When I visited the Porsche Design booth at Baselworld 2010 I was pretty amused to see the new P’6780 Diver watch cause it looked pretty familiar. In fact, just a few years ago Eterna released a watch that was almost identical, called the Eterna KonTiki Diver. I really loved about that piece and wrote about it here. Why was it that somehow the Eterna KonTiki Diver was now a simplified Porsche Design watch?
For starters you should know that Eterna makes all the watches for Porsche Design. So it seemed pretty clear that this was a deliberate move, meant to erase the history of the KonTiki Diver! If you compare the two watches, the Porsche Design P’678 Diver is a bit more simple, streamlined, and hopefully a bit less expensive. The KonTiki Diver retailed for bout $10,000. Though it had a ton of cool technology. The complex titanium case flipped out of a cage for winding and for a new position on the wrist. It just felt totally space age. Also, you needed to pull out the inner case so as to move the bezel – that while you operated from the outside, turned on the inside. Powering the the 1000 meter KonTiki Diver watch was an automatic ETA 2897 movement with the time, date, and power reserve indicator. It was pretty kick-ass. So what happened? Well apparently Eterna didn’t sell a lot of them. According to them, the watch “didn’t fit into the brand.” Most people don’t really know about Eterna, especially in the US. If they do, they likely have some vague concept of the brand’s merits, even though it is a great brand. They actually started ETA before selling it to the Swatch Group.
So the Eterna KonTiki Diver disappeared. If you want one, I am sure there are excellent deals for them online. Probably close to half off the retail price. Like I said, with the power reserve indicator, COSC Chronometer certification, and arguably a more useful dial design, I like the Eterna version a bit more. We can ponder why the over-engineered watch didn’t do super well for the brand. I think it was a sleeper hit. The reality is that the watch has now been re-birthed as a Porsche Design P’6780 – like it or not.
For the most part the watch is the same, but with little cosmetic changes. The movement is now an automatic ETA 2892, and it has not been Chronometer certified. I sort of miss the power reserve indicator. The design has been streamlined a bit. Probably better for casual wear, but worse for hardcore diving duty. The black, while, and yellow dial tones are nice, but I think the hands are a bit too stubby – make them longer! The 46.8mm wide titanium case is mixed with some steel parts, and you can see the large pushers on the side of the case to release in the inner section. These pushers are much larger than those on the Eterna KonTiki Diver. The case has also been streamlined a bit. It looks a bit less technical than the Eterna. It has that usual Porsche Design level of smooth refinement. The Eterna on the other hand looked more like an instrument. Like the KonTiki Diver, you will need to raise the inner case out of the shell to move the bezel. This is a security mechanism to ensure it doesn’t get moved around inadvertently. Raising the inner case also makes it easier to wind the movement if you like, and makes it possible to adjust the watch. The strap on the watch is a high grade caoutchouc rubber.
If you think about it, Porsche Design diver’s watches are rare. In fact, this is only the brand’s second dive watch. The first was the Ocean 2000, and that was made by IWC and came out in the early 1980s. That was a really fantastic watch actually. Of course, the Porsche Design Diver is something totally different compared to the previous diver from almost 30 years ago.
While it was perhaps smart for Eterna to salvage the KonTiki Diver by exporting it to Porsche Design, it means that the watch is not something entirely new from Porsche Design. Call it recycling, or reusing, or simply rebranding, it doesn’t really much matter if you like the watch. I hope that the retail price reflects the position of the watch though in comparison to the Eterna. While the Porsche Design name is worth more on a watch then the Eterna name, this is a slightly down-graded watch, so if they charged more than the Eterna KonTiki Diver, it just wouldn’t feel right. Look for the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watch this summer.
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