Universal - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: X Hong Kong Friday, July 10, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Manufacturer: Universal
    Year: Circa 1950s
    Movement No: 2602
    Case No: 22'560-75
    Model Name: A. Cairelli, Military Rattrapante
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 285, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Nylon
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 44.5mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed, dial signed A. Cairelli
    Accessories: Further delivered with Universal Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with 24-hour dial in the 1950s.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The first split-seconds chronograph mechanisms were found in pocket watches of the late 19th century when they were used for intermediate timing events such as lap times during horse racing, however by the turn of the century, and with the evolution of the wristwatch, single button (monopusher) chronographs became available, and in 1923 Patek Philippe sold the world’s first split-seconds chronograph wristwatch, which set the design for all that followed. Today, these timepieces are collectors’ favourite known for their complicated movements and classic aesthetic, and in particular oversized military split-chronographs from the mid-20th century are highly sought after. Manufactured by brands like Rolex, Eberhard, Breitling and Universal, these extreme timepieces are cool, masculine and iconic.

    The present Universal split-seconds timepiece is a rare model made for the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Italian Air Force. Supplied through the well-known retailer A. Cairelli of Rome, the watch was used for navigation at a time when flight crews used dead reckoning and beacons to find their way. Universal chose a 24-hour dial design with 16-minute subsidiary register, which in the oversized 44.5mm diameter case is legible and easy to read during night missions. The retailer’s signature is prominently displayed at the 6 position and found on many military timepieces of the 20th century that are now highly collectible. Powered by the Valjoux 55 caliber, the same found in the famed Rolex reference 4113, it is a testament to precision timekeeping and functionality.

    Preserved in excellent overall condition, the present example has a nicely aged original dial and confirmed through the Universal archives to have been manufactured as a “military rattrapante” wristwatch. It is a rare opportunity for collectors to encounter such fine timepieces and even more rare to own an example. The collaboration between the Italian Ministry of Defence and the retailer A. Cairelli is part of horological history, and these fine timepieces like the Universal split-chronograph will please all collectors.

  • 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.

    View More Works


An extremely rare oversized stainless steel split-seconds military chronograph wristwatch with 24-hour dial signed “A. Cairelli” official supplier to Italian Ministry of Defence

Circa 1950s
44.5mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed, dial signed A. Cairelli

HK$465,000 - 930,000 

Sold for HK$650,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi

Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001



The Hong Kong Watch Auction: X

Hong Kong Auction 10 July 2020