March 27, 2020
1960s Certina DS 5601-013
A timeless design is admirable, and no easy task to realize, but there's something undeniably cool about a look that speaks to the age out of which it emerged, serving up a piping hot plate of nostalgia and otherness. That's why I dig what many deem to be the weird stuff, as it plays a crucial role in keeping this arguably nonsensical watch-collecting game fun. With this in mind, I thought I'd make mention of one of my favorite dive watches of the 1960s, featuring one of the more daring aesthetics of the era. It's not only an exciting sight to see, but a well-preserved one at that. You're looking at a first execution variant of the Certina DS. Although it is not known to many, it is held in extremely high regard in dive-watch collecting circles for its durability. As some will know, "DS" stands for Double Security, in reference to the two main facets that make up the collection's design principle. By surrounding the movement with a flexible shock absorber, and leaving a very small gap between the attached dial and case, Certina was able to ensure the movement could move in all directions without affecting the watch's timekeeping functions upon impact. Following its introduction, DS models would soon accompany mountaineers like Max Eiselin on expeditions to the summit of the Himalayas, proving the watch to be a true tool capable of withstanding the most demanding conditions.
Two years after the first DS timepieces broke out onto the scene, automatic movement-powered, gilt-dial dive pieces like this were rolled out, lumed with radium on both their dials and hands. This example's radium has achieved a stunning rich tone, which stands out against the glossy black surface of the dial. All of this is housed within a 36mm stainless steel case produced by Huguenin Frères that's still attached to its original Certina-branded bracelet by Gay Frères. Every last box imaginable is checked by this outstanding DS, making it a no brainer for anyone on the hunt for a watch with unique construction.
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