Universal Genève 18ct Pink Gold 1961
It is a surprise to most people outside the watch community that Universal Genève was once one of the biggest players in the watch industry. Since its early beginnings in 1894, Universal has been highly respected for producing complete watches with in-house movements and it went on, throughout most of the 20th century to deliver numerous important ‘firsts’ in watchmaking. Along with Audemars Piguet, Girard Perregaux, Patek Philippe and Rolex, Universal Genève is world renown, not only for its innovation, craftsmanship and quality but for its true Swiss manufacture status. This is impressive in its self, but when one considers the company mainly produced advanced chronograph movements, this makes Universal almost unique.
Some Universal firsts: The company was the first company to produce a wrist-worn chronograph in 1917 when the notion of a timepiece worn on a wrist was still a novelty amongst gentlemen of a certain standing. In 1925 the brand submitted some of the first patents for the self-winding watch, called the Auto Rem. In 1934: The creation of the double push-button Compur chronograph wristwatch, which was the first movement equipped with two column wheels. In 1944: The company presents the Tri-Compax. an hour-counter chronograph, with triple-date calendar and moon-phase display, which went on to become one of watchmaking’s greatest 20th-century commercial successes.
Universal also became famous in the latter half of the century for its ‘Polerouter’, created by the famous watch designer Gerald Genta. This watch was aimed at and taken up by airline pilots who made flights over the Arctic. Its Cal.215 microrotor movement was another first which has been adopted by many high-end manufacturers such as Patek Philippe.
In 1955, Univeral Genève created and patented the Microrotor Automatic, a new type of self-winding movement with an oscillating weight integrated within the movement. This was first used in the Universal Cal.215, which was a forerunner of the watch you see here. Until then, all automatic watches used a large rotor with a central pivot.
Later in 1966, Universal created the world’s thinnest self-winding movement at a mere 2.5mm, the Cal.UG66, which was fitted to the Universal ‘Golden Shadow’.
The ‘sunburst’ dial with applied pink gold ‘baton hour indices and original, thin ‘index’ hands is very understated and reminds us of the equivalent Patek automatics of the same period. The profile across the dial undulates slightly, to accentuate the reflective properties of the dial, as one rotates the wrist while wearing the watch. The effect is subtle, but eye-catching and very attractive. The colour also changes slightly depending on the ambient light, from a pale yellow, through champagne, to a more golden sunburst yellow. We have tried to capture this in the photographs, but the dial and watch are far more impressive on the wrist and in real life. The contrast with the pink gold hands, batons and case is particularly pleasing and even the small date window is attractively shaped, in preference to the more usual box window.
Perhaps the most notable feature of this dial is its complete originality. The dial has not been restored or retouched in any way and even more remarkably, is in tip-top condition and shows no signs of ageing, visible to the naked eye. Only very close up, under high magnification can some of the slightest signs of spots be found. This is remarkable for a watch over 50 years old, indicating this watch has led a charmed life.
The original Universal Calibre 218 – 2, 28 jewels, micro-rotor automatic movement is surely the star of the show. The Geneva Stripes and highly polished surfaces are always a good indication of quality. Also the number of jewels, to a degree, and the large escapement wheel with Girocap shock protected cap jewels. As you can see it is all beautifully finished and is evidence of very high quality.
As can be seen, this highly advanced movement uses a much smaller rotor than usual which is integrated as part of the movement. This saved a great deal of space and made possible a thinner watch case. It also enabled the full case height to be exploited by the movement drivetrain. This is the reason Patek Philippe uses this system in their leading high-end movements, as do most automatic chronographs.
The movement has been thoroughly overhauled and serviced by our watchmaker. This means fully dismantling the watch and movement, ultrasonic cleaning of all parts, close inspection of the critical surfaces under high magnification and replacement as required only with genuine original parts, then careful reassembly and oiling, using all the correct lubricants to manufacturer’s specification, before final testing and careful calibration. The movement here has a micro regulator allowing very fine calibration of the movement. This watch is therefore now running perfectly having been calibrated, tested and timed at +10 seconds per day! Please note, this timing is outstanding for any watch of this age and one of the best results we have seen this year and the power reserve is also excellent at 57 hours when fully wound. The watch movement is signed ‘Universal Genève’ and Swiss’ and carries the Calibre number 218 – 2.
*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only included if the list price is paid.
The Watch Case
The high quality original Universal Swiss made, 18ct pink gold case is of a sleek design with a thin bezel, sweeping lugs and a strong, press fit case-back. The case measures 34mm, not including the original signed Universal crown. The yellow gold colour of the crown is, we believe, original.
The case-back is of full thickness and has never been engraved. Cleaned, carefully inspected and lightly hand-polished by our case-maker, it shows every sign it has been lightly used and well cared for and has no scratches, dings or other marks visible to the naked eye. The inside of the case-back is all correctly signed ‘Universal Genève’ and ‘Swiss’ with the Universal brand and along with 18ct hallmarks. Externally, the case-back carries the serial number 2152615 and the case reference number 1046031.
As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap and Buckle
The strap fitted is a new black Alligator strap with a gold-plated buckle. Please note, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige, free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown burgundy and black straps in stock, in plain, padded leather, alligator, crocodile or lizard skin.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating the watch to c1961.
Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.
The watch also comes complete with a high quality hardwood presentation box as shown in the photographs.
This is a very impressive and very rare vintage Universal gentleman’s dress watch, containing a very high quality movement, which is ready to wear and very practical for everyday use. If treated with care, this watch will make an excellent investment or heirloom piece. Universal has always benefitted from a first class reputation for the superb quality of their watch movements, just as in the case of Longines, which have been undervalued in the past. With an enormous rise in the interest of vintage watches in the past five years, this disparity is becoming more evident and beginning to result in a well deserved increasing value of Universal watches.
A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before we then restore them to the highest possible standards. We then offer our watches at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept payment via PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would like to pay by UK cheque or by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving in transaction charges to you.
Please check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and unfortunately out of our control.
We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges, however attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.
For those that happen to visit the UK on occasion we are of course more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and your watch directly to you there.
If you have any questions please call on Landline 0207 727 7095 or Mobile 07515 949250 or if calling from overseas on Landline +44 207 727 7095 or Mobile +44 7515 949250.
Please note, we also welcome part exchanges.
Please take a look at our other vintage gold watches.
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- Store Name: Vintage Gold Watches London Ltd
- Vendor: Vintage Gold Watches London Ltd
96 Kensington High Street
United Kingdom (UK)
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