Precision: Rallying Support, December 2015

Certina makes battle-ready sports watches that are perfectly suited to the WRC

I’ve always personally held the view that the most skilled drivers are rally drivers, because they deal with asphalt, snow and ice and dirt roads and they face conditions that are always changing.” These are not the words of a biased insider or die-hard rally fan, but of the ex-Formula 1 star David Coulthard. While F1 certainly leads the way in terms of glamour, as a test of both driver and car rallying is hard to beat. 

The world of watches is not short on its own share of glamour. Even someone who has never expressed even a passing interest in horological matters could, if pressed, come up with at least half a dozen names of watch companies that are as well known for providing wrist candy as they are for their prowess with the clockwork innards.

Certina is not a brand that has chased the glitz, but one that has built a long-won reputation for honing its core skills. It was established by the Kurth brothers in the Swiss town of Grenchen at the foot of the Jura mountains in 1888. It began as a small business in a workshop attached to the family home, where the brothers and three employees produced movement parts for other watchmakers before moving on to making complete timepieces themselves. 

In the early 20th century, then going by the name Grana, it was among the first brands to produce wristwatches and won a number of prestigious horology awards for the quality of its pieces. By 1918 the firm moved from the small home workshop to a full manufacturing facility, with the capability to produce every part of the watch movement in-house. 

The company built on a reputation for innovation, notably producing an early digital watch in 1936, with rotating discs showing the hours and minutes digitally through two apertures in the metal case. By 1955 it had become one of the most advanced watchmakers of its time, employing 500 people and producing a thousand watches per day. 

In the late 1950s the company, by then going by the name Certina, developed its Double Security (DS) system, so-called because the movement was placed inside a highly reinforced case and had also been suspended to protect it from further shocks. In 1960 the watches, which were also water and pressure resistant, were taken on an expedition to the Himalayas in order to prove how tough they were. 

Thus began an involvement with rugged outdoor pursuits that continues to this day. Over the years Certina has been associated with yacht racing, hockey, boxing, motocross, motorcycle racing, F1 and rallying. 

Since 2013 Certina has been official timekeeper of the FIA World Rally Championship, and this year the brand also announced a partnership with the WRC’s Citroën Total Abu Dhabi team. 

The fit with rallying is perfect – stylish, no-nonsense watches built by a company that has honed its skills in the very toughest of conditions.