Universal Genève Ellipse
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Universal Genève Ellipse

Since ancient times, the devices that we use to keep track of the time--whether a sundial or a clock--have been round. Throughout the 20th century, watches worn on the wrist were circular. But in the early 20th century, Cartier broke the (circular) wristwatch mold with the introduction of the Tank and Santos wristwatches.

But that was by no means the first time in history that watches were any shape other than round.

Crack open Britten's Former Clock & Watchmakers and Their Work (perhaps the most inexhaustible source of information on ancient timekeepers) and you'll find page after page of unusually-shaped watches. Starting in the Renaissance, the wealthy started the fashion for portable timekeepers, and watchmakers designed watches for their patrons that were skull-shaped or book-shaped. These early watches were hung from a hook on the wall, if they were larger, or worn on a chain around the neck or the waist. 

In 1810, Breguet created a watch for Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, that is generally regarded by horological historians to be the first wristwatch. Now immortalized in Breguet's current collection as the Reine de Naples, this unusual egg-shaped wristwatch was sadly ignored by Breguet's contemporaries, who regarded wristwatches as a feminine fad. But history would prove them wrong, and oval-shaped wristwatches live on, on the wrists of both sexes.

In 1968 Patek Philippe launched a line of oval-shaped watches called the Golden Ellipse. As Cartier did with square-shaped watches, the Golden Ellipse sent ripples through the horological world. Ellipse-inspired oval wristwatches emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, created by brands like Universal Genève.

Universal Genève produced some of the most interesting timepieces of the post-war Golden Age, with build quality that rivaled the better known big Swiss manufactures like Patek Philippe. From humble beginnings, Universal Genève grew in the post-war years to become a small but leading quality manufacture of chronographs and calendar complications, peaking with small runs of high-quality sporting chronographs in the 1960s and 70s. It’s these watches—most notably the Tri-Compax—for which Universal Genève has gained a reverential following in recent years.

This watch, with its oval shape and mesh bracelet, calls to mind the Ellipse. But the white dial with its long hands is all Universal Genève. Slim and understated, it slips easily under a suit cuff as a dress watch is meant to do. 

Details

SKU: AS02000

Stainless steel case is approximately 31mm. Universal Genève manually-wound movement. Circa 1960s.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition overall with some faint signs of wear on the sides of the case. Dial is in very good condition with faint discoloration along the very outer edge. Universal Genève crown. Case back has some slight scuffs but is in otherwise very good condition.

Comes on integrated 20mm steel mesh bracelet with Universal Genève clasp.

Also includes box and original guarantee papers from Japan.

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