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Universal Genève's chronographs have gained a reputation in the current vintage market for their superior craftsmanship. But the brand's three-hand, time-only timepieces have remained relatively unexplored, leaving many models incredibly undervalued and still approachable to many enthusiasts. These elegant watches--with their oftentimes textured or guilloché dials and well-crafted movements--typify the excellence of mid-century horology internally and externally alike.
Universal Genève is unique among its contemporaries in that the brand developed many of its own calibers entirely in-house. The factory in Pont-de-Martel, built in 1941, allowed the brand to expand its production to include all ranges of movements, from automatic bumper-wind movements to micro-rotor drivetrains. While the Polerouter, with its storied connection to trans-continental aviation, is perhaps the most notable of these, Universal Genève did not stop there.
The watch that we offer here, the Monodate, is driven by the Caliber 138C bumper-wind automatic movement which Universal Geneve first developed in 1948. Like the bumper-wind calibers found in many Omegas, the Caliber 138C limits the rotation of the oscillator with a spring on either side of the weight. However, unlike its Omega counterparts which restricted the rotation of the oscillating weight to 160°--rather than the standard 360° as in most other automatic calibers--the design of the Caliber 138C was able to accommodate an increased revolution of the oscillating weight to 315°.
In addition to being unique to this in-house calibre, the design stands as a sort of benchmark of Universal Genève's technical development; the Caliber 138C allowed for more efficient winding of the mainspring, offering the wearer greater timekeeping and reliability. Still, as Universal Genève continued to grow, advances were made in their automatic technology and they ultimately discontinued production of the Caliber 138C after only one year, replacing it with the Caliber 215 micro-rotor - the movement that would go on to power the famous Polerouter.
And like most offerings from Universal Genève, the outside of this watch was designed with as much care and intention as the inside. At first glance, the eye is drawn to the gentle curvature of the lugs that cradle the stunning guilloché dial. The result, complimented by the applied gold even-hour Arabic numerals and odd-hour coffin markers, is a sophisticated feel reminiscent of the days of Breguet. And, at just shy of 35mm, the Monodate is perfectly appointed for modern dress or semi-dress wear.
Whatever the use, this one is sure to keep you checking the time, if only so you can glimpse the bygone design of an all-but-extinct manufacture.
Stainless steel case is approximately 35mm (excluding crown). Universal Genève Caliber 138C Bumper Wind Automatic Movement. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with factory brush finishing and only moderate signs of use consistent with handling, particularly on the lugs. Guilloché dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and a fine even patina. Unsigned crown; case-back is in very good condition with brush finishing and only moderate signs of use and wear and clear factory markings.
Includes one 18mm embossed dark brown leather strap.