Certina vs. Hamilton: Who has the Best Watches?

Certina and Hamilton are good watch brands, and trying to select which is better is not easy. Nonetheless, both brands have their own qualities that differentiate them from each other, both producing good looking watches.

Certina is more focused on dress watches, whereas Hamilton is more focused on pilot watches. Certina and Hamilton is owned by the same corporation and use many of the same movements for their watches. Therefore, the choice between Certina and Hamilton comes down to personal preference.

In my personal search for my first watch, I came across both Certina and Hamilton. Personally, I chose to take a Certina DS-1 over contenders, including Hamilton. If you prefer Hamilton, I would recommend a solid timepiece like the Khaki Navy or the classic Khaki Field watch.

Certina vs. Hamilton

Dress Watches

Dress watches is a good looking watch that fits informal environments. Dress watches is typically used for a white-color work environment and formal get-togethers like weddings.

A dress watch is what most people would consider “old fashioned” or traditional. The dial is usually minimalistic, and the case is round or squared with a polish or slight brushed finish. The strap on a dress watch is traditionally made of leather.

The design of dress watches is typically simple. This means that many dress watches will only feature time telling and maybe a date feature as well.

You will rarely find water resistance lower than 50 meters. Although you wouldn’t need it for a dress watch, some features are spared for a better-looking design.

Dress watches differentiate from other watch types with the following features:

  • Minimalistic/simple design
  • Core functionality (telling time)
  • Clean looking to accommodate formal clothing
  • Smaller size (35-40mm)
  • Slim profile

All in all, dress watches are used in a formal environment (or for people enjoying the classic look) due to their simple designs and form factor.

Certina Dress Watches

Certina’s watches is simple, relatively slim, and in good quality. Certina has a long history of watchmaking. In their long history of watchmaking, Certina has made big improvements to the affordable watch category.

Certina is a watch brand that uses generic movements for their watches. Although their watches are made with generic movement, Certina’s watchmakers invented the DS system.

The DS is short for double security. The DS system was invented for maximum resistance. The DS concept is to secure multiple aspects of increased longevity:

  • Anti-magnetic
  • At least 100 meters of water resistance
  • Shock resistant
  • Robust design
  • Sapphire crystal
Certina DS-1 ref: C006.407.16.031.00
Certina DS-1 ref: C006.407.16.031.00

This is one of the best reasons for getting a Certina dress watch. You will be able to wear this watch in almost any environment.

Certina’s marketing is all centered longevity. Even their logo is a turtle to symbolize the rigid cell of Certina’s watches.

In the picture above is my personal Certina watch. Before I purchased my Omega Seamaster (a sporty watch), I wore the Certina to everything. I even went hunting is negative celsius degrees. The watch is just as accurate as when I bought it.

Certina makes dress watches with white and black dials, slim designs, nicely polished bracelets, with an exquisite play in the dial.

Hamilton Dress Watches

Hamilton is a part of the same corporation that owns Certina. In fact, the Swatch group (which owns Certina and Hamilton) also owns other watch brands such as Omega, Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, and other well-known brands.

Where Certina and Hamilton is different in their classic watches is the design. While Certina and Hamilton both manage to manufacture a high-quality dress watch, they both have different dress watch designs.

  • Minimalistic design
  • Slim case with a small crown
  • 50-hour power reserve
  • Sapphire crystal
Hamilton Intra-matic
Hamilton Intra-matic

The watch displayed above is the Hamilton intra-matic. The intra-matic line is the most uncomplicated design, with 42 mm in diameter, 22 mm lug width, fitted with a metal bracelet or leather strap. The price is hovering at around 900 dollars.

Hamilton is also making other dress watches, such as their “Jazzmaster.” Whereas the intra-matic is only made in an automatic variant. The Jazzmaster model is made in both quartz and mechanical variants. Jazzmaster is also made in over 300 designs, with many different complications.

The style of Hamilton watches is even more simplistic and elegant compared to the Certina. If you are looking for the best purist dress watch, Hamilton might suit you better.

Certina dress watches tend to be a little more experimental in their design. E.g., Certina has their crosshair dial on their DS-1, whereas Hamilton has a plain glossy dial.

Dive Watches

Dive watches is in the category of sports watches. Dive watches is a watch with the needed functionality for a diver.

A dive watch needs a rotating bezel with 0-60 minute markers, water resistance, and durability.

You can argue what defines a dive watch. There is an iso standard called ISO 6425. If a watch is certified by the ISO 6425 standard, the watch will be marked with a DIVER’S WATCH xx METERS or DIVER’S xx METERS.

A dive watch is tested both in terms of the actual durability in water. A dive watch is tested to temperature changes, reliability in the water, overpressure of 125% in relation to its related water resistance, and more other tests.

Dive watches can also be good looking and used in formal occasions. E.g., dive watches such as Rolex Submariner, or Omega Seamaster can often be found in work environments, wedding guests, and other formal occasions.

Therefore, if you haven’t found “your style” yet, don’t feel stressed about choosing between sports watches and dress watches, as sports watches can often be used in a formal setting.

Certina Dive Watches

The dive watches offered by Certina is released in the “DS Action” production line. The watches is called “DS Action Diver.”

Certina is no cheap shot when it comes to their dive watches. Not only do the watches hold some of the industry’s most robust movements, but they also feature sapphire crystal and ISO 6425 certification (certified dive watch).

For the price of around $700-$1.150 retail, the standard Certina dive watch is an absolute steal of a watch.

The price of a dive watch from Certina is one of the best when thinking of the value you are getting. Their watches are packed with over 100 years of development, which probably make Certina some of the best entry-level watch brands.

The features found in Certina’s dive watches are:

  • At least 200 meters (20 bar) of water resistance
  • Sapphire crystal on all watches
  • Some dive watches are ISO 6425 certified
  • Robust tried and tested movement and DS system
  • Super-LumiNova
  • 80-hour power reserve
  • Aluminum or ceramic bezel
  • Massive value for value

The “Double Security” or DS concept makes for a very robust watch that can handle a beating.

Furthermore, their “Powermatic 80” movement ensures an 80-hour power reserve, which is more than can be found in more popular and luxurious brands.

Certina’s dive watches is certified dive watches, which means that they will perform has one would expect of a dive watch. Therefore, the watch will have been tested in various temperatures, water depths beyond its rated capabilities, and, best of all, tested to be reliable under tough conditions.

Hamilton Dive Watches

Hamilton dive watches is released under the Khaki Navy product line. The Khaki Navy product line is not to be confused with the regular Khaki product line. The regular Khaki product line is focused on a pilot design. Whereas the Khaki Navy is diving watches.

Hamilton is different in its diving watch product line compared to most other brands. Hamilton has a couple of classic design dress watches in their diving collection.

The dress watches, which Hamilton categorizes as dive watches, have at least 100 meters of water resistance. This means that if you have a taste for more traditional watches, you can have a dress watch that can also be used in water.

Now, I might have “endorsed” Certina a lot with their dive watches. However, Hamilton also has some very nice features in their dive watches:

  • Has dress watches with high levels of water resistance
  • Unique styles of dive watches
  • Features sapphire crystals on all watches
  • Some dive watches feature Hamilton’s own movement
  • Great value for money

While Hamilton’s watches seem to be based more on movies from films and continuing the unique designs from those films, the value for money is quite good.

Although Hamilton hasn’t got the “DS” system as the Certina’s watches, Hamilton uses ETA movements, which is among the highest quality within Swiss watchmaking.

Therefore, you shouldn’t fear getting a bad watch, but rather a watch that might be less durable over time.

You can acquire Hamilton dive watches in the price range of $500-$2.100. For example, the watch you see in TENET is a PVD coated dive watch with 1000 meters of water resistance (yes, you read that right, 1000 meters).

Another movie reference watch is the Khaki Navy “Frogmen.” Although the watch looks quite different from when the original film was released back in 1951, Hamilton has kept the design heritage and improved the watch as technology got better.

The watch seen in the movie TENET costs around $2.100. The Frogmen watch costs in the range of $1.100-$1.500. The price premium you see is obviously from the heritage of the watch and some hype.

Suppose you were to buy a regular diving watch offered by Hamilton. In that case, you could expect to pay in the range of $500-$1.000 depending on whether you want a quartz watch or an automatic, water resistance level, etc.

Chronograph Watches

Chronograph watches, also called racing watches, is watches with a built-in chronograph. The chronograph function is used to time activities. The activities that can be timed can be anything from timing a sprint to timing a car around a racetrack.

The chronograph has many functions. Furthermore, the chronograph function is included in many watch styles. You will find chronographs in dive watches, dress watches, and sports watches.

A typical chronograph has 2 pushers. One pusher is located above the crown, and one pusher is located below the crown. Then you have monopusher chronographs. However, monopusher chronographs are not a standard watch.

When it comes to the essential functions, a chronograph is just a stopwatch.

Using a Tachymeter With a Chronograph

Many chronograph watches have numbers written on the bezel. Some watches have it clearly stated with text that it’s a “tachymeter,” whereas others don’t. However, if you see numbers ranging from +300 ending with 60, it’s a tachymeter indication.

Tachymeters can be used to measure speed and distance. However, the tachymeter is most commonly used to measure speed.

How a tachymeter works:

The tachymeter scale is equal to 3600 divided by the elapsed time. Since that sounds like nonsense, let me present a simple example:

  1. You are traveling down the highway. You notice that between each road sign, there is exactly 1 km.
    You time the interval between each road sign and find an interval of 27 seconds. Looking at the tachymeter bezel, you will see that at the 27-minute mark, the tachymeter is 130. This means you are going 130 km/h.
  2. You are sprinting 200 meters (as the distance at the Olympics). You time the sprint and notice it take you 30 seconds to complete the sprint. The tachymeter reads 120. However, you need to remember the spring is only 200 meters. Therefore, your actual speed was 120/5 or (1/5)*120 = 24 km/h.
  3. You’re at a manufacturing plant producing watches (because that’s exciting). You notice that the factory completes 1 watch every 45 seconds. On the tachymeter, you can now read that the plant is producing 80 watches per hour.

Certina Chronograph Watches

Certina is a brand that is many focusing on sports watches and the more traditional dress watch styles. Therefore, Certina has a good number of chronograph watches available.

Certina DS-2 chronograph
Certina DS-2 chronograph

Since the chronograph function is something that can be added to the watch and not determining the style/appeal of the watch, chronographs can be found in dive watches, pilot watches, dress watches, etc.

At the writing of this post, Certina had 61 different watches with a chronograph function.

Certina provides several good alternatives. Among the benefits of Certina is:

  • Sapphire crystal on all chronograph watches.
  • High-end and reliable movements.
  • Chronographs in classic designs, diving watches, and other types of sports watches.
  • Some models feature tachymeter.

To be quite honest, the general design of Certina’s chronographs is not very appealing to me.

Certina DS-8 Moon-Phase

However, the pictures included in this blog post is a couple of watches I wouldn’t mind owning my self.

The Certina DS-2 chronograph is appealing to me due to the resemblances to the Omega Speedmaster. However, with Certina’s own twist on the design.

The other watch I have included a picture of is a classic style watch with an added chronograph. If you were to remove the watch’s chronograph, it would basically be a completely normal dress watch with a moon-phase.

However, to draw up the parallels, Certina has a diving watch with a chronograph function. The bezel is the classic 0-60 minute diving bezel. However, at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11-hour mark on the bezel is minor polished steel. Which, to me, looks hideous.

Besides, many of the watches that are “upgraded” with the chronograph function become bigger in case size. Ultimately, this means that the watch will be clunky to wear and might not fit your wrist size.

Hamilton Chronograph Watches

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Chrono Quartz
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Chrono Quartz

Where Hamilton really has the upper hand on Certina is in their selection of watches. While Certina has a good and broad selection, Hamilton has an enormous selection.

Hamilton also has a big focus on its famous pilot and field watches, which contrasts with Certina’s focus on dress watches and sports/active watches.

The features found in Hamilton’s watches have great importance in the decision making between Certina and Hamilton:

  • Untraditional watch designs
  • Many of their watches feature their own movements, built on robust ETA movements (featuring 60-hour power reserve)
  • Diversity in styles greater than offered by Certina

However, one of the biggest drawbacks is that Hamilton’s watches often only feature water resistance to 5 ATM (meaning 50 meters).

At the writing of this post, Hamilton had 50 watches available with a chronograph function.

Hamilton Intra-matic Auto Chronograph
Hamilton Intra-matic Auto Chronograph

Although I claim that Hamilton has a bigger selection compared to Certina, Hamilton has 10 fewer chronograph watches.

However, Certina’s watches are uniform in style, whereas there is a bigger diversity in Hamilton’s chronograph watches.

The price of a Hamilton chronograph watch can be as low as $800. However, the price mainly depends on the movement inside the watch. For example, you can easily expect to pay $1.800 for an automatic watch. You can get as low as $900 if going for a quartz movement.

Jonas Henriksen

AllInWatches is founded by Jonas, who has a great interest in mechanical watches. All aspects of manual and automatic (mechanical) watches is a big interest and have been a passion since 2015, where the first automatic watch was purchased. Seeing the transparent case back and discovering the heritage of watchmaking piqued an interest in horology.

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