Eterna Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973

When the Eterna Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 was launched in 2010, the Swiss brand had looked to its back catalogue and played the ‘nostalgia’ card with notable aplomb. Recently, Angus Davies had the opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with this stylish timepiece and appraise its maritime-inspired form at close quarters.

This detailed review of the Eterna Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Image of Eterna Super Kontiki Limited Edition named after Thor Heyerdahl's balsawood raft

A few weeks ago, in my native United Kingdom, I witnessed the behaviour of various politicians proclaiming the wisdom of ‘leaving’ or ‘remaining in’ the European Union. Setting aside any personal opinions on the question itself, I could not help notice some of the tactics employed by both factions of the debate. Statements were made by each side which were, at best, misleading. It therefore surprises me to hear politicians behave indignantly and plead innocence when confronted about their dishonest conduct.

Soon, the citizens of the United States of America will also have to decipher the difference between fact and fiction. Despite British politicians referring to each other as ‘honourable’, there appears to be little honour or honesty in the murky world of politics, whether in the UK or on the opposite side of the pond.

Deception is not merely the preserve of politicians. This morning, I opened a new packet of breakfast cereal. The inner bag, containing my muesli mix, occupied only 60% of the interior volume of the outer cardboard box. Moreover, my dried strawberries, proclaimed on the front of the box in Technicolor splendour were few in number. I felt duped.

Nevertheless, despite ‘honesty’ becoming an increasingly sparse quality, when I do witness it, I acknowledge it wholeheartedly. The Eterna Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 is a wonderful exemplar of honesty. Allow me to elaborate further on the various virtues of this retro 1970s inspired timepiece.

A brief explanation of the KonTiki name

The KonTiki can trace its origins to a balsawood raft used by Thor Heyerdahl and his crew of five scientists in 1947. Heyerdahl, an archaeologist and ethnologist, sailed from the coast of Peru to Polynesia. During their journey, Heyerdahl and his colleagues decided to name the raft ‘KonTiki’, referencing the Incan sun god.

Image of Eterna Super Kontiki Limited Edition named after Thor Heyerdahl's balsawood raft

Heyerdahl and his crew were wearing tough water resistance timepieces from Eterna, supplied at the time by head of the Swiss watch company, Dr Rudolf Shild-Comtesse. The watches were an essential piece of equipment, necessary for navigating the balsawood raft to its intended destination.

Ever since the 1930s, Eterna had been expending much effort, researching and designing a form of watertight watch housing capable of preventing water ingress and mitigating the ‘negative influence of temperature changes’. Despite encountering an array of hostile conditions which would harm many timepieces, the Eterna watches used by Heyerdahl and his crew survived unscathed.

In 1958, the first Eterna ‘KonTiki’ branded watch was released. Ever since, it has become renowned for its precision, robustness and resistance to water and other potentially harmful influences.

During 2010, Eterna released the Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973, a timepiece fitted with a Milanese steel bracelet and an unusually profiled case. This watch evinces a retro appearance and is produced in a limited series of 1973 pieces.

The dial

A sea of matte black deferentially sits back, according optimum contrast for the hands and dial markings to impart information with peerless clarity.

Image of Eterna Super Kontiki Limited Edition named after Thor Heyerdahl's balsawood raft

The black hour hand, rectangular in form and lined with a strip of luminescent fill, sports a prominent truncated white tip. In contrast, the minute hand, while mainly rectangular in form, employs one tone and features a triangular tip. Again, the minute hand is lined with luminescent fill, aiding legibility in restricted light. The contradistinction between the two hands confers visual interest without inhibiting ease of readability.

The white central sweep seconds hand resembles an isosceles triangle and, courtesy of its sharply pointed tip, points to the minute track with laser-like accuracy. Eterna has masterfully styled three hands of different design which harmoniously co-exist, look attractive and lucidly communicate with the wearer.

Each silver-toned, applied hour marker features white luminescent fill to its centre. Positioned in between are crisp white markings, assisting the wearer when reading the minutes and seconds.

Positioned at 3 o’clock, a date aperture reveals black numerals on a white disc. The date does not sit too deep within the case and proves simple to read.

The case

The 44mm stainless steel case is described by Eterna as ‘cambered rectangular’, personally I prefer the term ‘tonneau’. Certainly, the profile of the case does not subscribe to convention, exhibiting a charming, handsome, retro aesthetic all of its own.

Image of Eterna Super Kontiki Limited Edition named after Thor Heyerdahl's balsawood raft

The caseband is comparatively shallow and features a continuously arcing trajectory. Indeed, despite its obvious sturdiness and purposeful character, the Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 delivers numerous episodes of palpable style.

Image of Eterna Super Kontiki Limited Edition named after Thor Heyerdahl's balsawood raft

Encircling the dial is a period correct rotating bezel, adorned with alternating Arabic numerals and rectangular batons, save for noon where a prominent triangular index is presented in a vibrant orange tone. This triangular index is stylish and the only deviation from the otherwise monochrome palette used.

Image of Eterna Super Kontiki Limited Edition named after Thor Heyerdahl's balsawood raft

Eterna has elected to equip the Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 with a solid caseback, sidestepping today’s trend for exhibition casebacks. Gracing the caseback is a ‘KonTiki medallion’ and the watch’s unique number from the limited series of 1973 pieces.

The Milanese metal bracelet is supremely flexible and supplied with a safety clasp.

The movement

The ETA calibre 2894-2 delivers a dose of self-winding convenience and down to earth, proven Swiss reliability. The balance oscillates to a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz), the movement contains 37 jewels and the sole spring barrel delivers 38 hours autonomy.

Owing to the solid caseback, I am unable to pass comment on the quality of movement finishing to be found on this particular installation of the ETA calibre.

I applaud Eterna for, once again, being honest. It readily states this watch contains the ETA calibre 2894-2 and does not rebrand the movement with a meaningless contrived number to dupe the would-be buyer into thinking the movement is its own work.

Closing remarks

I recently went on record stating that my favourite complication is the chronograph and this remains the case. However, another genre of timepiece I particularly like is the diver’s watch.

A diver’s watch must tolerate an array of hostile factors which would destroy a dress watch or super complicated timepiece. Moreover, a diver’s watch has to be legible even when visibility is impaired and light is limited. While I have not worn the Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 underwater I see little reason to doubt its capacity for subaquatic use.

The Eterna Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973 does not have the greatest water resistance (200 metres) but will prove suitable for the majority of would-be wearers.

This watch is highly legible, stylish and practical. Its case feels robust and the Milanese bracelet proves very easy on the eye. Powered with an ultra-reliable ETA calibre 2894-2 and offered at a very agreeable price of £1,790 (RRP as at 4.9.2016), this timepiece delivers an array of virtues and a notable honesty, sadly lacking in some areas of life.

Technical specification

  • Model: Eterna Super KonTiki Limited Edition 1973
  • Reference: 1973.41.41.1230
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44mm; height 13.7mm; water resistant to 20 bar (200 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date.
  • Movement: ETA calibre 2894-2, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 37 jewels; power reserve 38 hours.
  • Bracelet: Flexible mesh bracelet with diver’s extension and safety clasp.
  • Price: £1,790 (RRP as at 4.9.2016)
  • Limited Edition: 1973 pieces

Related Links