Eterna was started in 1856 by Josef Girard and Urs Schild and the Company was born out of a basic need for survival. There was an economic slump at the time which made every day life in the town of Grenchen in the North West of Switzerland extremely hard. To start a company at this time took guts and determination, but Girard and Schild were convinced that their idea would succeed.
The idea was simple; start a manufacturing outlet that would produce pocket watch movements and sell them at a reasonable profit margin to put food on the table, hence the brand was born. The Company was started and movements soon began coming out of the factory. Luckily for Girard people liked his watches, and soon they were able to start making complete watches too.
In 1866 Schild took over the running of the company from Girard and introduced a series of innovations that would cement the company's reputation. He realized that people who bought their watches needed something other than a simple watch. They needed a watch and an alarm clock too. So he set about creating a watch incorporating an alarm function.
The watch proved to be very popular and it became the mainstay of Eterna for many years. In the early 1900s, they began manufacturing wrist watches and in 1914 they incorporated an alarm function in the movement, something that was extraordinary for the time.
They went from strength to strength, incorporating more and more functions and innovations into their watches. They were especially proud of the thin movements that they produced. In fact, small movements became almost a trademark for them, with smaller and smaller watches incorporating more functionality being made every year. Their automatics were especially remarkable given their size.
In 1980 they showed the world an amazing watch, with a movement less than 1mm high. From the "Museum" range, this was an incredible achievement for the company and showed how dedicated they were to the art of horology. The company also made watches that incorporated quartz movements.
For the collector, Eterna alarm watches must hold pride of place in any collection. Genuine early 1900s alarm wrist watches will not be cheap, up around the $8000 mark, but worth every cent. Other Eterna complications can be picked up for very reasonable prices. The Eterna-matic chronometer is another worthy inclusion to any collection as they are extremely rare and yet are still available for less than $1000.
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