Review of Eterna KonTiki GMT/World Timer

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Model # 1593 41 40 0215

Brand/Model:  Eterna KonTiki GMT/World Timer
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  date display, independently adjustable GMT hand
Price:  MSRP:  $4,395; street price around $1,700 USD




Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 

Eterna is probably best known for its iconic KonTiki line of watches, named as such to celebrate Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s famous 1947 Pacific expedition on balsa wood rafts.  Eterna has been making the KonTiki line for years, the best known model being the KonTiki 1958.  The subject of this review is Eterna’s KonTiki GMT/World Timer, which combines many desirable elements into one watch that bears the KonTiki name and I believe, a bit of the heritage as well.
Late in 2011, Eterna was sold to a Chinese company, so the remaining stocks of Eterna watches are to be considered the last of the ‘true’ Eternas, that is, Swiss Made timepieces by a company that has been in the watchmaking business since 1856.
Although I really have no practical use for a World Time or GMT watch, for some reason, I enjoy watches that feature a third timezone complication.  When this Eterna KonTiki GMT was introduced several years ago, it caught my eye and I have been fortunate enough to procure one for my collection.
Robustly constructed of solid stainless steel with superb fit and finish, the Eterna KonTiki GMT starts with a brushed and polished case measuring 41.5mm without the signed, screwdown crown; 44.6mm crown inclusive.  The crown is appropriately sized, not too big but not too small and is signed with a black insert showing the five dot Eterna logo. 
Case thickness is 13.6mm, lug width is 22mm.  Although this watch measures almost 42mm in size, it does not wear that big, due to the world cities inner bezel, the outer timing bezel and the shortness of the hands all combining to make the dial smaller.
The caseback is brushed and screws down and is embossed with the super cool KonTiki logo, depicting Heyerdahl’s raft at sea, encircled by a thin polished ring.  It looks very nice.
The watch is factory rated for 200 meters of water resistance, which is fitting for a watch named after a rafting expedition.
The dial of the KonTiki GMT is black, with a thin silver circle running along the inside of the applied luminous triangular or dagger-style markers.  Applied luminous arabics sit at each quarter hour, with the daggers filling the space between the quarter hours at each five minute mark.  There are no minute markers on the dial, which I find slightly disconcerting, for no other reason than it makes it hard to set the time exactly; you have to wait until it’s five or ten after, etc.
The hands are silver with inset lume and are rather short to me.  They don’t even reach to the outer edge of the 24-hour GMT chapter ring, but this is intentional, I’m sure, to make it easier to read the time in other locations and to no overpower the GMT hand.
The GMT hand is a skeleton style with a two-color pointed tip, half blue and half white, with the white part being a brighter luminous than the blue part.  A rather curious and odd feature if you ask me, but it matches the 24-hour chapter ring that is blue from 18 hours (6 p.m.) through 6 a.m.  The rest of the 24-hour chapter ring is white.  I think this is done to resemble a day/night sort of delineation. 
The 24-hour chapter ring is also luminous, with the upper half (the blue part) being not as bright as the lower half.  Overall lume quality on the KonTiki GMT is average, although the lume is a cool blue color.
The watch seconds hand is a thin silver stick with a lume tip a few millimeters down from the end.
The remainder of the dial on the KonTiki GMT is composed of the world cities bezel, which rotates around the outer edge of the dial.   There are 24 cities/locations listed, with Oslo in yellow, Polynesia in red and Lima in green, highlighting the cities and locations of Heyerdahl’s expedition.  I think the colors add a bit of pizzazz to the dial without looking garish.
The outer timing bezel is unidirectional and turns stiffly without any clicks.  It can be used for standard timing duties, with the first 15 minutes marked by black hash marks and a small lume dot at the 12. 
The timing bezel also is used to rotate the inner cities bezel.  Whenever the timing bezel is rotated, the cities bezel moves along with it.  This design is a bit cumbersome, but practical, because I always appreciate a timing bezel on a watch (and this is a feature that is not found on too many GMT watches) and it eliminated the need for a second crown to rotate the cities bezel. 
Eterna must also use some sort of slick gasket system between the bezel/crystal and case to allow for the outer bezel to rotate the inner bezel and to maintain 200 meters of water resistance.
The dial also has a quickset date window at 4:30 with a proper white on black date wheel that blends well with the rest of the dial.  The KonTiki GMT features a slightly domed sapphire crystal that fits perfectly flush with the edge of the bezel. 
Overall the dial is a bit busy, but is segmented enough to allow for standard timekeeping, GMT/24-hour indication and world timekeeping to be accomplished fairly easily.
The KonTiki GMT features an automatic Swiss Made ETA COSC-grade movement, which is nicely decorated and has an external dust cover/anti magnetic shield that sits between the caseback and movement.  The GMT hand is independently adjustable by rotating the crown clockwise in its first click position.  The GMT hand clicks into position in one-hour increments.  Running well within COSC standards, my KonTiki GMT has performed at +2/24 hours and turns in a strong 49-3/4 hour power reserve.
If you’re wondering why I know so much about what the movement looks like in this watch even though it does not have a display back, I will tell you.  When I received this watch (purchased brand new on the grey market) I set and wound the watch for initial testing in my workshop.  Shortly after I set it, I looked at it and realized the watch was not running!  I picked it up and heard an awful crunching sound.  I gently jostled the watch and it began to run again, so I set it down and let it run out its power reserve.
At this point, I had surmised the rotor has loosened up and was flopping around inside the caseback.  I don’t crack the back on brand new watches, but not wanting to return it either, I brought the watch to my trusted watchmaker.  He opened up the back, removed the movement shield and promptly discovered that one of the screws and clamps on the movement holder securing the movement to the case had come undone.  He fished out the errant screw and clamp, resecured them and gave the other screws a once over.  Everything has been fine since then.
So this is the only slight I will give Eterna regarding the quality and workmanship on this particular example of the KonTiki GMT.  The watch otherwise has been fine, the fit and finish is very good, so I chalk up this one loose movement screw and clamp as ‘just one of those things’ and have moved on.
The bracelet is superb on the Kontiki GMT, with solid, thick links (3.6mm), solid end links and a very attractive signed pushbutton clasp with machined deployant and diver extension.  The clasp is the exact same design (and presumably the same maker) as the clasp on the Ulysse Nardin Maxi Marine Diver, a watch that retails for twice what the KonTiki GMT does.
The bracelet is fully brushed and measures 22mm at the watch head and tapers to 20mm at the clasp.  Adjustment is by thick screw pins, the kind that require a screwdriver to be held on each end in order to tighten or loosen.  A bit awkward, but quality nonetheless.  There are no microadjustments on the clasp, but half links are provided on the bracelet on both sides, so a pretty good fit can be expected.
Presentation with the KonTiki GMT is top-notch.  A two piece cardboard outer box reveals a large, beautifully lacquered wooden box with the KonTiki logo medallion on top.  The box opens to reveal the watch, extra signed rubber strap and a plastic accessory compass, plus the instruction manuals and warranty paperwork.  Extremely classy and befitting a storied watch such as the KonTiki.
Overall, the Eterna KonTiki GMT/World Timer is a unique, functional and solid watch that gives the user a quality timepiece with a bit of history behind it.  It’s an all-around good looking solid performer at a very competitive price.
Pros:  superb all-around construction, COSC automatic movement, great bracelet and clasp, GMT/World Time functionality

Cons:  lume could be stronger, hour and minute hands a bit short in relation to the dial, no minute markers on the dial, QC glitch with loose movement holder screw and clamp

Verdict:  an outstanding value in a Swiss-Made GMT/World Timer with great features, great quality and a storied name by a storied Swiss house.  Snatch one up before they are forever sold out!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

Excelsior!

-Marc


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