Certina was founded in Grenchen by brothers Adolf and Alfred Kurth in 1888, initially making movements and components, but soon designing and making their own watches. Their first brand name was Grana, an abbreviation of Granacus, the Latin for Latin for Grenchen. Their earliest watches were pocket watches, and their first wrist watches were made for women, in 1906. By 1918 the company had a large factory, making virtually all components and movements. The Kurth brothers’ inventions included a watch with an entirely digital display in 1936, and a concept of protecting the movement by suspending it in a reinforced case. They named this Double Security, DS, which has remained part of the brand’s DNA right up until today. 1938 marked the company’s 50th anniversary, and the adoption of a new brand name. Certina, from the Latin Certus, “sure, certain.” Ten years later Certina opened a branch in Germany, and began expanding throughout global markets.
The company developed links to sport, and supplied a Swiss expedition to Mount Dhaulagiri (8,222 metres) in 1960, and the U.S. underwater Sealab II experiment in 1968. Another interesting concept was the Certina Biostar (1971), which displayed biorhythms as well as the time and date.
By 1973, the company was employing 900 people and making 600,000 watches per year. The quartz revolution took its toll, the company drastically downsized and was rescued in 1983 by SMH, a group formed by the merger of ASUAG and SSIH and headed by Nicolas G. Hayek. In 1999 SMH became “The Swatch Group Inc.” Certina’s positioning became that of a mid-level sports brand, with a wide range of watches now comprising quartz models from around €300, right through to mechanical watches costing up to €2,000.
Certina continued its links to sports, working with Sauber Petronas, later BMW Sauber, in F1, the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), and Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen. In 2013 Certina celebrated its 125th anniversary and changed brand colour from red to green, continuing to use the DS concept and the tortoise logo to express their watches’ durability.
Certina SA, Mattenstrasse 149
2503 Biel, Switzerland
Adrian Bossard, CEO