As we can see this weekend during the Geneva watch auctions, the world of vintage watches is so versatile, that everyone can find something there. For this instalment of our Weekend Read feature we bring you a special interview with Mr Vintage Certinas, Pascal.
Some tend to think that vintage watches are unreliable, uncool and outdated. Others contemplate about them being super expensive and unreachable. This world is not for those people. It is obvious that most of us at Fratello have a thing for these timepieces. Week after week, we try to show our readers how marvellous (and often inexpensive) a vintage watch can be. In these articles, writers regularly talk about the brands who produced the watches. However, except perhaps for the largest names, the history of said companies are unclear. Maybe the archives disappeared, or the brand changed ownership too many times. They never had the resources to keep track of their history. Or they simply did not care about it. There are many reasons.
This is why I love it when a private individual takes up the task of unfolding the story of a brand. Many – mostly self-appointed – experts talk about the past of Rolex, Patek Philippe, IWC and the likes. On another note, everyone loves a great underdog story. The history of a company that is way richer, way more interesting than its presence. Certina is such a company. It was never a low-middle price-range brand like it is today. This is the unfortunate or necessary result of the brand repositioning within Swatch Group. Having said that, Certina more and more these days pays attention to its heritage. The DS PH200M I reviewed last week is a prime example of that. Still, Certina has a long way to go. Luckily, they have some help. Please meet said private individual: Pascal Wattenhofer aka www.vintagecertinas.ch.
I stumbled across Pascal’s site a long ago when I was doing some research on some vintage Certina (duh) chronographs I have. His site helped me a lot to determine what I actually have. Although I was happy to gain some knowledge on my precious timepiece, the site also posed as a threat to my wallet. It broadened my knowledge. I realized that there are so many awesome vintage Certinas out there I did not know about. The site covered various Certina models from Surely many of you already know about this page, but probably not many know why and how it started for him. This interview will answer this and many more questions.
Balazs Ferenczi: Thanks for doing this interview Pascal. So let’s start at the beginning; What drew you to Certina in the first place?
Pascal: One evening in 2006 I visited my parents and my father mentioned that he still had an old watch and got out his Certina DS-2 which he bought in 1969. I was already interested in mechanical watches at that time and owned some but they were all new models.
My father wore the watch for many years on the construction site and it looked like that. Nevertheless, after almost forty years without a revision, it ran again immediately. That was quite fascinating! My father then had the watch serviced and gave it to me.
As there were no spare parts available, I just wanted to get some parts for any case. So I browsed the internet and came across some other nice vintage Certina models. That was when I started to inform myself about the brand and their history and that was the beginning of my story…
BF: So that was your very first vintage Certina?
P: Yes, my father’s previously mentioned DS-2.
BF: You have many different models from the brand’s past. Do you have anything on your wish list?
P: I still know relatively little about some chronographs from the fifties and early sixties. Unfortunately, there seems to be not much of them. So, I should find some of these.
BF: Moving a bit away from vintage and looking at contemporary models. Which modern Certina(s) do you like?
P: I like the mechanical DS Action, the DS Podium Chrono and the Heritage models, as you can imagine especially the new DS PH200M.
BF: I surely can. What do you think, which model should Certina revive next?
P: The one I suggested to them. Unfortunately, it won’t be (yet)… Let yourself be surprised!
BF: The DS PH200M is a great success for the brand. I know you got one among the very first ones (for a special reason). How do you like the final product?
P: Overall I find the watch very well done. It feels high quality and the price is very attractive. I think the size’s okay, too. The fact that the original DS system has been reused and details like the case back shows that it was also a matter to the heart for Certina to revive this watch. The only point which I would have made differently is that I fitted the bezel with a sapphire crystal inlay in order to get even closer to the look of the original. But of course, this would have affected the price. It is a cool watch and it is fun to try it with different straps.
BF: Let’s go back to your site a bit. Why did you create vintagecertinas.ch? What’s the goal of your website?
P: When I wanted to find out more about the vintage Certina timepieces, I found almost nothing about this topic at this time. But in various forums on the internet, I found posts from other people who also wanted to know more about their watches but their cries for help had also faded away into the depths of the World Wide Web. At that time there was not much knowledge left at Certina either.
So first I started to collect the scarce scattered information and then I also looked for watches. When I had some stuff together, I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just make a website?” At the end of 2008, the site went online.
With my website, I would like to show the interested watch aficionado that Certina created wonderful manufacture watches at that time and that there’s more than Rolex, Omega, Heuer etc..
BF: I know you have a bunch of cool vintage pieces in your collection. What’s your favorite vintage Certina you own?
P: The DS-2 Super PH500M from Ian Koblick which he wore during the Tektite experiments. That’s a fantastic piece of history and I’m very happy I got it from him. I have a magazine from 1969 with a picture of him in it and on his arm you can see exactly my watch. That’s just cool!
The Tektite experiments were done with the participation of the NASA in order to get some insights for the at that time booming space program. So it is also an exciting topic for you Speedy enthusiasts, which is why I like to invite you to the related article on my website. (click here for the article)
Thank you for your time Pascal and good luck with the site.
If you want to visit Vintage Certinas, please click here.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more