— Without making any revolutionary changes, Eterna is gently nudging its models towards original and softer lines, accompanied on the calibre front by a significant emergence of more in-house or Manufacture-made movements, of which there are however still too few to make them cost-effective for Eterna.
Eterna is changing category. From the company that had to jostle to make space for itself, the brand turned Manufacture is currently earning its stripes both in terms of details and subtleties. Make no mistake about it, Eterna is not dropping the public at large in favour of experienced collectors. It is maintaining its aim of providing affordable, uncompromising quality; but rather than flooding the market, Eterna is subtly refining its existing collections based on a coherent, rational approach.
Such is the case with the new Grace Open Art collection. At first glance, one might only see them as a few additional feminine models. However, a closer look reveals that Eterna is targeting nothing less than parity in terms of the gender balance of its range. “A short while ago we had an 80/20 ratio between men’s and ladies’ watches. We are now at 65/35 and parity is within reach” confirms a brand manager.
The company is certainly giving itself the means to achieve this. These new Grace Open Art models arrive on the scene as a set of nine references, steel and gold, gem-set or not. While prices remain very competitive, in a range mainly focused around the CHF 2000 mark, Eterna has not been sparing in terms of creativity. The latter is notably expressed through a particularly daring case that is all curves and waves, while offering a wide variety of potential colour and material combinations. Aside from the big groups, one would have to look to Carl F. Bucherer (Pathos) or Jeanrichard (new Terrascope 39mm) to find such creative and constantly-evolving case profiles.
Among men’s watches, it is no surprise that the KonTiki range has changed the most. Once again, there are no radical modifications, but instead a set of gentle evolutions. The Chrono GMT for example bears a discreet “Manufacture” inscription that proclaims its proud lineage. As regards the dial, Eterna’s cherished “wave” motif appears in a discreet raised pattern. The bezel is adorned with ceramic inserts that have not been seen since 2013. Finally, the “12-6-9” chronograph has now shifted to a “3-6-9” configuration and is complemented by a central-hand GMT display.
This GMT’s cousin, in the Adventic collection, is undergoing the same ‘stylistic subtlety’ treatment. While it now features a date at 3 o’clock, the newness of its exterior is most clearly apparent in the dial centre, for which Eterna has opted for a grey anthracite finish. The latter is both novel in its own right and also skilfully slots in amongst the black and white models that are already part of the collection. But that’s not all, because this colour also displays a 45” brushed finish that is unquestionably simple but nevertheless somewhat unusual. It gives the piece a subtle air that is probably perceptible only by the owner, who will note the slightly slate-type effect.
Finally, at a time when the trend is towards sharp-edged designs for virile sports watches, Eterna brings back the 1970s in its Super KonTiki, rowing against the tide by reworking the model in as round a shape as possible. New NATO straps are offered, but it is above all a new Milanese mesh that catches the eye, with a much finer weave that is therefore especially flexible.
The bezel is slimmer with a slight camber that helps it slope gently down towards the case. The hands have also been trimmed down. The base movement is unfortunately still a SW200, limited to its low 38-hour power reserve. We hope that Eterna will soon equip this historic reference with one of its in-house calibres, which mostly offer two to three days of autonomy.
For the time being, Eterna is prevented from taking this step by a simple cost issue. The brand does not yet produce enough in-house calibres to reduce the cost price. Equipping the KonTiki with an in-house calibre would make it far too expensive. The entire mission currently pursued by EMC (Eterna Movement Company, Eterna’s industrial division) is to supply as many of these movements as possible to third party companies in order to amortize the costs and thus ultimately be able to introduce them as inexpensively as possible into its own ranges.