Monday Morning Find: A Glowing Universal Genève Triple Calendar
This one's for the watch nerds. Universal Genève has been dormant for a few decades, but its midcentury watches are favorites among the vintage-loving crowd. The combination chronograph calendars known as Tri-Compax are the most popular, but this simpler triple calendar has an uncluttered dial that's really lovely.
Universal Genève's pedigree is tough to beat. In the U.S., the brand was one of only two distributed and sold by the Henri Stern Watch Agency. (The other was Patek Philippe.) Today, that agency is still the U.S. subsidiary of Patek. UG's Polerouter watch was the first ever to utilize a mirco-rotor to wind the automatic movement (in addition to the watch also being antimagnetic) and was designed by Gerald Genta, the creator of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Then there are the awesome sporty racing chronographs that compete with the best. I could go on, but I'll spare you.
Over the years, Universal Genève made a lot of variations on the triple calendar, but this has to be one of the best. Officially it's the reference 11305, but even the most diehard collectors won't know what that means. The dial is pearly white with applied gold numerals and a mixture of metal, blue, and red hands. There's a running seconds dial on the left, the date on the right, and both the month and moonphase down at 6 o'clock. Just above the logo is a small window for the day of the week. The calendar indications are all in Spanish, too, though you definitely don't need to be fluent to enjoy it.
The case is a shade of pink gold that's hard to find in modern watches. It looks almost like the metal's been heated up and is glowing. While the stamped serial number is still visible on the caseback, the arched lugs look as if they've been polished once or twice. They're not shapeless, but the facet is subtle instead of razor sharp. The best part, though, is the original matching gold bracelet. Almost without exception, if you find a watch like this with a a bracelet, it's been added later, but the tone of the gold mesh matches perfectly, and the clasp carries a crisp Universal Genève logo. Plenty of fans would buy the watch for the bracelet alone.
While buying vintage watches from a reputable source is always a good idea (though there are incredible things to be found on eBay and in junk shops), Universal Genève presents its own problems. As I mentioned, there are tons of variations on basic configurations with UG. That means the difference between a fake watch and a perfect watch can be nearly unnoticeable, and there is sometimes debate as to what's correct vs. what's retouched. As the brand has become more popular in the vintage market, the number of tricky fakes has skyrocketed.
This Universal Genève triple calendar is available from the Christie's Watch Shop and is priced at $8,500.