Introducing: The Certina DS-2 Chronograph Automatic
Mostly known to collectors for its excellent dive watches, Certina is a brand with a rich history topside as well. This new release, the DS-2 Chronograph Automatic, takes inspiration from a particular model from 1970 that made its mark not by how deep it went. Quite the opposite, in fact. Accompanying a Japanese expedition to Everest, the original DS-2 Chronolympic made quite an epic journey back down the mountain.
Certina DS-2 Chronograph Automatic — looking back
Vintage reissues are commonplace these days. As everything old is new again, it makes sense for brands to dust off models with an exciting backstory or place in history. The DS-2 Chronograph Automatic is directly inspired by the DS-2 Chronolympic, a tonneau-cased chronograph from the early 1970s. With some moderate upsizing, the DS-2 Chronograph Automatic echoes its predecessor, a two-register chronograph rendered in stainless steel. With versions in both regular stainless steel and gold PVD, the new case and dial combinations find their origins in the designs of the 1970s.
While the original case measured 42mm wide, a slight upsize to 43.3mm was necessary to accommodate the new movement. This ETA A05.231 features 68 hours of power reserve and a silicon hairspring, truly modern movement tech in a vintage package. The chronograph features running seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute totalizer at 3 o’clock. A date window at 6 o’clock rounds out the functions, and (purists, take note) the original also had the date in this location! The steel model’s blue dial comes directly from the back catalog. The PVD model’s green dial is a bit more modern, though still a classy color combination. Both dials feature case-matching applied indices and hands along with white sub-dials and text. The gold model comes with a brown leather strap, while the steel model pairs with a blue fabric strap. Both have quick-release spring bars to make swapping straps a simple process.
The DS signature (short for “Double Security”) at 6 o’clock leans into the intent of this watch — capability and robustness. It is clear that the designers intended to make a chronograph with greater capabilities than its wearer would need. With a 200m water resistance rating — quite significant for a chronograph — and a slightly larger case, this watch is purpose-built, just like its inspiration. Some might scoff at the dimensions, but the tonneau shape of the case means that while it is 43.3mm in diameter, that is at the widest point. The narrower measure is 40mm, allowing the watch to wear comfortably.
Whether your activity involves water (I’d change the leather strap first) or scaling new heights, the DS-2 Chronograph will be a worthy companion. Dial legibility also factors into the purposefulness of the watch. The white sub-dials stand out against the darker green or blue dials. Furthermore, black printing for the running seconds and 30-minute totalizer makes reading the sub-dials easy on the eyes.
Skiing down Everest
This is where we discover the history of the Japanese expedition to Everest, and the story gets bold and daring. This expedition was not simply to scale Everest. Organized by downhill skier Yuichiro Miura, the mission was to scale Everest and ski down the South Col. On his wrist during the expedition and, importantly, his descent on skis was the Certina DS-2 Chronolympic.
While the expedition took place in 1970, a documentary about the expedition titled The Man Who Skied Down Everest was released in 1975 and won the Academy Award for best documentary. Not to spoil the film, but Miura managed to ski down 2,000 meters of the South Col using a large trailing parachute to slow his descent. He then fell 400 meters down the Lohste face from the Yellow Band below the South Col. He stopped a mere 76 meters from the edge of a large crevasse where ice pulls away from the rock face of the mountain and moves downward as a glacier.
While many watches that are reissued have interesting backstories, this is one of the most epic I have read in a while. While the DS-2 Chronograph Automatic is a faithful re-edition of the original Chronolympic, its place in Certina’s history goes hand in hand with Miura’s epic descent down Everest. Tonneau cases are among the unique case designs that mark the 1970s, and the DS-2’s adherence to the original design is well executed. Given the modern build quality, should you decide to be as bold as Miura was in 1970, you have a companion in the DS-2 Chrono that could accompany you — and time you — on your descent!
Pricing and availability
Certina’s new DS-2 Chronograph Automatic will be available starting in April 2023. The blue-dialed stainless steel version will cost CHF 1,980, and the green-dialed gold PVD model will have a price of CHF 1,995. For more information, visit the official Certina website, and let us know what you think of these watches in the comments!