Universal - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV Geneva Friday, November 5, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Universal
    Year: 1971
    Reference No: 885.107
    Case No: 2'892'741
    Model Name: Compax
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. UG 85 (Valjoux 72), 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Gay Frères for Universal Genève bracelet with endlinks stamped "UP", max length 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Gay Frères for Universal Genève deployant clasp stamped "2 68"
    Dimensions: 36mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed by maker, clasp further signed by bracelet maker
    Accessories: Accompanied by Universal Genève Extract from the Archives confirming production of the watch with exotic dial in 1971, detailed Universal Genève service papers from 2021 and service box and sleeve.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The history of Universal Genève mirrors the history of the chronograph wristwatch. Founded in 1894 in Le Locle as Universal Watch, the brand initially began as a workshop assembling watch parts. However, by the early 20th-century the founders patented their first 24-hour timepiece. During World War I, they manufactured pocket watches and wristwatches for both sides of the war effort. In 1936, Universal Genève released their first Aero Compax model and it is from this beginning that collectors today appreciate their timepieces, with names such as Uni-Compax, Tri-Compax, and the famed Polerouter designed by Gerald Genta. Today, Universal’s chronograph wristwatches are highly sought after both for their modern mid-20th century aesthetic, fascinating dial variations, and superb quality.

    The Compax model is without a doubt one of the most sought-after Universal chronographs. A tool watch for racers, it was in direct competition with the likes of Rolex's Daytona or Omega's Speedmaster. It is also famously linked with the wife of the famed Formula One driver Jochen Rindt - Nina Rindt - who wore it at the time. The model was offered with a variety of dial configurations: the standard configuration presents white or black background with contrasting subsidiary counters, and is known as ref. 885103. Universal however released also two much scarcer "Exotic" versions, each with its own reference: 885108 - white counters, light blue "T", blue dial - and the present, opposite version 885107 with blue counters, grey "T" and silvered background. Intriguingly, one of the direct competitors of this model - the Rolex Daytona - also featured at the time a similar selection, with standard black and silver dials, and a more unusual "Exotic" variation (now better known as "Paul Newman").

    This striking Universal Genève Compax remains in remarkable condition, and the fact that it was serviced at Universal Geneva (as detailed by the invoice, a purely mechanical service, without any kind of intervention to the dial or case) ensures its perfect working order. Furthermore, it is accompanied by a very rare Gay Frères "double rice bead" bracelet. Normally, Compax chronographs came with a leather strap, but few pieces were fitted with bracelets. Later production pieces employed the less scarce "Universal Made in USA" or "J.B. Champion" bracelets, while early production watches used exquisite Gay Frères items such as the present one. It is not unlikely that the cost of Gay Frères bracelets prompted Universal Genève to switch supplier.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1894

    Universal Genève was founded in Le Locle, Switzerland in 1894 and was originally known as "Universal Watch." Since its inception, Universal Genève has produced watches with unusually high quality for their price point. Universal was among the first brands to introduce a chronograph wristwatch.

    Today, the firm's vintage models are highly sought-after and desired for their oversized cases and interesting dial designs. Key models include a variety of "Compax" models such as the "Nina Rindt" or "Evil Nina," the Uni-Compax, the Space-Compax, the Aero-Compax and the Film-Compax.

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Ref. 885.107
A stunning and highly uncommon stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with "Exotic" blue dial and Gay Freres bracelet

36mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed by maker, clasp further signed by bracelet maker

CHF15,000 - 30,000 

Sold for CHF40,320

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East Director

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV

Geneva Auction 5 & 7 November 2021