Watches used by the Norwegian Explorers and the Israeli Army! What's so great about the Kon-Tiki (Super Kon-Tiki) released by Eterna?

Click here to watch a video about Eterna's Kon-Tiki.

The origins of the Eterna Kon-Tiki and waterproof watches

Thor Heyerdahl

* Thor Heyerdahl

In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and a crew of five set out on a voyage from South America to Polynesia on a wooden raft.

He set out to prove possible contact between the civilizations of these two regions in ancient times.

The raft was called "Kon-Tiki."

The crew of the Kon-Tiki wore Eterna watches.

At the time, Eterna was one of the few brands that offered a full range of features, including a waterproof case, and as a result, an Eterna watch was chosen.

Eterna then adopted the name of the raft as the name of a watch, and so the "Kontiki" model was born.

Since this is a raft, there is a high probability that it will be exposed to water, so it was essential that it was waterproof.

Eterna may not be known for being particularly waterproof, but the company was actually one of the first to focus on waterproof watches.

In the 1930s, Eterna began making waterproof watches, introducing models with screw-down crowns earlier than other manufacturers, and although some of these watches were sold to customers, they did not sell well.

At that time, ordinary citizens tended to think of watches as dress watches, and watches with built-in functions were seen as being for professionals, so perhaps the timing of their release was too early.

On the other hand, Eterna was confident in the future of waterproof watches and continued to steadily research them.

They decided to use a reliable screw-down case back and a non-screw-down, sealed crown, which were the cutting-edge waterproof cases of the time.

Therefore, even though it was said to be a waterproof watch, I don't think it was actually very waterproof at all.

Also, it is not clear what model Kon-Tiki the crew member was wearing at the time, and after doing some research I was unable to find any detailed information, so I will leave the watch as unknown in this article.

Incidentally, the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo is apparently home to just one early military-style Longines wristwatch.

If you don't know much about Eterna watches, please watch this video:

1958: The Kon-Tiki sports model is released

Advertisement for Kon-Tiki, the watch used by the Norwegian Expedition
In 1958, 11 years after the expedition, Eterna launched a new sports model to commemorate the expedition: the Eterna Kontiki.

1958 Eterna Kon-Tiki Ref. 130TT

The dial is coated with radium luminescent material, has raised steel numerals, and features large, highly visible triangular indexes and oversized hands.

Eterna Kontiki Gay Flair bracelet

The watch was housed in a 36.5mm stainless steel waterproof case and came standard with a Gay Flair link bracelet signed by Eterna.

The design originated with the Kon-Tiki, and similar designs have been released by numerous brands over the decades, continuing to this day.

Now, how about the Zodiac Sea Wolf!

Zodiac Seawolf Watches and Catalog

I can hear you say that, but Zodiac released the first Seawolf in 1953.

In fact, none of the Seawolf models made before Eterna's Kon-Tiki appear to have had that style of dial.

The Zodiac Seawolf design with its triangular markers has been in existence since the 1960s, and has been appearing in catalogs since then.

Let's get back to Kontiki.

The Eterna waterproof case looks stylish and smart, but it also feels quite heavy.

Eterna Kontiki case back and movement Cal.1414UD

The back cover is characterized by a "step" - an angled slope with a flat center to deepen the groove for the screw tool.

The back cover features a raft mark, which represents the Kon-Tiki.

The movement is automatic and is equipped with Eterna Cal. 1414UD.

What's amazing about the Eterna-matic is that, unlike other automatic calibers of the time, it was designed with five ball bearings to reduce friction, and this design became the standard for automatic movements in the Swiss watch industry.

The Eterna logo also has five dots, which come from the five ball bearings.

Reference number

Eternas from the 1940s through to the 1970s have reference numbers that include the letters T, DT, or BDT.

Eterna Reference Numbers and their English meanings

The T and DT stood for waterproof case, while the BDT stood for waterproof case and bracelet.

This 1958 Eterna Kon-Tiki had the reference number 130 TT.

If we apply this to the reference table, first of all, "1" means a stainless steel case.

The second and third numbers are not shown in the table, but "30" refers to a specific case style.

So, there is a case shape with the number 30.

Therefore, the ref. 130 TT stands for (stainless steel case, super waterproof) .

Super Kontiki for serious divers

Now, let me explain more about KonTiki's authentic diver's watches.

Eterna 1960s Kon-Tiki 20

Eterna Super Kontiki First to Third Models

In the 1960s, the standard version and the Super Kon-Tiki, equipped with a rotating bezel and pressure reduction valve for serious divers, were born.

First generation: Reference 130 IPT / A

This is the Super Kon-Tiki, a serious diver, that was born, and because it was produced by Eterna, it became extremely popular.

This is the first model, Ref. 130 IPT/A.

An "I" indicates a recessed crown, a "P" means that an external bezel is fitted, and a "T" denotes a waterproof case.

Eterna Super Kon-Tiki advertisement from the early 1960s

The first model had a case size of 36.8mm, which was slightly smaller than the standard diver's watch, and was equipped with the Cal.1424UD movement, an evolution of the Cal.1414UD.

Second generation: Reference 130 PTX

The second generation, reference 130 PTX, was released from 1962.

When it comes to the second generation, the impression changes quite a bit.

The changes include the case being equipped with a crown guard, which has increased the case size to 40mm and given it an asymmetrical style more typical of a diver's watch.

The movement remains the same, Cal.1424UD.

3rd Generation: Reference 130 FTP / 130 FTT

Kontiki Supermarket 3rd generation advertisement

The third generation, which was released in 1967, looked almost the same as the second generation, but the caliber was changed to cal. 1489K and the name was changed from Super Kon-Tiki to Kon-Tiki Super.

The evolution of the caliber has not changed performance, but the thickness has improved quite a bit, from 5.85mm to 5.2mm, which has resulted in a correspondingly thinner back cover.

Kontiki Super Back Cover

It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but compared to the original Kon-Tiki, there is much less of a gap in the back cover.

Delivered to the Israel Defense Forces

Eterna Kon-Tiki Super Wristwatch Adopted by the Israeli Army (IDF)

Eterna Super Kon-Tiki, adopted by Israeli Special Forces Shayetet 13

The Kon-Tiki diver's reputation for reliability and durability was one of the factors that made it an attractive choice for the military, where a robust watch was important.

So the Israeli government adopted Kon-Tiki Super.

The products will be delivered to Israel's elite naval special forces, Shayetet 13, and the IDF (Israel Defender), two of the country's most elite military units.

To us Japanese, they seem like amazing people from a somewhat far-away country, so to briefly explain, their main duties include counter-terrorism operations, sabotage, intelligence gathering, and rescuing hostages from ships .

"Shayetet" means "fleet" or "convoy" in Hebrew, and "Shayetet 13" literally translates to the 13th Fleet in Japanese.

These highly trained special forces mostly wore Eterna watches during their duties.

That's how reliable Eterna watches are.

Looking at the details of the watch, we can see that it no longer has the crown guard that was introduced during the evolutionary process, and its style seems closer to that of the first generation.

That said, the case size is large at 41mm and thick at 14mm, likely designed with the dome-shaped cases that were popular in the 1970s in mind.

The hands have also been changed from the previous leaf type to a square-type hour hand with a rod in the middle and a square tip, and the minute hand is a pencil style hand, a design that is rarely seen even among military watches.

The luminous paint has also been changed from tritium to Luminous, which allows the dive time to be more clearly determined even in the dark ocean floor , and the lime green parts represent this.

This style does not appear to have been sold commercially, so it can be said to be a special model made exclusively for the Israeli military.

That being said, this watch is really cool.

Well, it's almost impossible to get.


Like the early Eterna Kon-Tiki watches and the Super Kon-Tiki Divers, these are highly collectible items.

Unfortunately, these watches tend to fetch high prices, and the Super Kon-Tikis in particular tend to be more expensive than other models.

1970s Kon-Tiki 20

It has become a brand that is only known to a few people in Japan, but looking at global trends, I think that in the future, this brand will reign as a brand that is unavailable even in Japan.

For example, overseas, watches from Wyler, WeylerBetta, and Tourneau are traded at extremely high prices, but there does not seem to be that much demand for these brands in Japan.

I believe that the value of a vintage watch comes from the way it is made and the story behind it.

It seems that truly fine watches, like Eterna watches, are something that people will naturally seek out, no matter how much time has passed.