By Pioneers for Pioneers
The Watch Quote™ - February 19th, 2006
Eterna KonTiki Diver: By Pioneers for Pioneers…
Divers have to be able to rely on their equipment; otherwise they are placing their health and possibly their lives in jeopardy. Part of this equipment is a diver’s watch, which tells them how long they have been underwater and how long their air reserves in their tanks will last. With the KonTiki Diver, Eterna has developed a professional tool for the wrist that fulfills the highest demands for function and design.
Progressive Case Concept
Eterna reexamined the functionality of a diver’s watch from the ground up. The concept for the case was at the center of the KonTiki Diver development. The designers took a technically sensible approach by separating the two functions, watch movement protection and wrist attachment, completely from each other. The mechanical movement is sealed watertight in a so-called container, which is securely anchored to the bridge. The rubber strap, with a double-folding clasp and wet-suit extension, fastens the system tightly to the wrist. The uncompromising search for functional design resulted – almost incidentally – to a truly innovative case design that looks great in and out of the water.
A technical highlight – and a real safety plus – is the hinged lid mechanism that links the container and the bridge. The way it works in practice is that the diver folds the container out of the bridge before he begins the dive after unlocking it by pressing two spring-loaded buttons. Then he sets his diving time on the dual-direction rotating bezel, which can be easily read from the inside flange without risk of parallax error. By locking the container into the bridge, the bezel is secured against possible unintentional rotation. This is the only iteration of this unique solution for this safety-critical mechanism until now. Standard diver’s watches do not have a locking diving bezel and therefore are made to turn only in a counterclockwise direction. This means that any unintentional rotation of the bezel shows longer diving time than actually transpired and the diver has to break off the dive earlier than necessary.
Sealing System from the Automobile Industry
Eterna has intelligently combined the advantages of a conventional rotating bezel with an interior diving ring, because the diving ring is not adjusted with a crown but rather with a rotating bezel. This means that divers can easily adjust this even when wearing wetsuit gloves and the time adjustments on the minute circle stay reliably protected under the four-millimeter thick domed sapphire-glass crystal. This was made possible through an innovative technology transfer. On the KonTiki Diver, the rotating components, in other words the bezel and the winding stem, are sealed with shaft seals. Such seals are used to seal the crankshaft in an automobile engine or the shafts in the transmission. In cooperation with highly efficient suppliers, Eterna miniaturized this system for the watch industry. This made it possible to build a watch without a screw-down crown that is watertight down to 1000 meters.
The crown is ten millimeters in diameter and is deeply fluted to make it possible for a diver to wind the watch movement underwater with his gloves on if necessary; however, this should rarely be necessary since the watch has an automatic winder and a power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock on the dial. Pulling out the crown located at 12 o’clock – to operate the second-hand stop and adjust the time – is only possible if the container is lifted up. In order to guarantee the greatest possible precision and reliability, Eterna installs a chronometer-tested automatic movement.
A diver’s watch must absolutely be easy to read under any light conditions. The black dial of the KonTiki Diver with its large white numbers and wide hour and minute hands makes sure this is possible. The hands, numbers, and the raised index marks are treated with glowing superluminova to improve readability in the dark. The same treatment was used in the minute marks on the diving bezel.
A Modern Watch with a Great Heritage
Eterna paid close attention to robustness and functionality in the selection of materials and the processing. The bridge and rotating bezel are stainless steel as are the screwed strap horns. The engineers decided to use black, PVD-coated titanium for the construction of the container to save weight while not compromising stability. The case-back bears the KonTiki medallion commemorating the historic origins of this watch line. In 1947, the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia on a raft of prehistoric design named after the sun god of the original inhabitants of Peru: KonTiki. During this 8000 kilometer adventurous ocean journey, Heyerdahl wore an Eterna – a watchmaking masterpiece built by pioneers for pioneers.
Since 1856, Eterna has stood for the manufacture of high-quality, mechanical watches. In its long history, Eterna has introduced many important industry developments as one of the pioneers of the art of watchmaking. Among the revolutionary innovations to come out of Eterna are the ball-bearing mounted rotor for hand-wound movements and the chronograph with mechanical digital stopwatch indicator. This traditional brand today belongs to Ferdinand A. Porsche and is thus one of the last major manufacturers anywhere in the world that is still not part of a major group. Eterna is also the manufacturer of the highly successful Porsche Design watch collection under license from Porsche Design.