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Founded in Le Locle in 1894, Universal Genève established itself from its earliest days as a manufacturer of in-house movements of exceptional quality. The acquisition of movement designer and complications expert Louis Eduoard Berthoud in 1897 ensured Universal Genève's supremacy in the development of complicated watches into the 20th Century. By the 1930s, Universal Genève recognized a need for chronograph wristwatches for military and motorsport applications.
The brand answered that need with the introduction of the Compur in 1933 and the Aero-Compax in 1936. It is with these chronographs that Universal Genève excelled and pushed into the public view. Their Compax line of chronographs quickly attracted the attention of some of Europe's elite, including the Dutch royal family, who in 1939 granted a royal warrant to Universal Genève to supply chronographs to the Dutch military.
While the Tri-Compax is perhaps the most famous of these--especially the latter versions with its panda or reverse panda dial coloring--we admit a certain attraction to chronographs with more obscure uses. The Medico-Compax, introduced in the late 1940s, features a unique scale on the outer edge of the dial: a pulsometer or pulsograph. Designed for those in the medical profession, a pulsometer measures heartbeats per minute on a scale of 15 to 30 heart beats. To calculate a patient's pulse, the wearer would stop the chronograph at the patient's 15th or 30th heartbeat, and the patient's pulse would then be indicated on the dial without any additional calculations necessary.
Pulsometer scales have been appearing on watches in recent years, most notably by Blancpain and Longines. But there's something to be said for the charm of this vintage piece, with its dial aged to a lovely creamy hue. Whether you're a doctor or a nurse, or just desire a chronograph with an unusual function, it would certainly be an interesting (and rare!) addition to your collection.
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Cal. 285 manually-winding movement. Circa 1940s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in good condition, with sharp bevels on the lugs, brush finishing, and no signs of over-polishing. Case does show some signs of oxidation near the pushers but is in otherwise good condition. Dial has some discoloration along the outer edge but is otherwise in good condition, with a fine even patina. Luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands have also patinated to a lovely dark hue. Unsigned crown; unsigned snap case back.
Includes one 18mm Islay analog/shift strap and two 18mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.