Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wrapping Up the KonTiki Date

So a bit more than 15 days, but the nice folks at Eterna have not sent the goons to come and collect the Kontiki Date.  Therefore it is time to tie a bow on this little review and wrap it up.
Courtesy of Eterna
Point of full disclosure - I am a prior owner of 2 different Eterna KonTiki watches.
This was one of them -
Courtesy of Eterna
I am a little biased, so I am going to try and keep this as objective as I possibly can.
When I spoke with the folks at Eterna they asked me if I wanted to wait for one of the new releases, but for reasons that will reveal themselves in a few more months, I wanted something as close to the original as possible.

Courtesy of Eterna
What many may know (but perhaps some don't) is that the first KonTiki came some time after the original KonTiki voyage of 1947.  The first KonTiki was not released until 1958!  What a HUGE difference that is to how things are done now.  It seems that for the past 10 years you would create the watch, have the press release, then "do the thing".  But back in the day, the whole concept of "celebrity endorser" / "friend of the brand" really didn't exist in the same way.  Thor Heyerdahl and his crew needed watches, and the good folks at Eterna provided them.  At the time, that seemed to be that.  And while for many the KonTiki seems to be a sport/diver watch plain and simple, in its first incarnation it was closer to an everyday sort of timekeeper.

But let's get back to the subject at hand, the KonTiki Date.

First and foremost, I am always most concerned with comfort on the wrist.  Ultimately, it really doesn't matter how cool a watch looks on its own, or how accurate it is if it rubs up your wrist or gives you a rash.  It will become a very cool, very accurate paper weight.  The KonTiki Date has been very comfortable.

Now part of this is, as is usually the case, down to intelligent design -

The case is slightly curved, but in addition, the case back is not the usual bulbous, "puck-like" protuberance typically found on sports watches made to look "bad-ass".

Now you still have the engraved case back with the KonTiki boldly plying the waves.  Even with the slightly raised logo, the case back still sits smoothly and comfortably on the wrist.

While the case does measure 42 mm, it is not overwhelming on the wrist.  The crown is tactile and the action is smooth.  Being a screw-down crown, it helps to ensure that the KonTiki Date will remain water resistant to what Eterna warrants to be 200 meters.

Another added reason for the comfort of the watch is that Eterna actually spent some time and money on the strap. It's sort of ironic that the part of the watch that comes into the greatest contact with your skin is often an afterthought.  

Now the strap itself is made of leather, but is surrounded by what Eterna refers to as an "embossed textile structure".  Essentially, it feels like a very soft, pliable nylon - water resistant, but more of a fabric feel than a plastic feel.

The strap is secured by a buckle instead of a deployment clasp, which is in keeping with the vintage look and feel of the watch.

The finishing is clean and the edges of the buckle are smooth.

So moving on from "feel", the "look" of the watch is quite striking.  The dial is bold, and very legible.

The dial is divided into primarily two sections or a "circle within a circle".  The outer circle is smooth with the hours divided by four hour indicators with a stainless number surrounded by an orange triangle of Superluminova at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.  The remaining hours marked by stainless steel indices.  

The hands are also filled with orange Superluminova.  

The "inner" circle is a sort of "relief" image of Raroia.  This is the atoll where the Kontinki finished its voyage.  

The dial is clear and very legible.  My only complaint about it would be the date window.  It is the "average" size, but the use of a white on black background tends to wash it out somewhat.  I do like the orientation of the date window, my only suggestion would be to perhaps use orange either for the date or the background to make it more visible and also would match better with the black and orange color scheme. 

The timekeeping was very steady.  The movement is a self-winding Selitta SW 200.  It's funny, but many of us remember when Selitta got more involved in providing movements, there was a lot of "poo-pooing" about Selitta not being fit to power an Invicta!  But now, despite all of the nay saying, it turns out that Selitta makes quite a good self-winding movement.  I did experience an average deviation of + 6 seconds which all things being equal was quite good.

So courtesy of Eterna, here are the details:

Polished and brushed stainless steel

Black with embossed Raroia atoll structure

Hour markers: 
Orange luminous on rhodium-plated index

Black leather with embossed textile structure

Pin buckle

Sellita Calibre SW 200

Movement Type

h, min, s and date

Power Reserve
38 h

28,800 v.p.h.


Ball Bearing

Case Diameter
42 mm

Case Height
12.35 mm

Water Resistance
200 m

Scratch-resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal

Case Back
Screw-fitted with KonTiki medallion

So to sum it up?  Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the KonTiki.  But I think for many of us, the attraction of the KonTiki has always been the emotional tie.  It is a wonderful story and quite often, it is the story that draws us in.  But having said that, this particular version of the KonTiki is solid and sporty.  One of the sad truths about an iconic model that survives year after year in a brand's collection is that it is sometimes going to suffer some quite regrettable indignities as the years pass and the well-intentioned, but poorly executed designs morph it into something unrecognizable from it's predecessor.  And on this score the KonTiki Date has adjusted to the current times in terms of size, it benefits from modern watch making techniques, and the the use of orange (albeit not for everyone) is something that I really like.  But most of all, I think I appreciate this version of the KonTiki because it is not a tarted-up dive watch with the name (and legend) slapped on.  It is true to the original, but it has evolved.

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