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While there is admittedly a bias toward steel sports watches from the 1960s, there’s a certain charm about their predecessors from the 1940s. Take those made by Universal Genève, for example. The brand enjoyed something of a renewed appreciation in recent years, with particular focus on steel, sport watches like the “Nina Rindt” Compax or the Tri-Compax favored by master musician, Eric Clapton.
These watches are seen by many collectors as the culmination of Universal Genève’s prowess in creating chronographs; however, while that might be true, this legacy began long before Nina Rindt strapped a Compax to her wrist.
Universal Genève introduced the Tri-Compax in 1944, at the Basel World Fair. The year was an auspicious one, marking the company’s 50th anniversary. Such an important occasion deserved an important watch, and the Tri-Compax certainly didn’t disappoint.
As the “Compax” in the name suggests, Universal Genève intended it to supplement its bestselling line of chronographs, adding many more functions than those a mere chronograph: a calendar and a moon phase indicator.
Complicated wristwatches had long been Universal Genève’s forte, but never before had they been so perfectly expressed.
These three complications were housed in a variety of cases, from pure 14k or 18k gold to the stainless steel, like the Reference 22250 from the mid-1940s featured here. The gold variants were, of course, more expensive, but even those in stainless steel cost a hefty sum. For example, this particular Reference 22250 might have retailed for $155 in 1940—$2,196.05 in today’s money.
As one can infer from the price, Universal Genève advertised the Tri-Compax as being useful for “every business and professional man.” While that may not ring true in this age of smartwatches, there’s an undeniable utility in having all the necessary information right on your wrist, without having to touch a screen. With this example's elegant silver dial and fancy beveled lugs — not to mention original strap, UG buckle and period-correct box — you'd be hard-pressed to find all that information presented in a nicer package than this.
Stainless Steel case is approximately 34.5mm (excluding crown). Reference 22250 Universal Genève Cal. 481 Manually-Winding Chronograph Movement. 1940s.
Overall Condition: The stainless steel case is in very good condition over all, with beautiful brushed finish intact on mid case and lugs. Some tool marks evident on the left side of the watch between the top and mid case. Dial is in excellent condition with a fine, even patina to the luminescent elements. Minute hand has been professionally color matched and chronograph second hand is a service replacement.
Includes original grey 18mm leather strap with original Universal Genève buckle, as well as one 18mm custom leather bund strap by Jean Rousseau.
Also includes period-correct Universal Genève box.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options