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Universal Genève was founded in 1894 by Numa-Emile Descombes and Ulysse George Perret. In the brand's earliest days, it established itself as a manufacturer of in-house movements of exceptional quality. Universal Genève was also among the first watch manufacturers to specialize in wristwatches. In 1897, Louis Eduoard Berthoud--noted designer of complicated watch movements--joined the company. This ensured Universal Genève's supremacy in the development of complicated watches in the 20th Century.
It was under Berthoud's leadership that the brand's reputation as a producer of chronographs was solidified. Chronographs, in particular--namely the Compur and the Compax lines--attracted the attention of watch aficionados, aviators, and militaries around the world. Even the Royal Family of the Netherlands issued a royal charter for Universal Genève to outfit the Dutch military with its chronographs.
As with Longines and Wittnauer, Universal Genève also released watches outside of Switzerland under another name. Berthoud's was used from the 1920s until the 1940s, in countries such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, France, South Africa--even Iraq. This chronograph dates from this period, roughly 1937.
The watch has definite traces of a Bauhaus influence, evident on the dial with its stark Arabic numerals and uncluttered layout. At 35mm it's a good size to suit modern tastes. Its curved lugs and uniquely-shaped crown are elegant accents.
And even though it may not have the name Universal Genève on the dial, the movement is Universal Genève's Caliber 385 manually-wound chronograph movement. The same movement found in their more famous Compur and Compax watches, the Caliber 385 is a variation of the earlier Caliber 285, with a flat hairspring instead of a Breguet hairspring. With elegant looks and a reliable movement, this chronograph is everything you could ask for.
18k rose gold case is approximately 35mm (excluding crown and pushers). Universal Geneve Calibre 285 Manually-Winding Chronograph Movement. Circa 1940s.
Overall Condition: 18k rose gold case is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age, including some dents on the side of the case and case back. Dial is in very good condition with some slight scratches near 4 o'clock and 2 o'clock. Hands show some oxidation but are in otherwise good condition. Unsigned crown; unsigned case back.
Includes one 17mm black leather strap.