We are currently living in somewhat of a golden era for mechanical GMT watches, and while a traveler-style GMT movement with an independently adjustable local hour hand was once something that only existed at a price point of several thousand dollars, there are now quite a few affordable watches that offer this highly practical functionality. As one of the more reasonably priced brands within the horological manufacturing powerhouse of Swatch Group, Certina consistently delivers a strong product for the money, and the brand’s latest release for 2024 is the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80, which makes its debut appearance in three different colorways and represents a highly compelling entry into the increasingly competitive travel watch landscape.

While Certina may not have all that much of a presence here within the United States, I’ve always been a fan of the brand’s watches, and many of its recent releases hold up incredibly well when compared to their more expensive counterparts from sibling Swatch Group brands. Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case of the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 has a largely brushed finish, and the only high-polished elements on the entire watch are its winding crown and the outer rim of its bezel (plus the underside surface of its case, which remains hidden against the wrist). While the finishing on the watch is undeniably less elaborate than what you get from some of the more expensive Swatch Group brands like Longines and Omega, the finishing itself is objectively rather tidy, and the entire watch feels very solid and well-constructed.

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At the time of launch, the new Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 is available in three different configurations. The first of the trio is the black and green version featured here (ref. C032.929.11.051.00), while the second one is its blue and red sibling that is also fitted with a matching stainless steel bracelet (ref. C032.929.11.041.00). Meanwhile, the third model (ref. C032.929.26.051.00) features a black and brown colorway with yellow gold accents, and it swaps out the stainless steel bracelet of its two siblings for a dark brown leather strap. Aside from the finishing on their components and what type of strap/bracelet gets fitted to their lugs, the three new DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 models are otherwise identical from a design and functionality standpoint, and they largely follow in the aesthetic footsteps of the brand’s existing DS Action Diver series.

In terms of dimensions, the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 measures 41mm in diameter by 14mm thick, with 20mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug profile of 49.5mm. Sitting between two guards at the 3 o’clock location is a signed crown with a high-polished finish that screws down to the middle case to help ensure the 200 meters of water resistance that is offered by the collection. The top of the watch’s case is furnished by a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on its interior surface, and this is surrounded by a 120-click bidirectional bezel that is fitted with a split-color sapphire 24-hour insert. Meanwhile, the reverse side of the DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 receives a screw-down display caseback with a flat sapphire window, and although the movement itself is largely undecorated, the ability to look inside the case and see the watch’s internals is still a welcome feature.

Since the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 has its 24-hour scale located on its bezel, its dial is near-identical to what can be found on its dive watch siblings, with applied hour markers, a minute track printed along an angled chapter ring, and a date window at the 3 o’clock location. On the ref. C032.929.11.051.00 featured here, the dial is black with crisp white markings, and it features small bright green accents for its 24-hour hand and “GMT” text. The hour markers and all four hands are finished with blue-emission Super-LumiNova, and while the inverted triangle on the bezel is also luminous, the rest of its markings do not glow at all. Given that it is relatively easy to have luminous markings with a sapphire bezel insert, I personally feel that it was a bit of a missed opportunity not to make the entire 24-hour scale glow in the dark, although the ample amount of Super-LumiNova on the hands and hour markers still provides a highly legible display when viewed in low-light settings.

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Inside the new Certina DS Action GMT watches is the Powermatic 80.661 automatic GMT movement (ETA Cal. C07.661), which is based upon the core architecture of the venerable ETA 2824. With that in mind, just like other movements from the Swatch Group’s Powermatic 80 series, the Powermatic 80.661 drops the operating frequency of the ETA base caliber from 28,800vph (4 Hz) down to 21,600vph (3 Hz) to achieve an extended power reserve of approximately 80 hours. In addition to featuring a Nivachron balance spring for increased accuracy and protection against magnetism, the Powermatic 80.661 also includes true traveler-style GMT functionality with an independently adjustable local hour hand that can be jumped forwards or backward in one-hour increments. While some may have reservations about the lower beat rate of the Powermatic 80 series, it’s undeniable that this GMT variation offers quite a lot of functionality at a very reasonable price point.

Similar to the case, the three-link bracelet fitted to the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 is also crafted from stainless steel with an entirely brushed finish. Additionally, while the bracelet uses solid machined components and connects to the case with integrated quick-release springbars, the removable links are secured by friction-fit pins instead of the more premium method of single-sided screws. While it’s rather easy to overlook this minor detail, it still feels like somewhat of a letdown since there are far less expensive watches that are capable of offering a more refined bracelet sizing system. The signed clasp features an additional safety latch and operates with a double push-button release, although it is still a fairly standard offering by today’s standards, and it lacks any type of integrated extension system. While you do get three sizing holes to place the springbar, along with two half-links for the bracelet to help achieve a comfortable fit on the wrist, the lack of a built-in clasp extension means that you won’t have the ability to make any on-the-fly incremental adjustments.

As one of the more attainable brands within Swatch Group, Certina categorically exists at a lower price point than its more luxury-oriented sibling companies, and the new Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 is priced at 1,040 CHF for the model with a leather strap or 1,070 CHF for either of the bracelet-equipped versions (which works out to approximately $1,200 USD at the time of writing). All things considered, this pricing seems quite reasonable given that Certina is a historic Swiss brand, and that statement only becomes even more valid when you consider the high degree of functionality that is offered by this particular model. When it comes to Swiss watches, I often say that some of the best value for the money exists among the more affordable Swatch Group brands, and while bottom-dollar GMT watches with the Japanese Miyota 9075 can be purchased for significantly less than four figures, the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80 represents a tangible step up in terms of both quality and brand-name prestige. For more information on the Certina DS Action GMT Powermatic 80, please visit the brand’s website.

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