Founded in Le Locle in 1894, Universal Genève established itself from its earliest days as a manufacturer of in-house movements of exceptional quality. They were also famed for making elegant and complicated wristwatches back in their heyday- becoming known as a more accessible alternative to Patek Philippe. Not only that, but the brand has a longstanding heritage in producing exceptional chronographs with a lineage that can be traced back to as early as 1927.
One such example is the Compur. First released by Universal Genève in the early 1930s when wristwatches were becoming mainstream, the Compur was the brand’s first ‘modern’ chronograph and cemented their position as the premier chronograph manufacturer in Switzerland. This particular example we have on offer here houses the manual-winding Universal Genève Cal. 285 and comes in an oversized 38mm case, which is a rarity for the era it was produced in.
While its oversized case makes this particular Universal Geneve a rarity, it is made even more special by the fact that it was constructed by the famed case maker Jeanneret. Back in the day, it was common practice for brands to outsource case making, with one of the most collectable Universal cases being those made by Spillman. In a similar vein, while more under the radar, Jenneret cases are incredibly difficult to come by and is made distinctive by it’s dual-faceted angular lugs, giving the watch a very nice presence.
Moving on to its dial, this particular Compur model boasts a striking and distinctive 'sandwich' dial design (an unusual configuration that is not typically found on Compur models), with perforated index markers at the centre portion of the dial that reveal the underlying gold plate, a seconds sub-dial on the left and a 45-minute counter on the right. Adding to the overall aesthetic, the dial also showcases a tachymeter scale in blue and a telemeter scale in red, visually contrasting with the watch's yellow-gold tones.
Indeed, the Compur model had a relatively short production run in Universal Genève's catalogue of horological offerings, as it was eventually succeeded by the Uni-Compax, which debuted in the latter half of the 1930s and gradually replaced the Compur from 1940 onwards. As a result, early examples of the Compur, particularly ones like the one we have here with the rare 'sandwich' dial configuration, have become exceptionally scarce and arduous to find due to their limited production period.
Overall, this Compur can be described as a horological time capsule, preserving the essence of a bygone era and serving as a testament to Universal Genève's exceptional technical capabilities during its prime. To be able to offer this extraordinary example on our site today is a real delight.