Monday, March 19, 2018


It is safe to say that a first love, regardless of how it works out, is something that stays with us throughout our lives, not unlike that broken watch that you keep telling yourself you'll get fixed ; )  

And for those who write about these things (watches), we tend to have favorites.  For me at least, it's hard not to feel romantic about watches.  And perhaps that first horological love was Eterna.

I still remember buying the 50th anniversary KonTiki from Seregin's in San Francisco back in 2000.  I loved that watch.  It was well before I worked for Tourneau, DOXA, or started writing about watches.

Interesting to relate, the first real connection that I ever made in the Swiss watch industry was with Eterna and perhaps one of the best brand PR people I ever got to work with - Manon Vauthier.  It is also worth noting that was back in 2010.  A lot has changed since then.  There have been several different CEO's, a few "caretakers", one or two turn-around specialists, and sundry others who have all had a turn at the wheel and managed somewhat spectacularly to guide the good ship Eterna further and further out into stormy seas.  Eterna has come to be somewhat reminiscent of the Flying Dutchman

Eterna really had everything it ever needed to be successful.  They had a facility (quite a large and beautiful one in Grenchen), they had a solid movement and a very talented team creating it, they had several capable people who brought new ideas and energy, and they had the KonTiki. 


They also had rot.  Institutional rot.  A company vibe that would make the mood on the Titanic seem upbeat.  And as I have mentioned in the past, this is perhaps the most regrettable part of the Eterna legacy, it is a legacy.  It is not a new phenomenon. 

The not-infrequently proposed solution was to switch leaders.  And this became something of a game of musical chairs, with many of us in the Fourth and Fifth Estate playing CEO Bingo, speculating on how long anyone would last in the role.  It is also worth noting that this has been going on for nearly as long as I have been covering Eterna.  But in all fairness to those who went through the revolving doors at Eterna HQ, they were not the real problem.  If you change ownership, management, manufacturing ideas and you still can't get things on track, that leaves only a few possible alternatives, and again this comes back to the institution or organization itself.  And it could be fixed.  It could be made to work again.  But that will take more than just a manager coming in, it would take an entire cultural shift.  And change at that level can be scary.  But maybe, just maybe, it is time to say goodbye to the idea of "this is the way we have always done things", and find a new path.

A reader had mentioned that Eterna would not be at BaselWorld this year, and did I have any info seeing as I was a fan?  Well, yes and no.  As far as I know Eterna will not be displaying at BaselWorld.  It is also worth noting that a lot of Eterna's functions have been absorbed by City Champ stable mate Corum, so to some extent yes, they will be there, just in a different booth.  Eterna are still in the movement business, but at just what capacity that is happening?  Well, it is not really clear just now.  There are several micro brands that are counting not just on new movements, but the serviceability of the movements that they have purchased when issues arise, which they inevitably will as they do with any movement manufacturer. 

But here's to hoping that this is merely a one year hiatus, and that with a bit of luck, and a lot of honest reflection?  Maybe the good ship Eterna can make it back to port.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I hope their absence is not a sign of something worse - I'd hate to see them close their doors.