Eterna has a remarkably interesting history which stretches back to 1856. Dr. Joseph Girar teamed up with a young teacher, Urs Schild and established a watch company, having identified a niche in the market for creating watch movements. The company, “Dr Girar and Schild” was founded in Grenchen and thus begins the story of Eterna. The company became a reputable manufacturer of semi finished movements (Ebauches, which are now known as ETA) and full finished movements.
By using water and steam, Schild, who managed the company on his own after the passing of Dr Girar, produced the first automatic manufacturing machines. From 1885 onwards Schild focused on creating watches as well as Ebauches and became known as “Schild Fréres & Co.". From 1888 onwards, Schild’s two sons managed the company after his passing. The manufacturer grew from thereon and employed over 300 workers who were developing a staggering total of 180 timepieces a day, each one stamped with the Eterna name upon its dial. The name started in reference to a watch collection but was adopted as the brand’s new corporate name in the early 1900s.
1904 marked the year that Eterna patented a special watch case with moving safety band lugs initially intended for its military wristwatches. Just a few years later the company patented an alarm clock feature which became the world’s first series-produced alarm wristwatch. In addition to the world’s smallest baguette movement and a model with an 8 day power reserve, Eterna continued to innovate year after year.
1932 was an important year for Eterna since the company was separated into two entities. One for producing movements known today as ETA (now a wholly owned subsidiary by the Swatch Group), and the other for creating wristwatches. In 1948 Eterna produced a five ball bearing mounted rotor, which reduced wear and tear of the engine’s fine components normally caused by fiction. The ball bearings enabled the movement to perform smoothly without the effects of friction even when subject to extreme conditions. The innovative ball bearing technology was a game changer and is now used worldwide by luxury watch brands today. The Eternamatic movement is now implemented into all modern Eterna watches, having taken the brand to new heights with improved performance and reliability of its movements.
Some of Eterna’s most popular watch collections include the Eternity, Heritage and the Kontiki lines. The brand’s Eternity watches draw inspiration from models from the 1950s and 1960s, while the Heritage collection is home to classic and elegant timepieces that combine a practical 40mm steel case with a simple and refined dial for easy timekeeping. The Eterna Kontiki collection features a wide range of three handed models and chronographs. One particularly interesting design from the range is the Kontiki Four Hands, equipped with a central pointer date feature. The design not only provides the wearer with an alternative way to keep track of the days of the week but also delivers a 38 hour power reserve courtesy of the Calibre 39. It also boasted a larger case (42mm) compared to the Heritage watches, as well as luminous coated appliques. These waterproof Kontiki watches were designed to commemorate Thor Heyerdahl’s archaeological expedition in 1947.
Since Eterna changed hands once again in 2011 when it was taken over by the Chinese Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Ltd, the company continues to strive forward with accurate chronographs and elegant ladies watches, many of which can be admired throughout out extensive collection of Ebel watches here at Jura Watches.