Watch Reviews

An Israeli Defense Forces-Issued Eterna Kon-Tiki in NOS Condition: This One Never Made It Into Action

by on Oct.25, 2010, under Review

A watch issued to the Israeli Defense Forces, but never used.

One of the big watch releases of 2010 was Eterna’s re-issue of its beloved Kon-Tiki Super dive watch. The new version, called the Heritage Super Kon-Tiki Limited Edition 1973, is a faithful nod to the legendary original. It retains the bold dive bezel with colored zero marker, cushion-shaped case and ultra-distinctive handset, complete with the “dwarf” hour hand. The new one is starting to hit the market and the same vintage dive watch lovers who drooled over Omega’s new Ploprof and Blancpain’s most recent Fifty Fathoms will be lining up to get one.

Well, today we’ve found you one of the original Kon-Tiki Supers upon which the re-issue is based. Better yet, it’s in “new old stock” condition, with tags and stickers intact and in its original box. One of the claims to fame of the 1970s watch was its selection by Israel’s Special Forces to issue to its commandos. The issued versions, with engraved stock numbers on the caseback are particularly prized, and lo and behold, today’s example appears to have been marked for issue. Judging by its condition, no doubt it never made its way out of the quartermaster’s lockup.

Eterna is one of those watch companies that flies under the radar with a lot of collectors yet has a long and impressive history. The movements found in countless Swiss watches are made by ETA, which is now owned by the Swatch Group but was originally the movement branch of Eterna. Eterna is now owned by the Porsche Design company and over the years has shared much DNA with the sleek pieces Porsche has designed.

Incidentally, the Kon-Tiki line of Eterna watches was named for Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who in 1947 built a raft and sailed from South America to Polynesia to prove a theory that the South Pacific islands were settled by Americans, not Asians. There were several Kon-Tiki divers built in the ’60s and ’70s but none as famous as the Kon-Tiki Super, of which this is an example. You won’t find one in better condition and the high price reflects that. Hodinkee makes no claims as to the authenticity of the issue markings so do your due diligence if you’re interested in buying.

Click here for more photos and information on this magnificent piece of history.


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