Friday, September 16, 2011

Certina Kurth Frères

Certina Kurth Frères SA is a Swiss luxury watchmaker company founded in Grenchen, 1888, by Adolf and Alfred Kurth, and currently an affiliate company of the Swatch Group.

Certina Kurth Frères SA was founded in 1888 when Adolf and Alfred Kurth opened in Grenchen their first movement and supplies factory for the watchmaking industry. At the start Certina's staff consisted of three employees working in a workshop that was connected to the family home. Certina did not begin producing complete watches and timepieces for a few years which they then did alongside their work producing movements for other companies. By 1938 the company had expanded and 250 employees celebrated the 50th anniversary of the company. At that time Certina were already known as pioneers.

 Certina DS Podium

Certina continued to expand and by 1955 the company had 500 employees working between the factory and offices, producing 1'000 timepieces every day. Certina worked up a new business plan that expanded its operations and was at the time considered the most modern and best equipped watchmakers in the world.

By 1972 Certina employed 900 people and produced 600,000 watches every year. The company was ranked first in most major jewellery watch fairs, and they obtained both the "International Diamonds Awards" and the "Golden Rose" award. By this time Certina was producing 375,000 watch components per day and used 53,000 rubies.

1983 Certina became a member of the SMH Group (Swatch).

Affiliation to General Watch Co, Allgemeine Gesellschaft der schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG)
By 1971, the owning family had wisely decided to join General Watch Co, the newly created sub-holding of ASUAG, in order to concentrate their efforts with others. The onslaught of the Japanese Watch Industry (under the rules of their strategic management: see Strategic management ) with their own reliable and much cheaper automatic, and then Quartz watches, stopped Certina's expansion to a relative standstill. The restructuration involved the abandon of their own manufacture of Certina movement styles calibres , and by the end of the 1970s, Certina operations were moved to Biel/Bienne and the entity Edox & Technos. Under the new management, Certina managed to hold onto some of their strongholds, especially in the Scandinavian countries. Upon the merger of SSIH and ASUAG companies, Certina became a member of a new managerial entity, together with Mido and Tissot, which has now established itself in Le Locle, (the newly elected Unesco World Heritage Site in Switzerland ).

Wristwatches, World’s First & Lines of Collection
  • The first wrist-watches : were already produced by the company in 1938 : predominately ladies watches, because men still preferred pocket watches. For "exceptional performance" the founders received the Milan Fair's gold medal award.
  • Digital Watch: 1936 Certina was the first company to produce the digital watch. It was driven by a spring movement. Rotating disks bearing inscribed numbers were used to display the time, instead of hands.
  • DS (Double Security) Line: In 1959 Hans and Edwin Kurth had set themselves the objective of creating a brand new niche in the marketplace, based on quality through engineering and technical designs. Thus Certina created the concept of suspending the watch movement inside a highly reinforced case, which they named DS for "Double Security". The Certina DS were the first watches to raise the water resistancy and shock protection down to 6 m (previous watches were set at 2.2 meters). The Certina DS watch was taken up the Himalayas by a team who climbed the Dhaulagiri and the watch withstood all changes in pressure and altitude.
  • Biostar: In 1971 Certina introduced the Biostar, the world's first watch that displayed human biorhythms.
  • "Scratchproof" : Certina went on to produce many world firsts including the "unscratchable" DS-DiaMaster in tungsten carbide and scooped many awards.

Advanced Systems and Materials
Recent collection of Certina include Titanium, 316L high grade stainless steel, sapphire glass, its own DS feature (such as the current "DS Podium", "DS First" or "DS Action") and ETA Swiss made movements are standard features. It currently offers collections, classified under the names "Automatic", "SPORT Classic", "SPORT Elegant" and "SPORT Xtreme", including some models claimed to perform up to 100 m underwater.

Certina Basic

Motoring Sponsoring & Partnerships
The 2000s saw many new partnerships with motoring companies including Colin McRae, Sete Gibernau, and finally the Sauber Petronas Formula One team, which is nowadays known as BMW Sauber Formula One team, of which Certina is currently engaged in a sponsorship.

Certina was timekeeper of the Motorcycling Grand Prix in the 1990s.

The Certina brand
In 1906 the Certina brand name was used for the first time, with Adolf and Alfred choosing to call their watches "Grana", the short form of "Granatus", the Latin name for Grenchen.

In 1938 the company adopted the name "Certina", taken from the Latin "certus", meaning "assured", "certain", as their exclusive trademark for the export and marketing of their outstanding quality Swiss Made watches.