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Eterna - Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

Eterna Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

A bronze watch, particularly a diving watch, deserves a test under real-life conditions. So it was off to the Caribbean to conduct some field testing on one of the 300 Kontiki Bronze watches by Eterna.

Eterna, Oris and Eberhard & Co. are among the last independent watchmaking companies that remain modest in size, and whose goodwill capital among collectors remains intact. They all boast over a hundred years’ heritage, and historical collections that are made with care and competitively priced. Some will say that’s not much to boast of. But it’s absolutely vital.

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Evan Müller

Rule of three

Since 1856, Eterna has never once deviated from this path. So, when the company launched a new version of the Kontiki, it was definitely worth more than a second glance. Why? Three reasons. First, because for the time being it is the only Eterna reference in bronze; a rare item that you are highly unlikely ever to spot on someone else’s wrist. Next, because it has a manufacture movement, a rare luxury for such a small independent watchmaker.

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

And finally, because it is part of a limited series (300 pieces), dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Kontiki expedition (crossing of the Pacific on a raft). But how would this new reference fare in its natural element – the sea? To find out, we took it to the Caribbean.

Bronzed and beautiful

That was where WorldTempus put it to the test. So let’s get straight to the point: what we really wanted to test was the bronze case, to see how it would react to salt water. All bronzes react differently, depending on whether or not they have been stabilised. The Kontiki has, but not 100%. In fact, the case did develop a patina, but very little of the coloration known as verdigris, which is what happens to bronze when it comes into contact with salt. It’s a type of superficial oxidisation. The Kontiki in fact became duller and more matt.

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

The patina is not uniform, and that’s what gives it its unique charm. The weathering is more pronounced on the most exposed surfaces of the watch (lugs and bezel) and more subtle in other areas, like the crown. The pin buckle even acquired a sort of marbled finish, almost as if a wave had crashed onto it and frozen in place!

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

A world in motion

It’s good to be able to view the movement through the transparent caseback, which boasts a depth rating of 200 metres. At those depths, many brands prefer a screw-down back, which presents less risk of leaks. But not Eterna, which took the opportunity to show off its manufacture calibre (3902A, 65-hour power reserve).

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

Most of the workings are hidden by the bridges, which are decorated with a circular satin-brushed finish. There are two openings, however: the first for the escapement and the second for the ratchet and crown wheel that comprise the winding mechanism. Clearly, Eterna’s priority is to highlight the moving parts of the calibre, those that draw the eye and bring the movement to life.

No decompression limits

On the dial side, legibility is entirely as one would expect in a nautical watch, with broad index markers indicated by hands generously coated with SuperLumiNova. Then there’s the highly unusual unidirectional bezel, which adds to the unique design of this Kontiki Bronze. It frames the dial with a no-decompression-limits scale, indicating the maximum dive time at a given depth before the wearer will have to calculate their decompression stops, which provides divers with a useful backup to their diving computers.

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

One final detail: because of the darkness of the Kontiki’s dial, with its granite-textured finish and black bezel, it appears relatively narrow, and its 44 mm diameter could easily pass for 42 mm or less. That’s a significant advantage for those who would never have considered a watch bigger than 42 mm – until now, that is. And at under 3,000 francs/euros, you can afford to treat yourself.

Real-life test: Eterna Kontiki Bronze (048/300)

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

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