Certina DS Super PH500M Review

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Sambation
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Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by Sambation » Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:55 am

During the late 60s, an underwater experiment took place in the Virgin Islands, under the name “Tektite 1”. The goal was to observe and learn how humans live in seclusion in a hostile environment. It was sponsored by the US government and NASA – an underwater living habitat was constructed by General Electric for the job. The divers who lived in the habitat wore a Certina DS-2 Super PH500M. The watch which was waterproof to 500 meters, faithfully served the divers, something that further boosted Certina’s standing on the horological and diving map.

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Fast forward to 2020: Certina, like many other companies, is riding the “vintage reissue” wave. Having succeeded with the DS PH200M model from 2018, the company releases the DS PH500M – similar to that watch which served the divers on Tektite 1 – but then again, different – and mostly – orange.

Why Orange?

The PH500M was created with the Association of German Scuba Divers – VDST. It is commonly thought that an orange dial is most legible in tough deep-water conditions, which makes us of course think of the iconic DOXA divers.

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Not a Baby’s Toy

So what does the PH500M have that makes it such a reliable dive watch, that the German divers put their trust in it? Firstly, the dial is orange, which boosts legibility in the water. Secondly, the watch is 6425 ISO certified. It has a 60-click bezel with a twist – you have to use subtle pressure (push it in) in order to rotate it – this is of course, to prevent it from accidentally rotating by itself. The bezel is aluminum with marks every 10 minutes and marks for all minutes, very legible and blends well with the dial.

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It arrives on a black rubber strap that is very reminiscent of Seiko “accordion” straps for dive watches, which gives flexibility during the dive and fits on a dive suit. Additionally, the box contains a diver’s extension – another part of a rubber strap which is attached to the strap worn on the watch which allows for fitting on dive suits. The strap is very supple, comfortable and nice to wear, not stiff at all – but it is quite bulky and makes the watch wear bigger IMO – gives it a very toolish look.

Thankfully the lug width is 20mm, so many straps can be fitted on the watch.

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The Orange Season

Aesthetically, the PH500M shouts “I’m a dive watch!!!”. The orange dial simply cannot be ignored. I love the white sword hands which are outlined in black, something that makes them very legible and also just sexy. The dial is quite minimalistic, we have an applied Certina logo at 12 o’clock which plays nicely with the light, alongside “Certina” and “Automatic”. At 6 o’clock we have the DS logo and the name of the model “Super PH 500M” which stands for Pression Hydrostatique (water pressure).

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On generic AliExpress "FKM" style strap

The white indices are printed on the dial and at 3 o’clock we have a white date window framed in whch blends nicely with the flow of the watch. The dial as a whole features two horizontal and two vertical lines – the so called vintage “arrow dial”, which in my taste really adds to the watch. SuperLuminova is applied on the hands and indices, which makes them glow in a nice comforting blue in the dark – and they remain visible all through the night.

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Movement

I’m not big on movements, so I’ll stick to the technical facts here. The watch is powered by the Swatch Group flagship movement, the Powermatic 80 (80.611), with 80 hours of power reserve and a Nivachron balance spring which boosts resistance to magnetic fields. The watch is hackable and hand-windable. So far, all watches powered by the Powermatic 80 I had been very accurate, mostly in the COSC range – and so far, knock on wood – this one continues the tradition.

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On ZULUDIVER "FKM" style strap

Glass

The PH500M has a flat sapphire glass with AR coating from the inside, but because of its orange dial (which plays nicely with the light), in general reflections aren’t an issue while using or taking photos of it 😊 The sapphire glass sits pretty high on top which brings the watch thickness to 15mm, see photo:

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Case and Finish

The diameter is 43mm which may sound quite massive for some of us but it has a lug to lug of 48mm which makes it sit nicely on the wrist, it doesn’t feel big or overwhelming – just the right size IMO. Save from the caseback which is engraved with the VDST logo, the entire watch is polished which I think fits the style of the watch. The crown has no guards and is a little sunk into the case, which might make it a little harder to pull out – I feel – but nothing too acute.

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On Borealis Isofrane style strap

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Packaging

The PH500M arrives in a very cool dive box style packaging which further boosts the feeling of “there’s a real tool watch here”. The packaging includes the diver’s extension, manual and a leaflet about the cooperation with the VDST.

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Price

The MSRP is €895 which translates to around $1083 at the time of writing this review. I got it for around $850 at a Certina AD in Israel.

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On the stock Mesh strap that comes with the PH200M

Summary

Like many of Certina’s watches, the PH500M is a lot of Value for Money. But I think that this is a watch only “dive watch freaks” will buy and truly enjoy. I might be a little close-minded, but a watch with an orange dial is something that can be cool at the beginning but wear out pretty quickly. I’m saying that as a dive watch freak myself – I had a DOXA SUB 300T which did not stand the test of time and was sold. So at the moment I do feel that the PH500M will hold, but one thing I learned in this hobby is “never say never”.

It’s a fun watch that sits very nicely on the wrist, colorful and summery, that makes you happy each time you look at it. It takes itself seriously, not a baby’s toy as I wrote, but at the same time can be enjoyed in the depths of the sea or over a desk and keyboard.

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aikiman44
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by aikiman44 » Sat Jun 12, 2021 7:26 am

Cool orange diver, great write up.
"We'd better synchronize our watches."

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hoppyjr
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by hoppyjr » Sat Jun 12, 2021 9:34 am

That is an excellent review. Cool watch.

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jimyritz
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by jimyritz » Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:04 am

Nice review… cool orange dial… thanks for posting.

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snootydog
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by snootydog » Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:56 pm

Definitely a watch worth adding to my 'want' list :thumbsup:
Andy :uj:
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Chocodove
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by Chocodove » Sat Jun 12, 2021 3:16 pm

Not gonna lie…this review had me looking at sourcing options for this watch.
- Todd

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ChuckW
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by ChuckW » Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:13 pm

Chocodove wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 3:16 pm
Not gonna lie…this review had me looking at sourcing options for this watch.
Todd, you wouldn't regret it.

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hoppyjr
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by hoppyjr » Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:36 pm

I wish the minute hand was a little longer & fatter.

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Chocodove
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Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by Chocodove » Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:38 pm

hoppyjr wrote:I wish it was a little longer & fatter.
If I had a dime for every time you said that…
- Todd

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logan2z
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by logan2z » Sat Jun 12, 2021 7:53 pm

Chocodove wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 3:16 pm
Not gonna lie…this review had me looking at sourcing options for this watch.
https://shop.hodinkee.com/collections/c ... 0746754123

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deepcdvr
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by deepcdvr » Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:15 am

Great write up!

Can’t believe I haven’t tried this one out yet - must be getting slow on the uptake as I get old.

Thanks for posting!
VR/
Paul

NEVER SETTLE!

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snootydog
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by snootydog » Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:25 pm

Chocodove wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:38 pm
hoppyjr wrote:I wish it was a little longer & fatter.
If I had a dime for every time you said that…
You guys :roll: :roll: :roll:
Andy :uj:
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snootydog
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by snootydog » Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:31 pm

The Helson Tortuga has the same bezel system, push it down before it'll rotate. Quite a few vintage dive watches used that system.
Andy :uj:
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Sambation
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by Sambation » Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:21 am

Thanks for the positive feedback guys!

Here it is on a new ZULUDIVER 295 Vintage Rubber strap. Excellent quality! Top notch.

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andy tims
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by andy tims » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:56 pm

Nice write up. Looks great.
Andy

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OrangeSport
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by OrangeSport » Sun Aug 01, 2021 10:15 am

Nice review., great watch. I'm enjoying mine..
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hoppyjr
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by hoppyjr » Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:28 pm

Is there a good AD where one can source the black dial version?

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OrangeSport
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by OrangeSport » Sun Aug 01, 2021 10:12 pm

hoppyjr wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:28 pm
Is there a good AD where one can source the black dial version?
Not sure where you are, but Jura Watches has them.

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hoppyjr
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by hoppyjr » Sun Aug 01, 2021 10:27 pm

OrangeSport wrote:
hoppyjr wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:28 pm
Is there a good AD where one can source the black dial version?
Not sure where you are, but Jura Watches has them.
Thank you.

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demer03
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Re: Certina DS Super PH500M Review

Post by demer03 » Mon Aug 02, 2021 2:39 am

hoppyjr wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 10:27 pm
OrangeSport wrote:
hoppyjr wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:28 pm
Is there a good AD where one can source the black dial version?
Not sure where you are, but Jura Watches has them.
Thank you.
Yep, Jura is where I bought mine.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen

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