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Eterna S.A. began life in 1856 in Grenchen, a small town in the northwest of Switzerland near other famous watch-making towns such as Biel, La Chaux de-Fonds and Le Locle. The original name of the company was U. Schild, after its co-founder schoolteacher Urs Schild, who set up the company with doctor Josef Girard.
In 1906 the name of the company changed to 'Eterna-Werke', and in 1932 it divided into 'Eterna S.A.' which specialised in precision movements, and 'ETA S.A.' which concentrated on making raw movements.
In 1948 Eterna produced their first rotor automatic, the 'Eterna-Ematic', in the ladies' cal. 1198. The outstanding innovation in this calibre was the mounting of the rotor on 5 ball bearings, each of 0.65mm diameter. This arrangement produced a particularly low friction and rugged mounting for the rotor, which together with a low friction springless double click wheel allowed bi-directional winding.
A similar layout was used in the first men's rotor movement, the cal. 1248 of 1950. The double click wheel was later replaced (1956) by two thin beryllium click wheels side by side, which increased transmission capability and allowed a considerable reduction in movement height.
So successful was the basic design of this movement, that all Eterna automatic movements ever since have incorporated the 5 ball bearings and have been called 'Eterna-Ematic'.