Old Eterna Chronograph model?
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  1. #1
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    Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    I have an old Eterna chronograph which belonged to my Grandfather, so is very precious to me. It works fine but I've meant for many years to get it serviced, aware that to do it properly would likely be expensive. It not only needs a service but a model appropriate strap as the original is lost to memory. A thorough and careful cleaning of the dial (if possible) and I suspect the glass is also not original, so would need replacing too.


    The first place to start I've reasoned is to nail the actual model. Over the years I've periodically checked the net to attempt to find out its exact model but unfortunately I've not been able to do so. Recently someone suggested this site as possibly holding the key to identifying the model, so here I am. :) If a forum member out there knows the model I'd really appreciate them posting it.

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    As I said above, eventually I'd like to get the watch serviced. However I'm aware that the Eterna brand may not be what it once was.. their site seems to suggest various service centres (I'm in London,UK) but none seem exactly what I would expect. Given that, if knowledgable people could point me in the direction of trustworthy and accredited watch smiths, I'd really appreciate that too.


    Hope you can help.

  2. #2
    Member mkws's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    It is most unlikely that it has a name - most Eternas only had a reference number. The only named models (collections) made before 1970 that I'm aware of are the Centenaire, KonTiki, and the Golfer (pocket watch with automatic movement).

    Given the "pump" pushers, I'd be guessing that it's a waterproof (well, not actually waterproof any longer) case. If it has a screw-in back, you can be sure that that's what it is, and the reference will likely have a "T" suffix indicating that feature. Since it's steel, the reference number will likely be 1##T (or, if it the model was originally offered on a bracelet, 1##BDT), where 1 means stainless steel, and ## stands for the (as of now) unknown manufacturer's code for the chronograph feature - manufacturer's codes for these features are nowhere to be found. The only Eterna reference number documents available online (at least the only one I know of), are the ones provided to me by Eterna and - by their leave - posted by me here:
    https://forums.watchuseek.com/f11/ete...m-4539431.html

    Most Eterna chronographs were powered by the Valjoux 22, and this one, being from the early to mid 1940s (my guess), likely has a 22 inside as well.

    I'd suggest that you contact Eterna - they will need a brief description, and the serial number of the case and movement (yes, Eternas had two serials), but they will provide you with the exact year of production and reference number. Fortunately, they don't charge anything for that. They take their time with the reply; when I first contacted them, they replied after a week, the next - after 3 weeks. But it's worth it.

    And please, don't give in to ideas of even touching the dial. The patina is absolutely lovely as it is - and keep in mind, that if the cleaning goes wrong, this really great dial can be irreversibly destroyed (no, you won't find a replacement).

    I'm sure the folks here will help you find a good watchmaker. One member here, sdasurrey (Scott, if you're reading this: where the hell are you, we haven't seen you post in ages!), had his Eberhard chronographs serviced by a watchmaker on Portobello Road in London, but hell take me if I remember his name.
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  3. #3
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    You inherited a very nice chronograph. I agree that there is no need to replace or clean anything associated with this watch; less is more in this case. Just have the movement serviced (clean/oil/adjust) by a reputable local watchmaker and put it on an understated leather strap that matches your taste. No polishing, no cleaning, no parts replaced unless necessary for proper function.
    gizmo1990 and JonS1967 like this.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    Thanks so much for the replies guys. I really appreciate you taking the time to write your advice.


    That's great that Eterna can still help in the identification process. I shall contact asap. On the back of the watch, as well as an all numerical serial number, it says Staybrite Steel, Shock Absorber, Waterproof and Anti Magnetic.


    I'm happy to leave the face untouched as I agree the patina is lovely. What I'm really hoping for is to identify the original so that I can match it with the correct strap design and material. Perhaps this may be asking too much though.


    The servicing is something that I take very seriously, especially it being so precious to me, but also being a highly crafted time piece. I would only trust it to a very reputable watchmaker I could visit directly, and who I would be positive is qualified to service this type of watch.


    If knowledgable members such as @sdasurrey or others could point me in direction of reputable London or SE based watchmakers, it would again be most appreciated.
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  6. #5
    Member mkws's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    If the reference won't have a "BDT" suffix (well, as it has a waterproof case, the suffix will certainly be T or DT), then you can be sure that it was offered on a leather strap (B indicates, that a watch was originally equipped with a bracelet). Back in the day, there was pretty much one basic choice of strap for most manufacturers, and that would have been a pigskin one. That said, if you simply get a tan pigskin strap for the watch, it will by all means be a period-correct pairing. If it turns out to have been originally equipped with a bracelet, the chance of finding an Eterna bracelet from that period will be hard, if not impossible (I know - I tried).

    If you want to check the year of production of the case (1-2 years of a gap between case and movement batches is usually acceptable, so don't worry if the info from Eterna will differ from the serial no. charts), go here:
    http://www.schild-eterna.de/tripletime.htm
    ...and scroll down to the bottom of the page, and simply match the serial with the correct serial no. interval in the chart there.

    Staybrite was an alloy most popular in the 1930s and early 1940s.

    Good that it's shockproof - then again, one couldn't expect Eterna not to have used one in a sporty/tool model. Will most likely be an Eterna-H device (Eterna used to make their own shock devices).
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  7. #6
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    I found an example of a similar model, and it was in a clamshell case. Can you post a photo of the back?

    https://vintagecaliber.com/products/...clamshell-case
    Last edited by badbackdan; November 25th, 2017 at 01:56.
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  8. #7
    Member mkws's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    I found an example of a similar model, and it was in a clamshell case. Can you post a photo of the back?

    https://vintagecaliber.com/products/...clamshell-case
    Never seen a "Clamshell" case Eterna before. Interesting.

    Just for what it's worth, this "clamshell" is a redial - the font is definitely from the late 1960s/early 1970s. There's no way it could have been used on a watch made in 1941. Also, "Swiss Made" is incorrect for an early 1940s Eterna - they were either marked "Swiss" or "Fab. Suisse." For that matter, later on, they were still using "Swiss", not "Swiss Made."

    Then again, with this dealer, I guess it was predictable that they'll miss something quite as obvious - they're doing the Calatrava Houdini, the prices are outrageous, and they're selling a Ukrainian IWC franken for 2700 euro.
    badbackdan likes this.
    I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.
    Edgar Allan Poe

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    George Orwell

    Villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.
    Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

    For any inquiries regarding vintage Doxa watches, please read the highlighted text in my vintage Doxa thread. Sorry, but I will not respond to PMs on the matter.

  9. #8
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    Quote Originally Posted by mkws View Post
    Never seen a "Clamshell" case Eterna before. Interesting.
    I'd never seen a clamshell-case Eterna either.
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  10. #9
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    I'd never seen a clamshell-case Eterna either.
    Guess that makes it fairly uncommon by Eterna standards. While they have experimented with waterproof cases (first Eternas equipped with a screw-down crown date to the 1930s), it wasn't common for them to rely on third-party designs, especially that their own were really great (just in case I haven't been praising their screw-in back cases often enough, I'll take my liberty to do that again). I mean, we're talking of a company, which hasn't even been using any shock device other than ones of their own design.
    I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.
    Edgar Allan Poe

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    George Orwell

    Villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.
    Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

    For any inquiries regarding vintage Doxa watches, please read the highlighted text in my vintage Doxa thread. Sorry, but I will not respond to PMs on the matter.

  11. #10
    Member georges zaslavsky's Avatar
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    Re: Old Eterna Chronograph model?

    I don't recall Eterna using this case design, I am afraid that this might be a franken.
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