Universal - Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS Hong Kong Sunday, May 26, 2019 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Universal
    Year: Circa 1950s
    Model Name: Polerouter
    Material: Yellow gold-plated stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 215, 28 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Metallic buckle with patina
    Dimensions: 35 mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: A letter of provenance written and signed by Mark Ashton-Jackson, son of Herb Jackson, attesting that the watch was a gift from Bruce Lee to his father. Also accompanied by a period photograph of Lee wearing his signature aviator sunglasses
    Literature: The exact same watch was featured in Jeet Kune Do titled “Herb Jackson’s Fight for Freedom,” which details Herb Jackson’s experience as Bruce Lee’s student. The exact same UG watch was featured in the article, as “a watch that Bruce gave to Herb”.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Considered one of the greatest and most influential martial artists ever, Bruce Lee was also an actor and director who found stardom in both the East and West. He was, in short, a cultural icon of the 20th century.

    Lee battled giants in the realm of martial arts, in real life and on film, and founded his own school of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. Along the way he conquered both social and cultural barriers, and even today is hailed for having transformed the perception of Asian actors in the world.

    Decades after his death, Lee continues to shape popular culture - Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century in 1999. And in 2005, a larger than life bronze statue of Lee was unveiled in Hong Kong, right on the water's edge and facing the city's famous Victoria Harbor.

    Throughout his epic career, Lee was photographed with a wristwatch. Notably, Lee, who was also famed for his distinctive personal style, usually had his watches on a cuff-style leather strap, presumably his favorite way to wear a watch. Lee's selection of timepieces includes this very Universal Geneve Polerouter, once owned and worn by the legend himself.

    confirming the provenance of the watch, the present lot is accompanied by a letter from the former owner confirming that Lee gifted the watch to his father, Herb Jackson, one of Lee's earliest students and later a close friend. The letter further states the watch was owned and worn by Lee, who gave it to Jackson around 1968.

    Further enhancing the provenance, the exact same timepiece was featured in a profile of Jackson published in Jeet June Do magazine in 2001. The story not only detailed Jackson's experience as a student and friend of Lee, illustrated with the custom training equipment Jackson built for Lee, but also featured the exact same Universal Geneve wristwatch, described as "a watch that Bruce gave to Herb".

    The incredible provenance of this historic timepiece is enriched by photos showing Lee wearing the watch, as far as one can see, when he was martial arts choreographer for The Wrecking Crew, a film in 1968, the same year the watch was given to Jackson.

    Lee was known to have owned an array of watches, with some having been presented to him on important occasions. Most significant were Lee's own watches, which he was known to gift to close friends and colleagues like Jackson. The present lot therefore presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own one of the most historically and culturally important watches.

  • 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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This Lot is to be Sold with No Reserve


Lot offered with No Reserve

A very rare and historically interesting yellow gold-plated stainless steel wristwatch with sweep center seconds and a letter of provenance, formerly owned by legendary actor and martial artist Bruce Lee

Circa 1950s
35 mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$80,000 - 150,000 

Sold for HK$225,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2019