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We don’t blame you if you weren’t familiar with UG before first seeing them on Hodinkee’s Instagram feed. One of the most unfortunate “dead brands”, UG was once one of Switzerland’s best manufactures, producing many classics, but best perhaps known for their Tri-Compax chronographs.
Feautring a full calendar plus a moonphase complication, the Tri-Compax was one of the most advanced chronograph wristwatches of the era, and certainly one of the highest quality. It’s no coincidence that the U.S. distributor for UG was the Henri Stern Watch Agency. And what was the sole other brand distributed by H.Stern? That would be Patek Philippe.
This example of the Tri-Compax is from one of the earliest generations of the watch, and features a handsome gold-plated case with a white dial, accented by Arabic numerals and dart indices. With four sub-registers and two calendar apertures, the watch sounds on paper like it would have an overly busy dial, but the beauty of the Tri-Comapx is how aesthetically pleasing and legible a watch it is. Instead of coming off as a busy mess, the Tri-Compax is a gorgeous example of mid-century watch design, and its style holds up better then most from the era.
Universal’s later Compax sport models, like the Nina Rindt (HERE) and Evil Nina (HERE), have spiked in value and received more than their fair share of attention recently, but as any vintage nerd will tell you, the Tri-Compax is UG’s true flagship model. The in-house, manually-wound chronograph movement was a great achievement for UG, especially when most of their competitors relied on outsourced movements for their watches. With few exceptions, the Tri-Compax caliber was just about as fine a chronograph as consumers could buy at the time, and that’s in no small part why they’ve become so highly collectible today.
If you’re a chronograph fan, its incumbent upon you to have a Tri-Compax in your collection. Given UG’s ascent to the upper tiers of collectability, now’s the time to grab one before prices get too out of hand.
Yellow gold case is approximately 37mm in diameter (excluding crown). Manually-wound Universal Genève Calibre 287 Chronograph Movement. Circa 1950.
Overall condition: Case is in great condition overall, showing only light signs of wear from age and use. The original dial is in very good condition and shows some aging with sharp original printing. Original hands are in excellent condition. Original case back, pushers and signed crown.
Includes lizard strap with gold-tone buckle.