Universal Geneve Watches (UG)
It is a surprise to many people that Universal Genève was once one of the biggest players in the watch industry. Since its early beginnings in 1894, the company was always very highly regarded for producing high-quality watches with completely in-house made movements. This was unusual because traditionally, companies would buy in many watch parts or even complete movements (Ébauches).
Throughout most of the 20th century, Universal Genève also delivered many important ‘firsts’ in watchmaking. Along with its neighbours, Audemars Piguet, Girard Perregaux, Patek Philippe and Rolex, Universal is world renown, not only for its innovation, craftsmanship and quality but for its true ‘Swiss ‘manufacture’ status. This is very impressive in itself, but when one considers the company specialised in the manufacture of advanced chronograph movements, this makes Universal almost unique.
Some Universal Genève firsts include: The first wrist-worn chronograph, in 1917, when the notion of a timepiece worn on a wrist was still a novelty amongst gentlemen of a certain standing. In 1925 it submitted some of the first patents for the self-winding watch, called the Auto Rem. In 1934: The creation of the double push-button Compur Chronograph wristwatch, which was the first movement equipped with two column wheels. In 1944: The company presented the Tri-Compax. an hour-counter chronograph, with triple-date calendar and moon-phase display, which went on to become one of watchmaking’s greatest 20th-century commercial successes.
Universal also became famous in the latter half of the century for its ‘Polerouter’. Initially created for Scandinavian Air Services, this watch was created by the famous watch designer Gerald Genta. It was worn by airline pilots making flights to California via the Arctic Circle for the first time. The Polerouter Cal.215 micro-rotor movement was another first, taking up much less space than an external rotor. This design has been adopted by many high-end manufacturers such as Patek Philippe and Lange & Söhne