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Eterna KonTiki Sport – Some impressions

I've been thinking about putting together some thoughts about the KonTiki since I received it in trade in September, and this seemed like an opportune moment to do so. When it was offered to me as a trade, I did some digging around on the web and found very little discussion or comment about the watch, so I decided that I would try and remedy the situation a little once time permitted.



I should start by pointing out that I am not the original owner of this watch (I am at least the third owner), and this particular piece dates from 2003. It is therefore not the same as reviewing a brand new piece before it has seen some wear in the real world.

I am not going to be comparing the watch to other divers watches at the same kind of price, simply because I don't and haven't owned them to compare with. I'll probably make some comparisons with Omega along the way, because that is the most expensive manufacturer whose products I am familiar with.



First the specs (mostly lifted from the Eterna website):

Name: Eterna KonTiki Sports Watch (Stainless Steel)
Reference: 1590.41.40.0215
Movement: Automatic movement Eta 2824, Swiss Made, Eterna specific rotor, hand decorated, blued screws.
Watch case: Case in stainless steel with rotating flange; domed, anti-reflection-coated and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal; back with impressed gold KonTiki medallion; screw-locked crown; water-resistant to 200 m. Diameter 41.4mm (without crown) and height 13mm.
Dial & Hands: Black dial; central hours, minutes and seconds hands; index marks and hands, partially coated with Superluminova; date window at 3 o’clock.
Band: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp and diver's extension. Lug width is 22mm, with the clasp tapering to 20mm.
Price: The October 2005 price list I have quotes CHF 4900, which is approximately £2,070, $3,845 or €3,075.

The Eterna KonTiki Sports watch is produced each year in a limited edition of 250 in steel, 50 in rose gold and 50 in yellow gold. Mine is from the 2003 series, and the original purchase receipt shows that it was sold in December 2003, it is numbered 115/250 on the back of the watch.

Fairly obviously, Eterna markets this watch as a high-end sports watch, and the marketing leans to some extent on the connection with the expedition of Thor Heyerdahl in 1947, of which more can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kon_tiki While it has a divers elapsed time bezel, it isn't a tool watch, and really isn't intended for working divers in my opinion.

Packaging:
Packaging isn't a particulalry big thing for me, but the Eterna has a very nice set-up (sorry, no pics). There is a heavy, white card box with the Eterna logo on the lid, which contains a high-gloss finish brown wooden box (very nicely made and highly polished), the interior of which is finished in white leather. It all feels reassuringly expensive.

In terms of documentation, there is a limited edition certificate, worldwide warranty booklet and instruction manual. Again, nice stuff and makes you feel your money has been well spent.

Overall, the quality of the packaging and documentation is, I would say, similar or maybe a bit better than that provided by Omega with a similarly priced watch.



Case & Bezel:
The case is Stainless Steel, with a beatifully domed Sapphire crystal, which is double AR coated. Notably, the bezel is internal to the watch, but is designed to be operated in the normal way without the use of an additional crown (as in the Glycine Lagunare, for example). The casework is of superb quality and is heavy and solid with crisp, precise edges throughout. The finish over the whole watch is lightly brushed, and is applied evenly all over for a very pleasing effect.





The internal bezel is an extremely unusual feature, and relies on a patented gasket system to maintain its 200m Water Resistance. The bezel is rotated anti-clockwise in the normal way with the serrations at the edge, the crystal rotates with the bezel. There is no ratcheting, but there is enough resistance to ensure that the bezel is difficult to move accidentally.

The crown is of good size (about 6.5mm across), screws down securely (takes about two full turns), and is signed with the Eterna logo (five balls on a black background in this case). The signing of the crown gives it an unusual look that I rather like!





As you can see, the lugs turn down quite distinctly, which contributes well to its comfort on the wrist (of which more later), and the curvature of the domed crystal is quite clear. These views also show handily the thickness and solidity of the bracelet and clasp, again of which more later.

The back of the KonTiki is dominated by the inset gold medallion engraved with the impression of the raft Kon-Tiki from Thor Heyerdahl's expedition.



Engraved on the back is:

Eterna
KonTiki
Eterna-Matic
200m Water Resistant
Limited Edition 115/250 MMIII

Overall, the construction of the case is of extremely high quality. My watch is a few years old, and the outer AR coating on the crystal has developed some scratches, but they aren't partcularly visible in normal wear. The bezel system is interesting, although it is unclear what real advantage it offers over a more traditional system. Yes, the bezel is protected by the crystal, but at the cost of greater complexity. It works fine, although the serrations are a little narrow (they are less than 2mm deep) for an entirely easy grip.

Dial & Hands:
The inclusion of an internal bezel means that initial impressions of the watch are dominated by a dial that appears to be 35mm across!



Actually, the dial itself is approximately 27mm across, with numerals at 12, 6 and 9 and a date display at 3. The numerals and other markers are lumed, and have silvered surrounds, which helps for legibility as they reflect light in dim conditions. A silvered ring marks the edge of the bezel, and another sits inside the markers, both of which catch the light under the right conditions and look very classy.

The dial has the five metal ball bearings of the Eterna logo inserted into recesses in the dial, something I wasn't really able to catch in this photo terribly well:



The printing on the dial is clear and crisp. This is quite a blown-up macro shot, and it still looks pretty good to me!



As you can see, printed on the dial is:

KonTiki
Eterna-Matic
Officially Certified Chronometer

Swiss Made is printed under the 6.

The hands are perhaps a little on the small side, and are silvered with lumed inserts (the seconds hand is lumed at its tip). The hour and minute hand are clearly distinguishable from one another, with the minute hand exactly reaching the minute hashes around the dial, and the hour hand just touching the silvered insert around the dial centre.



The lume is, I assume, Super Luminova, and has been applied sufficiently to produce a decent glow, and after charging up it is visible through the night, although it isn't in the same league as an Omega Seamaster.

The one minor gripe I have with the dial is that the lume on the hour hand on mine is somewhat unevenly applied, meaning the hour hand glows a touch less than the minute hand and markers. The difference isn't especially noticeable, but is just visible in this shot:



Movement & Accuracy:
The movement is the workhorse ETA2824-2, modified with an Eterna specific rotor, hand decorated and chronometer certified. I haven't had the back off to look at it, and I have no intention of doing so! Timekeeping is within Chronometer specs, at about +5 per day, which is just fine.

Bracelet:
The bracelet is absolutely superb.



The lug width is 22mm, and the bracelet tapers down to 20mm at the clasp. It is fully solid, 4mm thick with SEL and held together with screws (attached to the case with spring bars). The clasp appears to have been hewn from a solid lump of steel and incorporates a divers extension (and is engraved with Eterna and the logo).





The clasp is easily the equal of that on modern Omega Seamasters and Speedmasters (which is rightly admired I think) and is opened by a twin pusher operation. There is thought in my mind that it might come open accidentally.

Overall, the only thing that lets the bracelet down at all is that the clasp incorporates no fine adjustment, meaning that the bracelet can only be sized by mixing full and half links as appropriate.

Comfort:
Despite being a reasonably large (41.4mm) and heavy watch (around 145g when sized for my 6.75" wrist), it sits very comfortably on the wrist. This is quite a large part due to the lug design as commented earlier in this review, it means the watch head hugs the wrist nicely.





Yes, I know that second pic is taken on my right wrist (I pretty much always wear my watch on the left), but I wanted to show the lug curvature from both sides!



The crown does not dig into the wrist at all, and I tend to wear my watches reasonably loose when on a bracelet.

On a side note, I like to swap straps on watches, and this has been no exception. It is probably the easiest watch I've had to switch bracelets on, simply because the holes in the lugs are very close to the bottom of the lugs.

While the bracelet is great on the KonTiki, the watch head does stand on it's own, here it is on a black rubber strap:



I wore it several times like that, and it looked really good! Here it is on a black sharkskin (from Don Ginsler):



I find the KonTiki comfortable to wear for several days at a time (including through the night), which gives it a big thumbs up from me in the comfort stakes!

Conclusions:
Well, it has been about a month and a half since I received the KonTiki in trade. I traded for an Omega Aqua Terra Chronograph, which was a great watch I just wasn't wearing, and I'm still happy with the trade. This is a great watch. It isn't a tool diver, it's a high-end sports watch, and for me that's something it does extremely well. It's solid, tough and fabulously well made, while looking classy and distinctive on the wrist without being too pretty. It's a practical watch, but not really a working watch, if you get my meaning.

Positives: Build quality, comfort, bracelet

Negatives: Lack of find adjustment on bracelet clasp, uneven lume on hour hand

I'm very impressed with the KonTiki (as you might be able to tell), and it has made me look at other models in the Eterna range, both current and past, as future purchases. It certainly makes me think that Eterna is a company that deserves more notice than they get these days!

 

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Great read Dave!...I thoroughly enjoyed that mate
And the Eterna's are a wicked watch no matter what way you look at it , and also very underated IMO.
 

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A very fine review, Dave.|>

I like this model very much, although I think it is a tad pricey. But why Eterna limits the steel version to 250/year is beyond me - not that it matters anyway as, incredibly, Eterna has no sales operation whatsoever in the US.<|

And the bracelet does indeed look "absolutely superb.":)

Great watch!
 

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Thanks Dave for the detailed review and fantastic pictures of a brand and watch that doesn't get talked about much anymore. After Eterna decided to go with the internal bezel design and raised their price (and lowered production) comments about their new line just about dried up completely, which is understandable given the circumstances. Since I didn't have the opportunity to get the older version of this diver when it was new I have been contemplating buying the new one but I was worried that Eterna might have lowered their build quality standards, since they were not marketing them aggressively. In fact, in the USA, they don't even have an outlet anymore. There was one in California which was also associated with Porsche Design, I talked to them a few times and when I called back to buy they no longer existed! So it made me a little leery and I wondered if the quality had changed. But I see that it hasn't, although obviously they are producing fewer watches. I should mention that when I did get someone from Porsche Design on the phone they mentioned that they were handling warranty and other repairs and that they regularly serviced Eternas that were 50 years old and even older, and they commented that the watchmakers felt the quality was quite high given their price range. So I wanted one but didn't feel I could take the step unless I heard more about their current quality of manufacturing. Obviously, they are still the same brand quality-wise, just working at a reduced level. For some reason this brand gets lost in the mix even though they are the original owner of the ETA movement maker (they sold off this division some years ago, which I bet they regret now because ETA is still one of the most used movement brands in mechanical watches today). In any case, Mike, thank you for writing such a detailed review of this little talked about brand, I for one really appreciate it. :)
 

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:thanks Dave , that was a very informative , enjoyable read.
I must say, I really admire you for that trade, I think you received a beautiful watch, yes you say it may not be a tool diver, but it looks like it could take anything, from the solid case and domed crystal, the bracelet is thick and it means business. I may agree that the hands may be a tad skinny- but I really look at hands seriously when I buy and I still think that combo is awesome, for the lume not a big deal. I think IMHO that you have a super watch that wears well in all occasions, the bezel is so individual- sets it apart, and the dial is so clean, way to go!:-!
I liked your pics, good job and thanks for that info on a watch that is deserving. Iwish their prices weren't so high.:-(

Regards
 

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Thanks for a great, thorough, review Dave that you obviously put a lot of thought and time into!
I must say, if you're the 3rd. owner of that watch, the first 2 took tremendous care of it! Looks mint.
I really like the looks of it but I think they could have put just a bit of color into the dial somewhere for my taste.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the comments, folks! :-!

I enjoyed writing this, Eterna are definitely a brand that deserve more attention today, although I have to agree that this is probably a bit on the pricey side.

3hospitals, you're right, it is a tough watch that could take a beating if it had to. I characterise the difference from a pure tool watch in that a tool watch looks like it would probably relish the beating :)
 
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Dave E said:
Thanks for the comments, folks! :-!

I enjoyed writing this, Eterna are definitely a brand that deserve more attention today, although I have to agree that this is probably a bit on the pricey side.

3hospitals, you're right, it is a tough watch that could take a beating if it had to. I characterise the difference from a pure tool watch in that a tool watch looks like it would probably relish the beating :)
Dave, a splendid review and an absolute model of what a forum review should be. Many thanks.

I have the previous (I think) KonTiki model, which I'm very fond of.

I'm in the U.S., where there is no Eterna distribution.
Latvia, Russia, and Bulgaria, of course, do have dealers to sell to customers. [!]
If I wanted to acquire a model like yours new, how might I go about it?

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
redstart said:
I'm in the U.S., where there is not Eterna distribution.
Latvia, Russia, and Bulgaria, of course, do have dealers to sell to customers. [!]
If I wanted to acquire a model like yours new, how might I go about it?
Thanks for that, Red :)

To be honest, I don't know how you'd get one new (there isn't a dealer in the UK either). The Eterna website at www.eterna.ch gives dealer locations and addresses worldwide, and I'm guessing you'd have to reach one of them and buy internationally.
 

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An outstanding review of a great watch! Thank you for your contribution! |>
 
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Dave E said:
Thanks for that, Red :)

To be honest, I don't know how you'd get one new (there isn't a dealer in the UK either). The Eterna website at www.eterna.ch gives dealer locations and addresses worldwide, and I'm guessing you'd have to reach one of them and buy internationally.
Well, I just found that skw.net has them on offer. Must investigate.

http://www.skw.net/series.php?serie=KONTIKI+AUTOMATIC+CHRONOMETER+DIVER%26%23180%3BS+WATCH+SERIES&brand=ETERNA

Wonder how much the gold case model goes for. [I shouldn't be thinking such naughty thoughts.]
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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Dave E said:
Good prices there! The price list I have gives the rose gold (18 karat) version as CHF 12,900! The bezel on the gold ones is 1-12 rather than a divers version.
Amazing how a price like that makes you turn to other matters!

To see another bit of Eterna DNA in the diver lines, here's a 500m one with a pretty high-class connection: Pininfarina. And the price is attractive.

http://www.chrono24.com/web/de/hersteller/u/e/eterna/1210687.htm
 

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When I did some digging a while back a Canadian AD called Swiss Elegance said that they would be happy to ship to the US. Of course, no chance to try before you buy, and then there is the question of import taxes. Their phone: + 905-755-0088.
 

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redstart said:
Well, I just found that skw.net has them on offer. Must investigate.

http://www.skw.net/series.php?serie=KONTIKI+AUTOMATIC+CHRONOMETER+DIVER%26%23180%3BS+WATCH+SERIES&brand=ETERNA

Wonder how much the gold case model goes for. [I shouldn't be thinking such naughty thoughts.]
Redstart--I don't think you want to buy from these guys, there are plenty of references to them not shipping watches, not responding to status requests, etc. The price is right I agree, but I wouldn't buy from them. There is a Canadian Dealer who will acquire the watch and get it to you in two weeks--you can find a reference to them on the Eterna website. Good luck.
 
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lordsinclair said:
When I did some digging a while back a Canadian AD called Swiss Elegance said that they would be happy to ship to the US. Of course, no chance to try before you buy, and then there is the question of import taxes. Their phone: + 905-755-0088.
haakon59 and lordsinclair, thanks for the tip. I would not have approached the Internet dealer without checking references first, so your tip has saved me a lot of research.

I'll mark down Swiss Elegance. Seems they're in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb. I'll be up there before the end of the year. The Eterna website currently shows only one North American dealer/distributor, in Canada:

Royal Mercantile Inc.
A-12 1250 Eglinton Ave W.
Suite 347
L5V1N3
Mississauga, ON
[email protected]
001647 724 9038
001905 755 0193

But that entity seems no longer to exist, as far as I can tell. The website is perhaps not up to date?
 

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redstart said:
haakon59 and lordsinclair, thanks for the tip. I would not have approached the Internet dealer without checking references first, so your tip has saved me a lot of research.

I'll mark down Swiss Elegance. Seems they're in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb. I'll be up there before the end of the year. The Eterna website currently shows only one North American dealer/distributor, in Canada:

Royal Mercantile Inc.
A-12 1250 Eglinton Ave W.
Suite 347
L5V1N3
Mississauga, ON
[email protected]
001647 724 9038
001905 755 0193

But that entity seems no longer to exist, as far as I can tell. The website is perhaps not up to date?
When I checked the Canadian guys out (after finding the California distributor had closed) they didn't answer e-mails but they did answer the phone, but this was around a year ago. At that time they told me they had no problem shipping to the US. Things might have changed since then, of course. I would advise you try getting them on the phone before giving up. And as I mentioned before, it appears the SKW people are not honest. When I checked them out and their partner too (Time to Time I believe is the name) they had legions of people who didn't get their watches or who received obviously used pieces. I did get an e-mail from one guy saying that he bought an Omega Seamaster from them and he actually got his watch. Ownership supposedly is British but their FAX number is New Jersey. I think your best bet is calling the dealer in Canada. If not, you can probably find dealers in Switzerland and Germany. Good luck and please post if you find success and let us know who we can buy from.
 
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haakon59 said:
... I think your best bet is calling the dealer in Canada. If not, you can probably find dealers in Switzerland and Germany. Good luck and please post if you find success and let us know who we can buy from.
I sure will. Perhaps I can accelerate the timing of that trip to Toronto -- the snows will be upon us very soon. (Où sont les neiges and all that.)
 

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Great review! Sounds like an impressive watch!!!
 
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