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After 101 grueling days and 4,300 nautical miles, Thor Heyerdahl and his crew sailed their rickety wooden craft into a reef on the shores of Raroia, one of the Tuamotu Islands, completing one of the most historic and controversial crossings of the Pacific Ocean.
Heyerdahl, a Norwegian ethnographer, botanist and zoologist, devised the voyage in order to prove his hypothesis that the South Pacific was populated from east to west, contrary to the popular belief. Despite the presence of evidence to support his claims, the larger scientific community remained unconvinced that crafts of such rudimentary design could survive a cross-Pacific voyage.
To prove the journey was possible, Heyerdahl constructed a raft, which he christened the Kon-Tiki after the Incan king who had made the journey according to South American lore, using only materials and technology that would have been common to the people of South America in early history.
Defiant of the odds, Heyerdahl and his team struck out, using only the current and the trade winds to propel them across the Pacific. The crew assembled a collection of modern and ancient equipment, including a store of U.S. Army rations, hand-crank radios and six Eterna wristwatches.
Eterna had been building timepieces since the mid 1800s and had made many horological benchmarks along the way: They filed for the first patent for a mechanical alarm wristwatch in 1908 and the design of the worlds smallest production wristwatch in 1930. The simple watches that Heyerdahl and his crew used were subjected to - and survived – conditions to which many watches would have quickly succumbed.
Shortly after the news of Heyerdahl’s success reached Switzerland, Eterna began assembling a new line of watches in his honor. The new line, the Kon-Tiki Series, came to exemplify the spirit of maritime adventure and exploration. In addition to bearing the name of Heyerdahl’s vessel, the case back of each Kon-Tiki was adorned with a likeness of the raft.
This particular piece, dating to the late 1960s, has a gorgeous sea-blue dial and elegant baton hands. Whether paired with a colorful nylon strap or worn on its original steel bracelet, this watch is dripping with vintage nautical appeal, making it the perfect accoutrement for sea-borne summer fun.
Stainless Steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown).
Overall Condition: The watch is in excellent condition over all, with only the lightest wear marks visible. Original blue dial is in similarly excellent condition, as is the original handset. Unsigned screw-down crown. Original case back with Kon-Tiki emblem.