I've used the Certina DS Action 43mm – is it the best affordable dive watch yet?

This sub-£1,000 dive watch is gorgeous – but does the performance live up to the pretty face?

The Certina DS Action 43mm in Black, on a grey background
(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Earlier this month, Certina unveiled the latest addition to their range of dive watches. Dubbed the Certina DS Action 43mm, the sub-£1,000 timepiece packs a killer spec sheet with an appealing all-black design.

You'll find 300m of water resistance, with a proper ISO 6425 dive rating. That should give users complete faith in the device when engaging in underwater pursuits.

I've been getting hands on with this model for the last week, using it as a daily watch. So, is it as good as it looks? Read on, and you'll find out.

The Certina DS Action 43mm in Black, on a grey background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

First impressions of this watch are good. Before I'd even strapped it to my wrist, I was drawn in by the dial. The solid black gives a fantastic amount of depth, and the indices, hands and text being white gives a great contrast.

What's more, the black painted outlines for the hands and indices blend perfectly with the background. That's a small detail, but it really does contribute to a beautiful, clean appearance. If they were any other colour, things might start to look a little cluttered, but there's no hint of that here.

That none-more-black aesthetic extends to the rest of the watch. The stainless steel case is coated with black PVD. That's mirrored on the edge of the bezel, with a matching black ceramic bezel insert. The satin finish feels really luxurious and soft to the touch. It's classy and elegant in a way a dive watch on a NATO strap really has no business being.

Speaking of the strap, you'll have no issues there either. Sure, there's only so much you can do with a NATO, but this is about as good as they get. The buckle and retainers are the same PVD-coated stainless steel as the case, and feel sturdy. The leather panel around the holes is a nice touch, too.

The Certina DS Action 43mm in Black next to the Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT, on a grey background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Strapping it on was a different experience altogether. 43mm may not be much in the watch world, but my smaller wrists were always going to struggle a little. My daily driver – a Christopher Ward C63 Sealander GMT, pictured beside the Certina above – sits at just 39mm. I'd consider that to be right about the sweet spot for me.

And at first, it did feel huge. It's not just the case diameter – at just 13mm tall, this sits proudly on the wrist. On the first day, I found it getting caught on just about everything, from bag straps to jacket sleeves.

By the end of the week, I can't say I notice that anymore. The NATO strap drapes straight down from the lugs, ensuring no additional wrist real estate is used. In fact, I actually really like the size of it. It's probably right at the top end of what I could get away with, but hey, what are self-imposed boundaries there for if not to be pushed?

The Certina DS Action 43mm in Black, on a grey background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Take off the strap and you'll find a screw-down case back. The outer edge is packed with information about the watch, while the centre features the iconic Certina turtle logo.

There's no display case here, but the watch is powered by the Powermatic 80 movement. That's most famously used in Certina's Swatch Group stablemate, the Tissot PRX 80

I haven't put it on a timegrapher, but the performance has been impeccable. As I'm writing this, it's running about 3 seconds ahead of time, after five days of use. Make no mistake – that's incredible. COSC-certified chronometers must sit within the range of -4/+6 seconds a day. This isn't one, but my example is comfortably within that range.

I also haven't gone diving, or really engaged in any activity to properly test the dive credentials of this watch. There's no reason to doubt it, though.

The Certina DS Action 43mm in Black, on a grey background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Is the Certina DS Action 43mm worth the money?

At just £835 in the UK, this is a whole lot of watch for the money. Whether you want a diver for your water-based exploration, or just love the aesthetic, this is a great pick. The all-black design looks great within a collection of other steel watches too, offering a nice variation.

The sub-£1,000 dive watch segment is littered with great options, though. A wealth of top brands have thrown their hat in the ring. That's great in terms of options, but it's not easy to pick out the best one for you.

I can't say for certain that this one is the right choice for you. What I can say, though, is if you're in the market for this kind of thing, it should definitely be on your list. You're getting a killer watch, with top specs. And for £835, that's a great deal.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.