Universal Geneve Hobnail Chronograph

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Auction Expired because there were no bids

A previous version of this reference with a black dial appeared on Dial + Bezel. Check out that listing here.

The History

Universal Geneve is as storied an institution as any in the watchmaking world. Dating back to the late 19th century, and through various names and iterations, they have produced some of the finest watches to come into existence. While there is too much history behind the brand to cover in one piece, we’ll focus specifically on some of their early pieces. If you are interested in diving deeper into the world of Universal Geneve then we highly recommend the Universal Geneve chronographs and complicated wristwatches book by Pietro Giuliano Sala.

The most recognizable of the Universal Geneve chronographs is undoubtedly the Compax and Tri-Compax line. But before those ruled the roost, there was the Compur family of Chronographs. The Compur line was developed during an interesting inflection point for the brand. In 1934 they moved to a cutting edge production facility. Three years later, they would trademark the “Universal Geneve” name along with a new logo featuring a shield with a helf wheel and half dial in its center. With World War II just over the horizon, the entire watch industry would be tremendously challenged. Universal, however, bucked the trend and continued to see demand increase throughout the war as their watches were issued by militaries on both sides of the conflict while also finding distribution in the US via the Henry Stern Watch Agency, the same distributor responsible for bringing Patek Philippe to US soil. Suffice to say, the history of chronograph watches cannot be told without mention of Universal Geneve, a history that would be leveraged by modern collectors for decades to come.

The Reference

Like many Swiss watch brands, Universal Geneve struggled to survive the quartz crisis of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Falling on hard times UG was sold in 1989 to Hong Kong-based investment firm Stelux Holdings International, Ltd., the same holding company that owned Cyma. Under their guidance, Universal attempted a resurrection starting with the watch we have today, a UG Tri-Compax Chronograph. The reference 104.42.980 comes from the early 2000’s and features what Universal Geneve called their caliber 98, essentially a branded Valjoux 7750. Unfortunately, the attempted resurrection failed to bring the brand up to its past glory. While Universal Geneve is still active today, it is a shell of its former self as its vintage pieces continue to carry the bulk of the brand’s legacy.

The Case

The 39mm stainless steel case is in very good condition. There are minor scratches throughout the case from wear and some very minimal dirt built up in parts of the hobnail bezel that could be easily cleaned. The watch wears all of its original components including crown and pushers.

The Dial and Hands

The dial and hands of this watch are in very good condition. There are no scratches or faults to report on any of the dial components. The lume is full but does show some dirt build-up in some places particularly on the hands. Additionally, the crystal shows a number of scratches that should be noted.

The Movement

This watch is powered by what Universal Geneve was calling their caliber 98, essentially a branded Valjoux 7750. The watch is currently running with all functions of the chronograph working as expected. The service history of the watch is unknown.


Seller Livingstonsatnight
Auction Number 162
Location New York City
Brand Universal Geneve
Model Chronograph
Reference Number 104.42.980
Movement Automatic, caliber 98
Year 2000's
Dial White and Silver
Case Width 39mm
Case Material Stainless Steel
Band Material Leather Strap
Clasp Type Buckle
Original Box No
Original Papers No
Seller Type Individual

Auction has expired

Auction Expired because there were no bids
Auction started
November 18, 2020 7:00 am

Auction Expired

Auction Expired because there were no bids

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