Universal Genéve Tri-Compax
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Universal Genéve Tri-Compax

When you wear a watch, you make a statement. What that statement is depends on what the watch is. In this Digital Age, a smartwatch suggests that you’re tuned-in; if your tastes bend more toward the mechanical, then that says you have an appreciation for old-fashioned, well-made things.

And when you wear a vintage, gold triple calendar wristwatch, that says not only “I know watches,” but also, “I have good taste.”

This is certainly what Universal Genève had in mind when it made this watch, a Tri-Compax Refernce 12253 in warm yellow gold. When Universal Genève introduced the Tri-Compax in the mid-1940s, the brand was the creme de la creme of Swiss watch companies. In the United States, the brand’s products were imported alongside Patek Philippe’s by the Henri Stern Watch Agency, who also owned Patek Philippe.

This lofty pedigree was certainly held up by the company’s products, which combined elegant exteriors with top-of-the-line mechanical movements.

While stainless steel versions of the Tri-Compax cost a pretty penny ($155 in 1940s dollars, or over $2000 in today’s money), those in gold cost even more. When one considers that the average yearly salary in 1944 was $2400, one gets a clear picture of the sort of person who would spend over six percent of his income on a watch. It might be someone like Pete Fullerton, grandson of Henry Graves, who purchased a Tri-Compax in steel in 1948.

Or President Harry S. Truman, who wore a gold Tri-Compax to the Potsdam Conference, which returned the map of Europe to its pre-war dimensions following the ravages of World War II.

In a speech following the Conference, Truman triumphantly declared: “We have conclusively proven that a free people can successfully look after the affairs of the world.”

Whether you’re given to making such world-changing statements as this one, when you wear a chronograph like this Reference 12253—with its luminous Arabic numerals and sword hands—you almost don’t need to speak.

The watch speaks for itself.

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We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.

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