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The history of Eterna: 1948 - Present Day

Following the ball-bearing mounted rotor innovation, Eterna kept improving its automatic movement, first miniaturising it so that it could function also in ladies’ watches of much smaller sizes, then making it slimmer.

The result of this work was the smallest automatic winding calibre in the world that powered the Eterna-matic Golden Heart for Ladies, so called for the 23-carat gold inertia mass guaranteeing excellent winding power for the rotor, despite its small size. Design, technology as well as the endorsement of worldwide famous actresses like Gina Lollobrigida and Brigitte Bardot contributed to make of this model a worldwide success.


Advertisement of the Golden Heart model with Gina Lollobrigida as a testimonial - 1950s


That same year, Eterna introduced a watch that will become a classic of the Grenchen watchmaker, the KonTiki. This waterproof watch was designed to commemorate the expedition of archaeologist and ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl which in 1947, together with five other scientists, set out from the Peruvian coast into the Pacific Ocean on a simple raft made of balsa wood named after Kon-Tiki, an Incan sun god. With his mission, Heyerdahl wanted to prove that it would have been technically possible for the pre-Columbian Indians of South America to reach Polynesia with the help of the Humboldt Current and the Passat wind. With Eterna watches on their wrists, the six explorers completed their mission and reached the Raroia atoll in Polynesia after 101 days and nights of journey.


Advertisement of the KonTiki model - 1958


In 1962, the Eterna-matic Dato 3000 established a new record as the slimmest wristwatch in the world with automatic winding and date display. The movement was just 3.6 mm thick.

The retirement of Rudolf Schild-Comtesse in 1971 came in challenging times for the Swiss watch industry due to the incumbent quartz crisis. At the helm of Eterna (and ETA) since 1932 and often referred to as "Der Uhrenpatron", Schild-Comtesse left a mark not only in Eterna but in the entire watch industry working on the board of the category association, creating  watchmaking schools and building his own foundation to promote cultural activities.

In the following years, Eterna - like other watchmakers such as Certina, Longines, Mido, Oris, Rado and Rotary - joined the multinational General Watch Co. group (GWC), then regaining its autonomy a few years later under the wings of Swiss industrialist Franz Wassmer which integrated  the brand in his group.

As electronic watches rose to prominence in the 1970's, Eterna introduced its first quartz watch in 1974 and, in 1980, set a new record for the slimmest watch of all times with the Linea Museum quartz watch, measuring a mere 0.98mm in thickness.

Eterna Museum quartz, the slimmest watch of all times - 1980


The «Grand Prix Triomphe de l’Excellence Européenne” award received that same year was a deserved acknowledgement of Eterna’s contribution to the influence of Europe in the rest of the world.

After joining the Prof. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche's F. A. P. Beteiligungs GmbH ("Porsche Design") group in 1995, the two brands will be tightly linked with Eterna producing all Porsche Design branded timepieces.

Powered by the 800-parts Calibre 6036, the Porsche Design Indicator chronograph introduced at Baselworld 2004 was the first chronograph to feature mechanical digital hour and minute counters.

In 2009 ball bearings were, once again, used for the creation of another innovative movement, the hand-wound Spherodrive. In this case, seven ball bearings were used for the two spring barrels as well as for the date changing assembly and the power reserve display. Thanks to the reduced need for lubrication, the overall movement durability and reliability was greatly improved.

Eterna Spherodrive hand-wound movement - 2009


The Calibre 39 project, started in 2007 and presented to the public in 2013, represents a solid foundation for future developments.

In fact, this uniquely engineered calibre, created with the same dimensions of the ETA 7753, can be combined with eight modules to create 88 different movement versions.

The Calibre 39 base movement and, below, one of the 88 possible versions, an automatic chronograph movement with column wheel (calibre 3916A)
 

With the solid backing of the Chinese Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Ltd, which bought the company in 2011 from Porsche Design, Eterna can continue to fully express its vocation for the in-house development and manufacturing of advanced mechanical movements and precision timepieces.

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Page 1: 1856 - 1948  |  Page 2: 1948 - Present Day       

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Time and Watches | The watch blog: The history of Eterna: 1948 - Present Day
The history of Eterna: 1948 - Present Day
Time and Watches | The watch blog
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