Dive Watch Wednesday: The ’70s Style of the Certina SuperPH 1000M

Certina DS-2 SuperPH - Yellow dialBack in 2004, Certina reintroduced one of its more unusual looking dive watches, launched in the early 1970s, as a limited edition. A more modern interpretation of the original model, the reborn Certina DS-3 1000M (Ref.633.7128.42.61), featured an integrated helium release valve, a rather unusual hour hand (which made quite a few request for a modification, with an alternate set of hands) and most importantly, its 44-mm-wide, 14-mm-thick case was not quite as bulky as the original, at 18 mm thick.

That bulky case is what gave the first Certina DS-2 SuperPH 1000M (Ref. 5801 302, later followed by the DS-3) its very distinctive look, but it’s also what made it rather difficult to wear, even by today’s standards (a good thing, from a collector’s point of view) and its massive caseback is not a great example of ergonomics, either. Regardless of all that, the DS-2 is definitely one of diveintowatches.com’s all-time favorite vintage dive watches, mainly because it is one of the earliest “extreme” dive watches of that era, which challenged the way dive watches were supposed to look. “DS,” in case you are wondering, stands for the brand’s “double security” concept, and the main difference between the DS-2 and DS-3 is the number of crown-sealing techniques implemented. Despite having all the stuff that is needed to create a legendary watch, and despite having been issued as an official dive watch by the RAN (Royal Australian Navy), the Certina SuperPH 1000M does not appear to have been used as often as some of its rival models from that time (or, if it was, its usage has not been documented as well). Certina claims the DS-2 was extensively tested during the Tektite experiments, but all sources point to its predecessor, the much rarer SuperPH 500M (which was equipped with a locking bezel similar to that on IWC’s Ocean 2000 and GST Aquatimer), which was launched in 1969, a year before the DS-2.

Certina DS-2 SuperPH 1000m - Yellow Dial - front
Certina’s SuperPH 1000M diver from the 1970s, yellow-dial version
Certina DS-2 SuperPH 1000m (Yellow dial)
The SuperPH 1000M next to an earlier 500M model

Certina produced both a black- and a yellow-dial version (the latter was advertised as “orange”) with printed or applied hour markers. An identical case and bezel were used for a model from Technos (which used an ETA movement), and there is a suspiciously similar, slightly rounder case that was offered by Jaquet Droz in 1970 and sold under different brand names (e.g. Nivada). This could be an indication that the original case was provided by Jaquet Droz as well. First generation models of the Certina DS-2 were powered by a Certina Caliber 25-651, later models by a 919-1, both protected by a movement ring made out of rubber. The watch also features a massive, screw-in crystal which contributes greatly to its distinctive look. Early brochures (circa 1972) show a list price of just 385 Swiss francs for the watch on synthetic-leather Corfam strap, CHF 395 on actual leather and CHF 420 on a steel bracelet.

Certina DS-2 SuperPH 1000m - Yellow dial, with crystal
The massive crystal is held by a screw-in ring
Certina DS-2 SuperPH 1000m - Caseback
The huge caseback is not particularly ergonomic.

Unfortunately, if you are interested in adding one of these pieces to your collection, you should expect to pay at least five to 10 times as much as these prices nowadays, depending on the watch’s condition. Fortunately, there are still a few unworn examples of these watches around. And now you know why.

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  1. Derek Howarth

    I actually wish Certina still made the 18mm version. Ergonomic comfort is important but to me dive watches can evoke the freedom to be bold , be brave and be brash for the hell of it. What other genre of watch would make sense to dance with those boundaries ?

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