Eterna this week debuts a bronze-cased timepiece to mark the 70th anniversary of KonTiki, Thor Heyerdahl’s famed cross-Pacific expedition. About a decade after the Norwegian explorer made his journey in 1947 with five Eterna timepieces on board his minimally equipped raft, this Swiss watchmaker launched a watch bearing the KonTiki name.
This year, for the first time, Eterna endows the KonTiki with a bronze case and in a 44mm limited edition of 300 pieces.
In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of bronze cases introduced into watch collections, but given the specific nautical nature of the KonTiki heritage, Eterna’s entry seems right on target. Bronze resists salt water and thanks to its ability to oxidize and create a greenish/brown copper oxide layer (patina) the case is protected from the elements.
Of course, given Eterna’s rich history in the development of the modern automatic movement it also is appropriate that this watch is equipped with a version of Eterna’s own in-house Caliber 39. Eterna’s role in watchmaking history culminates in 1948 when the brand revolutionized the automatic movement by equipping it with a rotor that turned on ball bearings. Named the Eterna-Matic, the system has become a standard feature in automatic movements today. (You can read more about Eterna movements here: eterna.com.
The Caliber 39 inside this watch features Eterna’s own 2006 update of that rotor technology, which replaces steel ball bearings with ceramic ball bearings, a development dubbed Spherodrive. Calibre 39 is now the base movement for more than eighty-eight different Eterna movement references.
The KonTiki Bronze Manufacture features a black granite-patterned dial with triangular luminescent hour markers. Its quite bold unidirectional rotating bezel frames the dial with a decompression gauge. The bezel markers do not indicate time under water, but rather the amount of time a diver can spend at a particular depth before he or she will need to decompress.
Fortunately, a buyer of this watch will not have to gasp for breath due to a high price tag: Each watch in this 300-piece limited edition will sell for a more-than-reasonable $2,650.
Specifications: Eterna KonTiki Bronze Manufacture
Caliber Maison Eterna 3902A, 65-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph, with hours, minutes, seconds
44mm brushed bronze, 14.05mm thick, rotating black ceramic bezel, case back secured with screw down case back in stainless steel. Sapphire crystal opening
Scratch-resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal
STRAP & CLASP
Waterproof brown leather strap, bronze pin buckle