|Reference||12126.96.36.1990, limited to 300 pieces|
|Case||44mm, all brushed bronze, case back secured with screw, sapphire crystal opening in stainless steel|
|Movement||Calibre Maison Eterna EMC 3902A, power reserve 65h, 28’800 v.p.h, 30 jewels, 1 ball bearing|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 200m / 656 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 65 hours|
|Functions||Hour, minutes, seconds|
|Bracelet||Brown waterproof leather strap with bronze pin buckle|
Eterna Does The Ceramic Bezel
When Rolex first brought out their ceramic bezel, it was a great step forward over their previous materials. Effectively indelible and fade proof, it put an end to the now wonderfully sought-after patina changing pieces of the past. The Hulk ushered in this era with its wonderful combination of green ceramic bezel and sunburst dial.
What we were also told is it was an incredibly expensive process to master, particularly so when they released the Batman to significant critical acclaim, in 2013.
So what do we make of this when a brand like Eterna, specialising in more affordable pieces, also includes this material in their bezels?
The Indiana Jones of Watches
Before we answer that question, let’s take a moment to absorb the Kontiki Bronze. Built to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Kontiki Expedition, at 44mm it’s a sizeable watch but actually wears smaller than that overbearing figure suggests, thanks to compact lugs and a neatly fitting leather strap. It is relatively thick though, at 14.05mm, which means even if it is securely strapped to your wrist, it will struggle to fit under a cuff. Clearly this is a watch for casual / outdoor use therefore, so to criticise it for this reduction in versatility would be unfair, particularly when it carries a waterproof leather strap. How many other watch manufacturers think about that?
The full bronze case, made of an alloy of copper and tin (but importantly without aluminium meaning it should be more resistant to that green tinge bronze can often suffer from) is warm and is brushed nicely to a finish, offset beautifully by that matt green ceramic bezel with bronze numbers inlaid with Super-LumiNova.
The way Eterna has differentiated the outside of the dial, not only by stick markers but also a different finish is genius. It ensures it is exceptionally easy to read in any light and the decision not to incorporate a date means it remains uncluttered and handsome. Overall it has a sharp, rugged look and I can’t help but think that, if Indiana Jones were to be reincarnated as a watch, this is what he would be.
The fact that Eterna had the courage to showcase their own movement, particularly when so many much larger manufacturers hide theirs behind solid metal is to be applauded. Of course, faults can be picked in both its aesthetics and finishing but for a watch under £3,000, to do so would be unfair and indicate a significant lack of education in the subject. An inhouse movement is very expensive to design and build, which is why Eterna has, in the past, remained faithful to Sellita movements, so taking the decision to put this new movement in their 70th anniversary model was both bold and welcomed.
Overall, the Eterna Kontiki Bronze is an exceptionally attractive timepiece that combines beautifully matched colours with a bullet proof feel, all at an absurdly good price. Indeed it’s when you look at pieces like this you start to reconsider the equivalent Rolex as a value proposition. With the Kontiki you get, as far as I can tell, all the look of a Submariner (including that ceramic bezel) just without the status of the Rolex name or the unbelievable aftersales price increase. Instead, if you are able to put these two factors aside (however significant they may be), you are able to wear a watch that says individuality and is, ultimately, so rare you are unlikely to ever see another. A triumph for the more affordable independent watch manufacturer that will reward the purchaser’s leap of faith, should they choose to take it . . .
The Eterna Kontiki Bronze is priced at 3,100CHF. Such is the demand for it that you are unlikely to see much change from that price minus local taxes on the grey market.