Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)
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Thread: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

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  1. #1
    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Picture Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    I wasn't going to post a whole thread but didn't want to hijack someone else KontikiSuper thread either so....

    I posted earlier asking if any Eterna collectors had an opinion on this as I did what -for me- is closest to the infamous 'drunk-bid' (though I was not drunk) on the bay. I just thought it was not presented well and the seller hid some of its best attributes which normally scares off most experienced vintage guys who [rightly] think the seller probably hiding something. In this case I just had a hunch. It was a 1st time seller [] and all I had to go on was buyer feedback. Then-as usual-a wus member set me right and informed me that the original 'kontiki' bracelet is a G.F.[Gay Fréres] which i then found were selling for about as much as the entire watch was. So-i stopped worrying that I may have landed a dog and figured at least-I could make use of all the bracelet. It landed today and it seems the 'hunch' paid off. [okay-I'm bragging] It was in between 8.5-9.5 cond. and other then a few surface marks on crystal {polywatch) is untouched and-as seller said-sat in a drawer for 30-40yrs. Its running now and compared to my within cosc '70 DJ [which it looks a lot like, btw] its keeping accurate time. I'll have the movement lubricated.

    And so-I started this whole thing with Eterna because I am looking for a new brand to branch out into since prices of Longines/Omega/others have shot up so much. I wanted a brand with some kind of legendary model known for ruggedness(which is harder then it seems) and the Kontiki fit the bill for me as I am already an Omega fanatic with SM and Longines with Conquest. I didn't want to go down the KontikiSuper route since I already was into divers long ago and the expense was pretty high. The original 50s Kontiki not only has a hefty chunk to it -like a rolex oyster-and it also has the casebook medallion which collectors [like me] love as an extra little 'secret' bonus. Plus the model name is attached -for all of us old enough to remember Thor Heirdayal and his controversial 'theories' and expedition. I think the original Kontiki crew wore something more like this model then a diver watch [?] . The brand- as it was explained in my other thread-was never good at marketing itself and was embroiled in a lot selling and reselling of the brand. But I believe the Kontiki is the model that remains the lasting iconic model (and yes-the ubiquitous 5 bearing rotor of Eterna/ESA is even more iconic but its not a watch) of Eterna during the golden years of swiss watchmaking circa mid-20hC.

    I was also looking at quite a few Centenaries/Centenaire'61 models which are very conservative but handsome Eternas and still available for under $300. (and, this will be the last time I push my theory of the 'undervalued' Eterna as the last time I did this with a model-the Omega f300s or cal. 471/55x SM in 2010 I could purchase almost any working model for <$225 and look what happened with them. Why Eterna is still a vintage bargain while other mid 50s watches like Longines have doubled or more is a good question. I was not able to get an answer to exactly where Eterna fit into the Swiss watchmaking industry in the 50s. Were they more a working persons watch? Middle class? Upscale? Between Omega and Longines or more in line with Enicar and others?

    Anyway-What I like about this particular Kontiki:

    1) the quirky 12, 6 and 9 index markers. IO have scoured 1000s of Kontiki dials and can find not one like it anywhere. I think they are asymmetrical and suppose to be a stylized version of the Kontiki raft or raft sails. The other index's are posts that echo the original early 50s Kontiki compass points w/o lines.

    2) the chunky case design and recessed crown somehow remind me of my 70s Datejust. I guess its a taste thing but this guy had me at the case

    3) it has all the bells and whistles a vintage 50s Kontiki should have. Signed crown, bracelet, casebook medallion in perfect detail. , etc

    4) and the bracelet- it was bonus as I didn't know what a gay frees bracelet was until the other day (even though I am familiar with other non-watch brands like JB which sell for a lot as well). There are sellers asking for over $800 use for these alone but I think their a bit cracked. It looks like at auction the prices float around $125-$250. Still-a very nice bonus for taking a chance. And the seller hid the 'kontiki' logo in pics so I didn't know what I was getting at first.

    5) the other bonus is my hunch was the watch was going to be in primo condition and working well and the hunch paid off as this is what it is. So-the moral of this vintage story? Luck is always a big element of many auction buys but it can NEVER replace experience and research -which I have 30yrs of(and 7 of them with WUS help.yay WUS)

    6) I remember reading this years ago on WUS how many collectors that started with fixations on highly complicated chronographs and other 'exotic' dial watches found that as time went on their tastes simplified and they tended to settle on 3-handed date or even 3-handed no-date watches and became transfixed by the simplicity. I thought "not me". And now-years later....me. I think I may even be building a collection of simple SS 3-handed 50s-70s with original bracelet watches.

    And finally-even though its a fairly sedate model compared to other 'iconic' model names and doesn't touch the KontikiSuper for chunk and machismo-its still a very manly watch with enough fit and polish to stand by itself next to either my Conquest or DJ and its larger then my beefy 50s SMs. And I don't why Im having less then stellar results w the cam on my formerly fantastic Note phone but sorry their not more crisp:

    p.s. any member here who knows Kontiki models well is welcome to correct me on my dating this to the mid/ 50s as I'm not an eterna expert yet.:









    and just to see why I wld compare a DJ (just externally, not comparing the eternal-matic to the rlx) to an Etrna K?:




    maybe i'll start a post for SS 3-handers w or w/o date but all with original SS bracelets. hmmm. Anyway-I know its long post and I am verbose but hope it was interesting...a little
    Last edited by DaBaeker; February 20th, 2015 at 22:14.
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  2. #2
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    nicely done...the best buys are at the intersection of luck and experience...

  3. #3
    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    Quote Originally Posted by Paleotime View Post
    nicely done...the best buys are at the intersection of luck and experience...

    yes, your right and I can never remember the pithiest of the quotes that sums this up nicely though I've seen it here on WUS signatures many times. ;)
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    at the risk of pissing a lot of people off...

    vintage eternas from the golden age are every bit as good as omegas. a few reasons for the lack of popularity- no eterna went to the moon, james bond has never donned an eterna, they are not now considered a top brand, not a lot were made.

    they were an innovative manufacturer, but produced a fraction of the watches that omega did. if serial numbers are a good way to measure, and i think they might be, then eterna cranked out about a million watches every 10 years or so.

    and yes, you should get a centenaire, they're really nice:

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    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    Quote Originally Posted by sherwoodschwartz View Post
    at the risk of pissing a lot of people off...

    vintage eternas from the golden age are every bit as good as omegas.
    can't see why this opinion would tick anybody off. one of the reasons I turned to Eterna is I pretty much expect the build quality and finish to be on par with most of the Omega and Longines models from the same decade. even Rolex models like the Airking and Precision were not considered in the 50s to be as fine as some of the top grade Omegas. So-despite the marketing problems Eterna may have suffered I am confident a 50s Eterna, for the most part, is a top quality mass-marketed swiss luxury brand as good as the best.

    And btw-not sure if you read my whole long post but I was nearly sidetracked from the kontiki by the fine examples of the Centenarie I found for fairly good prices. Centenaries are very handsome watches with-afaik-the same grade eternal-matic movements. In fact-to win this kontiki-i turned down a chance to bid on a more 'rare' Chronometer Centenaries which only sold for i little bit over $200.*

    as I said b4-after this thread I think I will keep my opinions on the undervalued price of Eterna on the down-low as I'd like a year or so to build up a small collection before these start to appear on the radar.

    p.s. your centenarie '61 (the re-issue of the 1956 model five yrs later in '61 -as far as I read?) is very fine looking. I like their bold index markers and simple layouts. My kontiki is a bit more quirky with its shorter asymmetrical markers and I was torn-as I kind of prefer the bold long markers. But I have some time.
    Last edited by DaBaeker; February 21st, 2015 at 01:25.
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    Member sherwoodschwartz's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    i wouldn't worry. ive been popping off about how undervalued they are for 10 years now...and they're still undervalued. why? because no one cares what i think!

    and as far as pissing people off...omega guys...they're a little nuts. i mean, i have a few, and they're very nice, but...maybe i shouldn't have suggested eternas were just as nice on the omega forum. oh well.
    Last edited by sherwoodschwartz; February 21st, 2015 at 01:30.
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    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    Quote Originally Posted by sherwoodschwartz View Post
    i wouldn't worry. ive been popping off about how undervalued they are for 10 years now...and they're still undervalued. why? because no one cares what i think!
    Hah! Yes, I guess I have a bit of an inflated view of my opinion here on WUS because-I always thought I single handedly started the craze for SM300s and then again, the Flightmasters. And then there are a dozen other models I caused prices to jump for.....didn't I? *


    *once it makes it onto Hodinkee though-the jig is up.
    Last edited by DaBaeker; February 21st, 2015 at 01:32.
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    Member efauser's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    I bought this 1958 Birks Eterna Kontiki because I was looking for a birth-year watch and had been looking for a Kontiki, as well. This killed both birds with one, overly expensive, stone. I know I paid too much but it was exactly (except the Birks part) what I wanted.
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    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    Quote Originally Posted by efauser View Post
    I bought this 1958 Birks Eterna Kontiki because I was looking for a birth-year watch and had been looking for a Kontiki, as well. This killed both birds with one, overly expensive, stone. I know I paid too much but it was exactly (except the Birks part) what I wanted.
    Name:  1958 Birks Eterna Kontiki.jpg
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    there is a nice original black dial 'Birks Kontiki' up on bay right now and it isn't very expensive. I'm not to sure what the 'birks' angle iS except maybe a distributor?

    also-yours was probably expensive because it has the original or first kontiki dial with triangles and arrow index markers. I think they re-issued this dialing modern times but this dial and the black version are -afaict-the most desirable old non-diver knottiness
    Last edited by DaBaeker; February 21st, 2015 at 04:30.
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    Member efauser's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage 50s Eterna Kontiki love..(and some vintage buying advice/tales)

    Birks is a high-end Canadian jewelry store. If you look on the bay, there are a few "Birks" models of Swiss watches.

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