May 4, 2017
by Ariel Adams
At Baselworld 2017, Eterna debuted a new limited-edition version of an also new collection of KonTiki dive watches for the 70th anniversary of the famed ocean adventure of Thor Heyerdahl on the craft called the KonTiki. The limited-edition Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Bronze (debuted here) might be similar at a glance to the non-limited new KonTiki Diver Gent, but it is different in just about all respects. It has a distinct dial, strap, case, and even movement. Moreover, it is Eterna’s first dive watch in bronze, a popular metal these days in watches, and particularly well-suited to dive watches given the natural corrosion-resistance properties of the ancient metal alloy.
The Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Bronze (reference 12220.127.116.112) watch was a hit of the Baselworld 2017 show for those who discovered this lovely timepiece. It earned a spot on our list of the top 10 watches of Baselworld 2017 for its combination of aesthetics, materials, and sheer wearability. Eterna has played around with KonTiki watch designs over the years, with the most recent ones very much looking like the vintage models, but in modern form. What I like about the Eterna KonTiki is that it has a timeless appeal to it which hearkens back to “simpler times,” but it also has character. There are a lot of modern dive watches which aren’t elegant enough for more formal attire, and there are plenty of vintage-style dive watches that lack a coherent personality. For my tastes, the KonTiki is the right blend of character and timeless style. I have plenty of modern-looking dive watches that I like, and the KonTiki is among the vintage styles that I earnestly appreciate.
At 44mm wide, the bronze case (steel caseback) is water resistant to 200 meters. I should note that it has an exhibition caseback which allows for a view of the movement – something important in a watch with “Manufacture” in the title, implying that the movement is made in-house. At 14.5mm thick, there is a nice substantial feel to the Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Bronze, and given the thickness of the movement, this watch is actually thicker than the also new-for-2017 steel-cased Eterna KonTiki Diver Gent. The latter is thinner at 12.2mm thick, meaning that the KonTiki Manufacture Bronze model is 2.3mm thicker. Both are water resistant to 200 meters.
The added size of the Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Bronze seems to go with the overall bold theme of the watch. Over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal which offers a view into the deep dial which with the large, applied hour markers makes for a nice view. Especially against the textured dark gray face (that Eterna calls “granite-patterned”). I really can’t say enough how much I appreciate it when brands think to make watch dials interesting in this way. On a watch like the Eterna KonTiki we have three-dimensionality, multiple materials, several colors, and various textures. All without any of them looking out of place. Furthermore, the dial design doesn’t remind you of anything else out there.
Bronze is a trendy case material, and in some sense I am getting sick of all the “me too” bronze watches that we see on the market. I have a few bronze watches myself and enjoy them, but I think it is really best suited for the right watch design. No one needs a large collection of bronze pieces amongst their watches. I think Eterna’s KonTiki Manufacture in bronze is one of the better ones, but I say all this to warn people about possible oversaturation of this trend. Bronze is mostly valued because of its look, slight similarity to gold, and the fact that it lends itself well to a bit of an “aged modern vintage” look.
Around the dial is a grippy, prominent rotating diver’s bezel that again pulls inspiration from a historic Eterna KonTiki watch. Rather than having a standard 60-minute counter scale on the bezel, the watch features a “No Decompression Limits” scale on the rotating bezel. This is meant to indicate the maximum amount of time that can be spent at certain depths before the need to decompress. I’ll admit that I haven’t closely studied how the bezel works. I believe it works in tandem with rotating it and the dial markers, but I haven’t been briefed on this feature. Eterna reminds us that it is a “handy backup to a modern diving computer,” which I think I can agree with.
The bezel material itself is matte dark gray ceramic. I like the fact that there are no fully black tones on the watch, which helps give it personality. The numerals on the bezel are cut into the ceramic bezel and then filled in with luminant paint.
Inside the watch is the Eterna “manufacture” caliber 3902A automatic movement. The movement is visible through the rear of the case via the sapphire crystal display window, and it operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a nice 65 hours of power reserve. Watch nerds will love that Eterna chose not to include a date complication on the dial, offering a nice, clean, symmetrical look. I think they made the right decision there – especially as the limited-edition nature of this watch will have it be appealing to mostly enthusiasts. The movement decoration isn’t bad either.
Before I can love the style of a dive watch, I must first love its legibility and comfort – both of which garner praise in the Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Bronze. It’s a handsome, classically-themed dive watch in a modern skin with a trendy look. Even the strap is meant to be fashionable, with its aged-looking brown leather style (on a matching bronze buckle). Eterna nevertheless reminds us that it too has been specially treated in order to be water resistant – to ensure that this is a real diving watch. I am not sure if Eterna includes an additional strap, but a rubber strap (for more serious in-water use) might be nice to get as an accessory for this piece. Last, while this is not a budget watch, the price seems fair (just to add, it costs about $1,000 more than the non-limited steel version that has a Sellita SW200 movement in it). This particular Eterna KonTiki Manufacture Bronze watch will be available as a limited edition of 300 pieces – with a price of $2,950. eterna.com