A Newcomer and A Comeback
There was a lot on show at Baselworld this year, but it’s not (entirely) all about universally known brands like Rolex, Omega, Audemars or Patek; and it’s not (only) about tourbillons and chronographs either.
Take for example, Nord Zeitmaschine, a Swiss brand launched in 1998 and a relative newcomer; and at the other end of the spectrum, Eterna, one of the grand old names of Swiss watchmaking (established in 1856) that we haven’t heard from in decades who’s preparing for a comeback.
Nord Zeitmaschine (the name translates as ‘the time machine from the Nord’) was founded by Daniel Nebel who took a special interest in time displays and became preoccupied with finding an alternative to the customary radius display, where hands turn on a fixed axle. He came up with a few applications that stirred a lot of interest and debate in the watch industry, even if it did make it rather hard for ordinary people to tell the time.
This year, he’s presenting a prototype called the Quickindicator, featuring the world’s fastest-moving minutes hand. How is that possible? Essentially the hand goes around the dial more times to measure 60 minutes, as if it had a linear track (204.8 mm long) to travel.
There to uphold its craftsmanship heritage is Eterna. There have been times in the company’s existence of over 150 years, when it was synonymous with innovation, such as the popular ETA mechanical movement introduced in 1926, the Eterna-Matic ball-bearing-mounted rotor developed in 1947, and the iconic KonTiki (‘God of Sun’) watches, first introduced in 1950 as an homage to Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl and his crew’s saga across the Pacific.
There have been tough times too, but the brand pushed through and is now ready to return. First it developed a new movement: a modular type that can be mounted as a simple three hand, manual wind watch. By adding complication units all the variations of dates and chromos – even a flyback chronograph – can be achieved. Then it designed a new KonTiki model that uses the 39XX with automatic winding and a simple quantième. It’s a beautiful, solid piece that exudes iconic status. With its affordable price point – on average around the €2,000 mark – it’s hopefully set to bring Eterna a host of new fans.
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