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Eterna - The 5 Best Watches From Exciting Swiss Brand

Posted on May 27 2021

The Best Eterna Swiss Watches
There is a paradox in the watch industry. Watchmaking is an innovative trade that specialises in out of date technology.

Think about that for a minute.

Watch companies are masters of innovation. But only if they're working on mechanical timepieces. These mechanical watches were surpassed by digital technology decades ago.

Eterna was one of the early Swiss innovators. They first made pocket watches, then changed to wristwatches when fashions moved on. They then weathered the storm when quartz technology threatened to kill off the mechanical watch.

They've survived each of the major upheavals.

And the business landscape they're working in is still changing. Eterna is now owned by a Hong Kong-based holding company.

So how are they doing?

They're a Swiss heritage brand now owned by the Chinese. They're making mechanical watches in a world where smartwatches are on the rise.

Let's take a closer look.

The Best Eterna Watches


I don't want to go into the company's history here. But I do want to put your mind at rest.

Eterna is still Swiss-based and their watches are still Swiss-made.

For many watch fans, that's a big deal. They cherish those two words on the bottom of the dial. Despite the change in ownership, they're still a Swiss brand.

We can come back to the details. First, I want to take you through my favourite five Eterna watches. I'll start with the one that we all love, the Eterna Kontiki.

Eterna Kontiki watch

The best watches often have the best stories behind them. The Kontiki traces its roots back to Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 KonTiki expedition.

This madcap adventure involved Thor and his team building a raft and sailing from South America to Polynesia. They were trying to prove his theory that this could have been an ancient migration route.

The six Scanivanian's on the balsawood raft all wore Eterna watches. Needless to say, the watches excelled during the treacherous 5000-mile trip.

In response, the Eterna Kontiki was born. It's the brands best-known design. And you can see why it's been so successful.

It's a stunning watch, that reminds me a little of the Zodiac Sea Wolf.

The dial is highly legible, with distinctive markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9. I like that they've repositioned the date at 4 o'clock rather than losing the 3 o'clock marker. The symmetry is important.

It's a Swiss-made automatic, with great build quality. If you're interested in Eterna, start with one of the Kontiki range.

Eterna Kontiki 1220.41.43.0268

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 23mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Eterna Super Kontiki Watch

The Kontiki range has varied over the years. In the modern stable Eterna has this gorgeous tonneau cased dive watch.

It's another model with real vintage appeal. That is reinforced by the aged-looking lume and the distressed leather strap. The watch gives the impression of being a vintage piece.

At 45mm it's quite chunky, although it's not oversized. The leather straps not only softens the look but also lightens the weight too.

As you'd expect, it has a Swiss movement - a Sellita automatic - a sapphire crystal and 200M of water resistance.

If like me, you're a fan of 1970s divers watches then this could be the Eterna model from you. It unashamedly harks back to that era and does a great job of recreating the aesthetic of the time.

Eterna Super Kontiki

  • 45mm Diameter
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Eterna Eternity Automatic Watch

As you'd expect from a Swiss heritage brand, Eterna aren't a one-trick pony. Dive watches are their strength, but it's not all that they do.

The Eternity is a classically styled dress watch. It's a straightforward model with a simple, refined look. It has a comfortable sized 40mm case and makes quite a contrast to the Kontiki.

Everything on this watch is pared down. The crown is small, the markers are small and the hands are very slim. It looks gentle.

This isn't going to be a look that everyone likes. Particularly, with modern trends favouring larger watches. But, in its own way, the Eternity references earlier watches - and that’s its strength.

This is what dress watches used to look like. Smart and dressy. They told the time, the date and slipped easily under your shirt cuffs.

If you'd like an understated Swiss-made dress watch, the Eternity is a good candidate. It's inexpensive too.

Eterna Eternity 2700.41.11.1384

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 10.5mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Eterna Heritage Watch

Eterna reference 1948 repeatedly in their marketing. It was the year that the brand released its first watch with its ball-bearing technology. They figured out a way for mechanical watches to run smoother with the use of small steel balls.

The reason I mention this is because of the Eterna logo. If you'd wondered why it consists of five balls, that's your answer.

It's great that a watch manufacturer can point to its own contribution to watchmaking history. It's even better when they incorporate it into their current range.

The Heritage 1948 model does just that. It's a slightly updated version of a watch from the brands own back catalogue.

It oozes vintage charm - although I have to warn you, it's outside what I'd usually class as an affordable watch.

Still, it deserves a closer look.

The off-white dial is a beauty and benefits from simple black numerals. The date is in the traditional 3 o'clock position and it's equipped with lance hands.

In a nod to modern tastes, the case is 40mm. Although it retains a slim profile, coming in at only 10mm thick.

This isn't a cheap watch. But it's a beautiful vintage-inspired piece that references Eterna's history of innovation.

Eterna Heritage 1948 2955.41.94.1388

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Eterna Tangaroa Watch

The Tangaroa model returns to the Kontiki theme.

This watch is named after the Tangaroa Expedition of 2006. This mission aimed to recreate Thor Heyerdahl's feat of sailing a balsa raft from Peru to Polynesia.

The crew of the Tangaroa - including Heyerdahl's grandson Olav - managed to knock 30 days off Thor's time. Eterna created this watch in tribute to the achievement.

It's a moon phase watch that is busy compared to the previous models that I've highlighted. As well as the moon phase complication, the Tangaroa has a chronograph feature.

It's powered by a Swiss-made Valjoux 7751 movement.

Where this watch is unique is its case design. Eterna selected an architect to create the case. The result is a case that doesn't have a single straight line. Instead, it flows. Something that seems fitting in a watch inspired by the sea.

It's a stunning design that demonstrates ambition and vision. It feels like Eterna is still growing as a brand and willing to try new designs and designers.

Again, it's not strictly an affordable piece. But I suspect a watch with these specs and credentials won't be available on a budget.

Eterna Tangaroa 2949.41.16.0277

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


A Brief History of Eterna Watches


Eterna is a Swiss luxury brand that traces its roots back to Switzerland in the 1850s. Eterna hails from Grenchen, the small town that is home to Breitling, Fortis and ETA.

Like most Swiss luxury watch companies, Eterna had a slow start. The company was handed down from father to son and it wasn't until 1905 that the company began using the Eterna name.

You're probably familiar with the rest of the story - it's similar to the stories of other Swiss brands like Tissot, Mido and Certina.

Eterna developed its own movements, created innovative watches and created ETA.

The major developments included the 1948 release of the Eterna-matic automatic movement. It used five ball bearings to reduce friction in the movement. It's where the current Eterna logo takes its inspiration.

It's also why you'll see 1948 referenced in the Eterna collection.

This followed the 1947 Kontiki expedition, which later led to the brand's iconic Kontiki range.

The introduction of quartz watches put a squeeze on the whole of the Swiss watch trade. By the 1980s Eterna had changed hands a couple of times and in 1999 they created a range of watches for the Porsche Design brand.

However, Eterna and Porsche Design are now both owned by the Hong Kong-based Citychamp Watch & Jewelry Group. ETA, the movement manufacturer is now part of the Swatch Group.


Where are Eterna Watches Made?


Eterna are still Swiss-based.

They have their production facilities in the small town of Grenchen. Although the brand was Swiss-owned for over 150 years, it is now Chinese owned.

But, it's important to note that the company is still headquartered in Switzerland. In the 2000s Eterna created its own calibres, including 2004s Calibre 6036 and 2006s ultra-thin Calibre 3030.

As you'll see, Eterna watches carry the Swiss-Made wording at the bottom of their dials.

Conclusion


Eterna are a Swiss heritage brand that spent many years at the forefront of watchmaking innovation.

You may not be familiar with them now.

They're not a big high street name like Breitling, a company based in the same town as Eterna. And they don't target the entry-level market that the likes of Tissot and Victorinox do.

It puts them in a difficult position and one that they hope to alter with new ownership.

So I'd recommend that you take a closer look at this brand. Some of their watches, like the Kontiki, have great backstories and compare very well against other Swiss luxury brands.

Other models - I'm thinking about the Tangaroa - have a design and complications that really set them apart.

When you've followed the links in this article, come back and let me know in the comments what you think.

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