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Eterna KonTiki 1958 Automatic -01

posted 22 Apr 2015, 23:29 by Markus Helander   [ updated 3 Jun 2015, 07:39 ]
Unlike my other watches, this actually has something more to it. I've had a lot of those that just have the looks, have the thrill, and in the end don't really give much, nothing even. But this one does.

I got the perfect chance last year to combine a nearly life-long dream, an adventure revisited, and a relaxing summer vacation. I even got a chance to trick in a special surprise! This is how it went down; the short version, the watch-edition, if you will.

My girlfriend had visited Iceland several years back during her studies. She lived there for a while, gathered memories and experiences, got new friends, learned of a new culture. The visit faded to a phase in her life, as much as many other things in life, but there always remained a feeling that she had to go back. And then she did - right after turning forty, no less. I got to go with and smuggled the KonTiki along.

KonTiki was actually the perfect find for this journey. Two flights to a remote island with not much more than rocks, lava and Viking-descendants. A plan to roam long and winding roads to see great waterfalls, burning hot volcanoes, mystic black sand and icy glaciers. For a modern Westerner, that's nearly as adventurous as the feats of the crew of KonTiki led by the legendary Thor Heyerdahl.

Left: Kontiki 1958 with a NATO strap. Right: A super-secret hot spring in Iceland.

Oh, KonTiki was the name of the raft Heyerdahl sailed across the Pacific from the Peruvian coast to a Polynesian atoll just to prove a point, the point being that population could have migrated from South America to Polynesia.

The raft was made from balsa wood! Stones.

Originally the name is said to be from the Inca sun god Viracocha. It took 101 days for Heyerdahl to make his journey during which he wore an Eterna watch. This happened in 1947 and ten years later Eterna released their first KonTiki to celebrate this magnificent achievement - hence the year in the watch. As a side note, in 1958 a French adventurer Eric de Bisschop tried to made his way from Tahiti to Chile with a similar type of Polynesian raft called Tahiti-Nui II. The raft eventually sank, but the crew built a new raft, Tahiti-Nui III.

From the wreckage.
In the middle of the ocean.

Stones, too. Sadly the new raft was also wrecked and de Bisschop was killed in the accident.

Left: Kontiki submerged in the secret Icelandic hot spring. Center: Erupting geyser, Strokkur. Right: The cyclops and the screw-down crown taking a dip.

After the long first day of travelling from Helsinki via Copenhagen to Reykjavik, the watch surprised the way to its current wearer. I was actually a bit surprised later, since it was only at the airport a week later that the watch came off the first time. It took the week's adventures easily; dives to the hot spring (above), sprays of the very hot Strokkur (above, too), the cold waterfalls and bumpy glacier rides (below) and the drunken nights as well (what?). All this while looking fantastic, yet dignified.

The purple dial was The Thing that had sealed the deal earlier that year. There had to be some kind of twist in the color to stand out from the basic blacks, whites and grays. It had the fine lines like its wearer, but it also had to be rugged enough to be able to go anywhere. Sapphire crystal today is as common as black sand in Iceland, so that was easy, but the screw-down crown makes the watch just that little bit more trustworthy when you're planning on keeping the watch on everywhere.

While we're at it, I'll throw the specs down here:
  • Ref. 1571.41
  • Stainless steel case, 36mm diameter without crown
  • Screw-down case back with Kontiki raft logo
  • Screw-down crown with Eterna 5 Ball-Bearing logo
  • Quick-set date feature at 3 o'clock
  • ETA 2428-2 caliber movement, with 25 jewels, 28800 A/h and incabloc shock system, hacking
  • Flat sapphire crystal with a cyclops over the 3 o'clock date
  • Purple dial with Arabic numerals at 6, 9 and 12
  • Water resistant to 120 meters

Left: Jökulsárlón glacier. Right: Kontiki 1958 browsing the brochure of Islandic JS Watch Company.

This Kontiki 1958 is no longer in production and, what I browsed though the internets, it seems that it is in very popular demand indeed. And no wonder; it really has the looks to match the features:

  • The Arabic numerals on the far edges give it a Rolex Explorer look but with the cyclops which is not found on Explorer I but in many other Rolexes.
  • The size is more comparable to the classic Datejust, but with a more sporty feel. 
  • Combined with a standard ETA 2824-2, cheap to service, too.
I like it very much - even without the non-standard dial color, this would be a solid piece!

Left: Bubbling under. Right: Kontiki 1958 playing Ian Anderson's (Jethro Tull) flute.

What a truly wonderful trip that left me with a clear memory of a phase of my own I'd love to return to.

I got to live there for a short while and to see the grand tour with her. I got to share new memories with her and from this super-friendly place. I got to experience a real adventure with someone, even if it just a walk in the park for true adventurers. But more from those on a later date.

The Kontiki checks every box in the gift list for watches and, at least to date, it has proven itself to be the perfect all-rounder for her. Some watches have the looks and features figured out like this but very few have the history behind them. Eterna Kontiki 1958 really has it all.

To sum it up, Thor Heyerdahl started it with passion, Eterna picked it up and fine tuned it to perfection over the years, Iceland gave us a great adventure for testing the piece out and now, in essence, she's wearing an Inca Sun God on her wrist that, hopefully, reminds her of a trip back to memory lane with me - not too bad, I feel.

Thanks for reading!

Left: Blancpain Leman Ultra-Slim Aqua Lung. RIght: Eterna KonTiki 1958 Automatic.