Eterna Reference Number System

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Eterna Reference Number System

Postby MKTheVintageBloke » September 24th 2017, 1:48pm

Recently, after contacting Eterna to get to know more about my second vintage watch made by them, I was surprised to find out its reference number- 106 BDT. OK... No, wait - my 1952 Eterna has the very same reference number. And they're two very different watches! So I've decided to ask a few more questions, as I have suspected there's something more to these numbers.

The after sales department at Eterna has confirmed, that there is a system to their reference numbers, and the very helpful and communicative people there have kindly provided me with a scan of the guide to these, straight out of the archives.

Following my request, Eterna has allowed me to publish this chart, as a reference for other collectors - to help them understand the apparently (until now!) meaningless reference numbers of their watches.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here it is!
A Brief Caveat
It is of vital importance to understand, that this chart will only allow you to understand a known reference number, which number you can obtain by contacting Eterna about your watch (will take 1-3 weeks for them to reply, but if your hunger for knowledge can't - like mine - be satisfied until you get to know all you can know about your watch, it's worth it...and it's free of charge).
You can't use it to determine the reference number only by matching the features of your watch to the chart.

Now, why not?

Quite simply: because you don't know, which features of a particular watch did Eterna consider to be the ones of priority, when assigning the reference number.

How Does It Work?
The first number is just the case material - well, so that part of the reference you can find out on your own. The two digits that follow indicate the case style - sadly, that part is not provided. I can only assume, that it may be somewhat more extensive than this chart alone. The letter code lists the features that set the model apart from another model sharing the same three-digit number.

A case study:
Why, let's look at the reference of my two watches- 106 BDT.

1 - stainless steel
06- case style, here (according to Eterna) it means a round case (however, as I've said, that's the part that's sadly not included in the resource)
B - a metal bracelet. Well, now I know that both of my watches originally came on bracelets, and I can only hope that one day I'll find a period-correct one to fit at least one of my Eternas. Sadly, no records about the original bracelets (references, catalogues, any documentation) exist.
DT - a waterproof case (yeeees, the Eterna waterproof case that I'm so fond of).

Following that pattern, a ref. 106 would be a steel, round watch with a press-in back, 106 B - the same, only on a bracelet, and a 106 T or 106 DT would be steel, round, have a waterproof case, but would originally have been offered on a leather strap. Though if they would feature a flat dial as well, would the reference become 106 FT or 106 FDT? Dunno. I also don't know, if the letter code always has to be three letters, or not.

Now, until you've got to know the reference, you can't really have an idea of which features have been considered a priority in terms of the letter suffix. For example, both my Eternas have flat dials - there's an "F" code for the flat dial, yet it's not included in the reference number, which only highlights the waterproof case and the bracelet. If any of them would have a narrow bezel, what would be the priority? The bracelet? The narrow bezel? The flat dial? I don't pretend to know the answer to that.

I know, that certain ways of looking at this material might suggest, that it's insufficient. However, as far as I know, no resource on the Internets has offered any insight into the topic, and this thread may well be the first to do that. That said, while it's not be a big database or a complete guide to identifying a vintage Eterna, it's the next best thing in terms of the reference numbers. Without contacting the manufacturer, it's not of much use anyway, but I hope that those of you who know the reference numbers of their watches will find it helpful.

I'd also suggest, that those of you who know the reference numbers of their watches post them up here, to turn it into sort of an identification guide. Those of you who don't - you can get the number, and then post the watch and the number here.

I hope that you found this thread interesting, and that it will at some point turns into a "database" project.

Thread originally posted by me at WUS:
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Winston Churchill

A man's got to know his limitations...
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Re: Eterna Reference Number System

Postby Racer-X » September 24th 2017, 2:00pm

Should be stickied - great work MK.
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Re: Eterna Reference Number System

Postby biglove » September 24th 2017, 4:17pm

MK, you continue to make a contribution to this site and the hobby at large.

Good work.
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Re: Eterna Reference Number System

Postby TemerityB » September 24th 2017, 7:49pm

Raising my hand for a sticky as well. This stuff doesn't grow on trees! Well done, MK.
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