Universal Geneve Resources

  1. gatorcpa
    gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator
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     Jan 31, 2013
    Here is the best list I can find for production dates on Universal Geneve watches:

    [IMG]

    I've found it to be pretty accurate based on corroborating evidence such as other web sites and advertising dates of specific models.

    Here is the website for the modern Universal Geneve company. While it doesn't look to be active since 2009 (I think they have since gone out of business), there is some historical information buried there.

    http://www.universal.ch/

    Although I know that most of the major machers here have already seen this site on Polerouters, it is one of the best researched works out there on Polerouters:

    http://www.polerouter.de/index-english.htm

    Hopefully, others can add websites and we can make this one a "sticky" at the top of the forum.
    gatorcpa
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    3. Last post by dsio Feb 11, 2013
  2. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Jan 31, 2013
    Book references:

    Sala's Universal Watch Geneve - restricted to chrongraphs (and only the ones with UG calibers at that so no Valjoux 72 models like the Space Compax), but gorgeous, systematic and an example of what a vintage watch reference should be.
    http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Watch-Genve-Chronographes-Complications/dp/8895684257/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359686457&sr=8-1&keywords=sala universal geneve

    Bonifacio & Rivolta's Universal Geneve - 100 ans de tradition horlogere - a mess, this is a volume that came out in conjunction with Antiquorum's single brand sale (think Omegamania) in 1994, with what looks like heavy involvement by the company and corresponding emphasis on some then-current models that are less than legendary. The best part is the reproduction of the sale catalog in the back of the book.

    gatorcpa
    gatorcpa said
    While it doesn't look to be active since 2009 (I think they have since gone out of business)
    UG is not out of business, but I think it fair to say they are not thriving. They are owned by Stelux, a HongKong holding company that also owns Cyma. It's not clear what the business plan is.
  3. Jimmy M
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     Feb 10, 2013
    That chart of serial numbers from my own limited experience is accurate. I traced my Universal Geneve three register chrono ( before Compax began appearing on the dial) to around 1940 and sure enough below the serial number it says 7 40 (July of 1940)
    In case any forum members do not already know this, Universal Geneve was imported along with Pateks. According to Patek authority John Reardon, Universal Geneve chronographs with the house code HOW have the same DNA as a Patek.
  4. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    I traced my Universal Geneve three register chrono ( before Compax began appearing on the dial) to around 1940 and sure enough below the serial number it says 7 40 (July of 1940)
    Pics, Sir, pics!
  5. dsio
    dsio Ash @ ΩF
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    That chart of serial numbers from my own limited experience is accurate. I traced my Universal Geneve three register chrono ( before Compax began appearing on the dial) to around 1940 and sure enough below the serial number it says 7 40 (July of 1940)
    In case any forum members do not already know this, Universal Geneve was imported along with Pateks. According to Patek authority John Reardon, Universal Geneve chronographs with the house code HOW have the same DNA as a Patek.
    Sorry, could you elaborate on that last part? Are you talking the movements were shared or just that they had the same importer?
  6. Jimmy M
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     Feb 10, 2013
    dsio
    dsio said
    Sorry, could you elaborate on that last part? Are you talking the movements were shared or just that they had the same importer?
    I believe what John Reardon was saying about Patek and Universal Geneve is that some of the models of the UG were of comparable quality... sort of like some Rolex Princes and Gruen duo-dials which were made side by side, or the relationship between Tissot and Omega or Breitling and Wakmann
  7. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    I believe what John Reardon was saying about Patek and Universal Geneve is that some of the models of the UG were of comparable quality... sort of like some Rolex Princes and Gruen duo-dials which were made side by side, or the relationship between Tissot and Omega or Breitling and Wakmann
    I think Reardon's remarks were made during Sotheby's sale of the Fullerton collection last year - I don't think there is all that much to them. The implication from the examples offered above is that Patek and UG shared movements, or even models. I've never seen anything to support that. Mr. Reardon's going to have to convince me if he believes otherwise. UG made chronographs for V&C, JLC, GP, Zenith, Eberhard, but never Patek. They did have the same importer (which just happened to be the Henri Stern agency - M. Stern later headed PP), but I've not seen anything to suggest a closer relationship than that (and I suspect that if there were, UG would hardly have been silent about it!). If anyone is aware of anything, please enlighten us.
  8. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Feb 10, 2013
  9. Jimmy M
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     Feb 10, 2013
    John Reardon actually told me about the supposed similar DNA between UG with the house code HOW and Patek well before the Graves/Fullerton auction. I happened to be wearing my UG when I met him at Sotheby's
  10. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    John Reardon actually told me about the supposed similar DNA between UG with the house code HOW and Patek well before the Graves/Fullerton auction. I happened to be wearing my UG when I met him at Sotheby's
    Most interesting! There's no doubting Reardon's an informed fellow, and I don't think he's casual with his conclusions. I'll be interested in the details of what he knows.
  11. Jimmy M
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     Feb 10, 2013
    dsio likes this.
  12. Jimmy M
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Above is a photo of my gold Universal Geneve chronograph mentioned earlier. Caseback number 731892 with the numbers 7 40 directly below
  13. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    [IMG]
    Really nice, a very classic Compax in all but name. It looks to be in very good condition too, with all of the dial details preserved. When you get a chance, take some pics by natural daylight - I'd love to see more of it.
  14. Jimmy M
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     Feb 10, 2013
    LouS
    LouS said
    Really nice, a very classic Compax in all but name. It looks to be in very good condition too, with all of the dial details preserved. When you get a chance, take some pics by natural daylight - I'd love to see more of it.
    Will do... if I can tomorrow I will try to get a better photo or two in the daylight and post it.
  15. dsio
    dsio Ash @ ΩF
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    [IMG]
    Very nice sir!
  16. LouS
    LouS Pornographe du Chronographe
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    Will do... if I can tomorrow I will try to get a better photo or two in the daylight and post it.
    Oh, don't hold back - the more the better:thumbsup:
  17. gatorcpa
    gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator
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     Feb 10, 2013
    Jimmy M
    Jimmy M said
    John Reardon actually told me about the supposed similar DNA between UG with the house code HOW and Patek well before the Graves/Fullerton auction. I happened to be wearing my UG when I met him at Sotheby's
    There's a link in the Hodinkee article to an eBay auction for an ad for the Tri-Compax. I'd figure I'd better upload it here, before it goes away:



    Here's another one, that shows a 1947 copyright date:



    This certainly shows that there was some relationship between Henri Stern and Universal, at least with respect to watches sold in the USA. According to the Wikipedia site on Universal:

    "Hermès' Paris headquarters would in turn act as a major sales hub for all Universal brand watches in Europe until the 1950s, while the Henri Stern Watch Agency in Manhattan, the U.S. distributorship of Patek Philippe, would be an official Universal Genève dealer in North America."
    8 "Apparel arts". Esquire 22: 137. 1952

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Genève

    The picture in the article of the movement seems to show an HOX code, rather than HOW. I found this picture of a similar Tri-Compax cal. 481 movement out on the web that shows more detail:

    [IMG]

    Here is a listing from Christies that shows a Patek Philippe chronograph that also shows this US export mark, as per the auction description:

    http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/...s.aspx?pos=8&intObjectID=5395414&sid=&page=38

    In looking at Dr. Rafft's website, the export code "HOX" was assigned to IWC.

    http://www.ranfft.de/uhr/info-uscode-e.html

    Not sure what this means in this context, since the watch is clearly made by Universal and I don't think IWC ever used Universal movements in their chronographs. FWIW, the people over at the IWC forum are confused by this anomaly as well.

    http://www.iwc.com/forum/en/discussion/11586/

    Here's another cal. 481 with the code "UOW", which was assigned to Universal Geneve:

    [IMG]

    However, I suspect that both of the above pictured watches, as well as the Fullerton specimen are older than 1947, and thus may predate the relationship between Stern and Universal.

    In any case, I highly doubt the existence of any relationship between the two companies in Switzerland over and above having the same company import their watches to the USA. Much like the relationship between LeCoultre, Longines and Vacheron & Constantin (which also shared a US distributor) in the 1950's.

    I think there is a research article here just waiting to be written.
    gatorcpa

    Note - I've edited this post at least six times as I continue to turn up more information.
  18. BenClymer
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     Feb 11, 2013
    Hi Guys,

    Ben here. Just wanted to chime in and see if I can offer some help re: John Reardon's comments. I do not believe he meant to insinuate that UG and PP had a working relationship in the manufacture of timepieces - I do not believe they did. I can assume all John meant by his remarks was that UG was distributed by HSWA alongside PP for a period in the mid-20th century and as such, shared some marketing collateral and points of sale - and of course used the same "HOX" US-import stamp. He, as a former long-time employee of HSWA, was certainly privy to historical information regarding the relationship with Universal, so perhaps he knows something we don't, but I would wager he just meant they shared some history here in the US. Of course, the US was PP's most important market during the earlier part of last century, and for HSWA to take on one other brand, and it being UG, certainly says a lot about the quality of these great old watches. I've spoken to folks at HSWA about my own Universals and the elder employees refer to them very fondly, and many still own a handful of them.

    So, as others have stated above, UG has zero technical tie to Patek (though the Tri-Compax models certainly look a lot like the early Patek 1518's), but they do share a certain connection - one that HSWA is still proud of today.

    BTW - I want to thank LouS for taking the time to begin this forum. I can honestly say it will be one I visit frequently.

    Best,

    Ben
  19. Jimmy M
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     Feb 11, 2013
  20. Jimmy M
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     Feb 11, 2013