The rich history of the Eterna company and the brand are a stark contrast with the state of its current former self. The original ebauche company “Dr. Girard & Schild” was founded in 1856 by Josef Girard and Urs Schild. They changed the name to Eterna in 1905 when they started making wristwatches.
A few ownership changes happened through the years and one of them was the Porsche Design group. Fast forward to 2012 when the Chinese company Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group acquired Eterna. This post is not about the history, the brand or their watches and just focuses on their head office in Grenchen.
The current headquarters of Eterna is in a building that was originally in the 1950s and has been home for Eterna since 1973. I have searched for images of the building but surprisingly only a very small number show up in searches. The Eterna website only shows a cropped image of the front entrance.
I was travelling in Switzerland in September 2022 and checked out a few of the headquarters and other locations of some the well known Swiss watch brands. As a big fan of the brand and their watches, it was disappointing to find the Eterna headquarters in Grenchen pretty empty.
There were no more signs on the building showing this actually is their headquarters. There was some old mail and newspapers at the front entrance. I peeked through the windows and the lobby just had some old furniture arranged in a way for storage. It didn’t look like anyone would be back anytime soon.
There is a display with barometer, hygrometer and thermometer in the front of the building. It is a gift of the Eterna trade agents that were in 131 countries all over the world. I don’t know how many countries still have agents for Eterna but I assume it is a fraction of what it once was.
The back of the building allowed another view of a completely empty area and looked like the former shipping and receiving departments. This definitely did not look like anyone would be back here soon.
An article from 2014 shows many pictures of the inside of the building when lots of things were still happening. I could not see any of the upper floors from the outside but it looked like the entire building was empty. I do not know if Eterna moved somewhere else in Grenchen or even Switzerland. Their headquarters could also be in another country now. Even though they still seem to make Swiss-made watches but we haven’t heard much from Eterna lately.
Eterna went through bankruptcy in 2018 and we can only speculate what Citychamps’ plans are for the brand. There may be something fishy about what’s going on with this company. Best case scenario is the Eterna brand will be sold to a company that cares about it and will (partly) bring it back to its former glory. Or just shut it down and let iEterna be remembered by all its history, achievements and watches from the past.
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Citychamp is just an absentee landlord. The same situation exists with Corum and Dreyfuss (including Rotary) watch companies which are also owned by Citychamp. The watches, themselves, are assembled in China with just the minimal Swiss component percentage to qualify as “Swiss Made.”
The Grenchen building is just a skeleton manned by an elevator full of junior executives pushing pencils. Actual watchmaking is too costly due to Swiss salaries. Citychamp will sell off Eterna sooner or later but it lacks the capital to elevate the product line for a higher selling price. It is left withering on the vine as a result.
Dreyfuss has been mothballed and will no longer be active, they’re currently relaunching rotary for the 4th time (if I remember correctly) so we’re no longer stocking rotary or dryfuss now and they’re making it almost impossible to stock eterna.
I tried to buy watches for my business last year and the girl who deals with sales was on maternity leave and seemingly she’s the only person in the department
Somebody like Jean-Claude Biver needs to buy it and revive it.
Eterna when discussed should be spoken about in the same terms that Omega is. It just needs a better owner.
Eterna has been a sad story of mismanagement, starting from when the Porsche family bought the company..
Wie Recht du hast 😭