by several Seiko limited-edition watches, completed an ascent of the peak. When the time came to make it down the mountain, Uemura likely followed the same path taken on the ascent. Yet Miura — bold, daring, or completely crazy — clipped into a pair of skis, likely pressed the pusher on his Certina Chronolympic, and made short work of the first 2,000 meters. With only a parachute to slow him down somewhat, he completed his descent. But it wasn’t smooth sailing all the way down. The run ended at the edge of a crevasse. A little too much speed, and it would have been game over for Miura.
However, this was not the case, and Mr. Miura is alive and well to this day, aged 90. It wasn’t a quiet life for Miura. Just ten years ago, aged 80, he became the oldest person ever to climb Everest, besting himself, having summited the mountain ten years prior at 70 years old. Although Yuichiro Miura’s feats are not as widely known as that of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins, his Certina wristwatch has now been immortalized. Today’s version is based on the dual-register version of the 1970s watch, as opposed to the triple-register chronograph that Miura wore. However, every other detail (except for the hands) is about as faithful as it gets. This includes the oversized case dimensions, sleek shape, and red accents on the minutes register. Certina has added some modern upgrades, some of which I’m sure you’ll very much appreciate.
The Certina DS-2 Chronograph specs
As you’ve likely already noticed, the Certina DS-2 Chronograph has made a double comeback. One version is faithful to the ’70s model. The other comes with a golden twist. They share the 43.3mm case diameter, with a 48mm lug-to-lug and 20mm lug spacing. The case is 15.8mm thick, including the tall domed sapphire crystal (which accounts for 2.8mm of its height). It’s a chunky watch to be sure. But this is faithful to the original, which was only 1mm smaller (in diameter). Both watches have matte dials, with the golden version opting for less varied golden accents that match the case, hands, and dial furnishings. The watch wears rather nicely on my 17cm (6.7″) wrist thanks to its nearly square dimensions and relatively short lugs. An optical illusion caused by the polished sloping case sides makes it appear smaller. In this sense, it reminds me of my 41mm Tissor Seastar Navigator Chronograph from 1974.
Flip the watch over, and we start to see some significant differences. Through the sapphire case back, you’ll see the ETA A05.231 automatic chronograph movement. Equipped with an antimagnetic silicon hairspring and packing a 68-hour power reserve, it sits safely inside the 200m-water-resistant case. In true DS (double security) spirit, the watch is antimagnetic and water resistant. The date can be set using the recessed pusher at 10 o’clock on the case’s side. As a result, the screw-down crown pulls out to a single time-setting position, hacking the seconds hand. The blue-dialed model comes on a blue canvas strap with contrasting yellow stitching, and the golden version on a croc-style calf leather strap in brown. Both are fitted with folding butterfly clasps. For €2,220 (including VAT), you get the gold PVD model. And for €15 less, the blue-dialed DS-2 Chronograph can be yours.
For slightly over €2K, these chronographs from Certina present an exciting option for lovers of the vintage aesthetic. Price-wise, they’re just a few hundred euros more than their Swatch Group relative, the Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph. However, with a completely different aesthetic approach and one hell of a story attached, this Certina (especially the blue version) would be my choice. Despite the similar proportions, the DS-2 case fits my wrist better, and the ’70s appeal is always a winner in my books. For more information on the Certina DS-2 Chronograph, please check out the Certina website.
And now it’s your turn! What do you think of these funky retro-inspired chronographs from Certina? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow me on Instagram: @ncgwatches