Today, Eterna is on the verge of completing a task involving high precision and ingenuity, its Calibre 39. This movement is not only an industrial calibre, but also represents a family of calibres thanks to whose modularity the brand can produce 88 different movements using the base calibre.
Eterna: pioneers of watchmaking
Throughout its history Eterna has always been involved in designing movements. At its start, the company only manufactured ébauches. In 1948, Eterna revolutionised the automatic movement by offering an oscillating mass on ball bearings. The Eterna-Matic, which was the model, has become a benchmark today. The use of ball bearings is perfectly natural for Eterna. It is at the origin of the company logo, and in 2006, Eterna patented the Spherodrive technology featuring ceramic balls on three concentric rings to facilitate the rotation of the barrel. This technology, further refined, has been applied to the new family of the calibres 39, which will be the spearhead of the manufacture.
Great complexity distilled to simplicity
The project began in 2007 and had two aims: the first was to develop an automatic chronograph with subsidiary dials at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The second objective was to find solutions to optimise design and costs. Step by step, and thanks to the cleverness of Eterna’s watchmakers, an entire family of calibres emerged. This special and outstanding design allows assembly of 88 different versions of the movement using a single base movement. By subtly combining this movement and different components or assembly groups, the watchmakers can construct anything from a simple manual movement with two or three hands, to a chronograph. All they need to do is remove the three screws from the three-hand, manually-wound calibre’s decorative bridge and add the automatic module, which can be affixed using the same three screws. The result is a three-hand automatic calibre. The same procedure is used to add a power reserve. The premounted manual and automatic chronograph modules can also be affixed to the base movement using a set of screws. Moreover, just a few components are needed to add a second hand to the centre. On the dial side, adaptation for the functions can be done very simply and the possibilities are many: date, day date, central date and/or second time zone.
The calibre’s great many possibilities and its apparent complexity belie its simple design and few component parts. Manufacture of all versions has been highly industrialised and the assembly optimised.
The quality of the movement is top-notch. The entire line has chronometer quality and the Spherodrive system has been further refined. The balance wheel’s high inertia (16g/mm2) gives it a great deal of precision and stability. Furthermore, 68 hours of power reserve is guaranteed. All the chronograph functions are controlled by a column wheel, which in turn features a flyback function. The movement is “Swiss made”, but could in fact be described as “Grenchen made”. Indeed, 70% of the components are manufactured in or around Eterna’s hometown of Grenchen.
Eterna, the brand
Eterna has been manufacturing haut-de-gamme mechanical watches since 1856 with the know-how of generations of artisan watchmakers. In over 150 years of history, the company has produced a wide range of innovative models. The sheer creative vigour of the brand has been demonstrated over and over again through such revolutionary novelties as the ball-bearing-mounted rotor, Eterna Matic, or the first wristwatch with an alarm function. Another watershed in its history was the development of the ball-bearing-mounted spring barrel Eterna Spherodrive, which revolutionised the mechanical movement in terms of durability, regularity and hence quality. Eterna is one of the rare brands to bank on novel ideas and quality materials while performing traditional manufacturing. This has allowed the brand to always find surprising solutions to horological challenges that have been around for centuries.