Man of Many’s Take
Bursting with detail, this Universal Geneve is like a masterful symphony in watch form. Between the chronograph and beautiful hobnail detail on the bezel —it performs a delirious balancing act between form and function. We should have kept this one off the list so we could bid on it ourselves!
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.
Like many a 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 39mm stainless steel case is in excellent to collector quality condition. There are minor scratches from light 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 as well as what is believed to be the original caseback sticker and Universal Geneve stamped leather strap.
The Dial and Hands
The dial and hands of this watch are in excellent to collector quality condition. There are no scratches or faults to report on any of the dial components. The lume is full and has just barely started to age.
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.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Automatic, caliber 98|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Original Leather Strap|