Swatch Group

Interview with Adrian Bosshard, CEO of Certina

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July 2018

Interview with Adrian Bosshard, CEO of Certina

Rather discreet in comparison with the heavyweights of the Swatch Group, the brand with the turtle logo is appreciated in northern and eastern Europe for its robust sports timepieces. It is currently looking to expand into China with some new, more classic models and vintage reissues. We met Certina’s CEO, Adrian Bosshard.

What was the highlight of the last Baselworld in this anniversary year for Certina?

If I had to cite just one model, I’d mention our reissue of the DS PH200M watch that was popular with divers in the 1960s and 70s. During those two decades, Certina put the toughness of its watches to the test in a series of research projects and expeditions in mountainous regions and on the sea. That gave rise to a model dedicated to life underwater: the DS PH200M.

This reissue, fitted with a Powermatic 80 calibre, combines the look of the period with ultramodern materials. Like on the original model, you can see the turtle in relief on the back of the watch, our logo since 1959, the same year in which the DS system (Editor’s note: DS for Double Security) was invented. Today this symbol embodies modern environmental preoccupations – since last year we’ve been collaborating closely with the Sea Turtle Conservancy foundation.

Adrian Bosshard, CEO of Certina
Adrian Bosshard, CEO of Certina

But why did you choose a turtle as the logo in 1959? Environmental preoccupations weren’t as strong then as they are now. The symbolism has evolved...

You’re right. That animal was chosen first of all to reflect the robustness of the DS system, which has really constituted the core of Certina’s identity since 1959. Guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 200 metres thanks to gaskets on the winding stem and crown, a reinforced case back and scratchproof sapphire crystal (Editor’s note: in later versions), this system heralded new standards of robustness in watchmaking.

Today, we still target active people, people who love adventure and strong sensations. This is why we’ve also launched a special DS-1 Powermatic 80 Himalaya model, which pays tribute to a Swiss expedition equipped with the Certina DS-1,which conquered Mount Dhaulagiri, near Everest, in 1960 for the first time.

Certina DS-1 Powermatic 80
Certina DS-1 Powermatic 80

Unlike other Swatch Group brands, which are present all over the world, you have a strong presence in certain, very specific markets...

The difference is that we’ve always been an international brand, but never a global one. In other words, we cover very specific markets: historically, our markets have been Europe (Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain), but the two markets where we’ve gained a foothold more recently, in the past decade, are eastern Europe (Russia and Poland) and China.

In fact you’re also in charge of eastern countries at the Swatch Group. How do you explain Certina’s success in Russia, especially after the fall of Iron Curtain?

Certina has always produced robust sports watches… and rather large ones. In Russia, people appreciate those characteristics, all the more so in a tough climate. And it’s also a market with a historical watchmaking culture – which other brands of the Group, like Tissot or Breguet, also take advantage of. So we have both heritage and credibility. Not to mention excellent partners out there. And attractive prices – we cover a range from 300 to 1,500 francs, with the average price at 600 francs.

What are the main differences between the markets of northern and eastern Europe?

In Scandinavia we mainly sell models with metal bracelets, whereas in Russia leather straps predominate. Titanium is a keenly sought-after material in northern Europe (Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland), where it’s appreciated for its strength and lightness, while also being antiallergenic. Conversely, heavier watches are preferred in Russia and Asia, where they’re viewed as “real” watches. As for movements, we sell more quartz watches in Europe, whereas in Asia mechanical calibres predominate.

Certina DS PH200M
Certina DS PH200M

Is your next horizon China, where other brands of the Swatch Group – Longines especially – are already well-established?

Indeed, we’re going to continue expanding into China. With our very sporty image, we didn’t really correspond to what Chinese customers are seeking above all – elegance and finesse – until now. Today, we cover four worlds that give us broad appeal – sport, diving, urban and heritage. But we still have room for improvement in Europe, where I see two markets with strong potential for Certina: Germany and Spain, where we can still win market share.


Besides Certina, headquartered in Le Locle, Adrian Bosshard also heads up the German brand Union Glashütte, founded in 1893 by Johannes Dürrstein: “He was the distributor for A. Lange & Söhne and his dream was to develop a top-class brand but in a lower price segment than A. Lange & Söhne,” explains the CEO. The company was successful until World War Two. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Swatch Group acquired Union Glashütte at the same time as Glashütte Original, in 2000. “The stratification of the two brands is clear,” explains Adrian Bosshard. “Glashütte Original is a luxury manufacture that develops its own calibres. Union Glashütte is a historic brand that uses ETA parts as the basis but makes its own oscillating weights, bridges and three-quarter plates for its manualwound calibre and assembles the movement and watch in its workshops in Glashütte.”

Interview with Adrian Bosshard, CEO of Certina

With its classic design, very Germanic style and exclusively mechanical models, the brand has a virtually all-German customer base, but also some Asian and Russian customers.