Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve
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Thread: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

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  1. #1
    Member Tomcat1960's Avatar
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    Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    after quite some abstinence from buying watches I've acquired this beautiful Universal Genève Automatic:







    Its prime mover is a cal. 138 running truly beautiful:


    Image by user '10utz' on German UhrForum

    This calibre family hit the market for the first time in 1948 and is one of the best bumper automatics I've come across so far - definitely on a par with Omega's 33x/34x/35x family and everything AS could muster. In my watch it's been running at less than + 2 s/d which I deem very good for such an old watch. And old it is - according to its serial number


    Image by user '10utz' on German UhrForum

    ... it dates back to 1951/1952.

    I already found out a reference number, 20003, which is given in this advertising for a watch with identical dial, case and crown. The only major difference I can see is concerning the hands - fountain pen-like in Claremonts's watch, elegant, thin sticks in mine. Interestingly, the hands in my watch fit exactly the minute and hour markers, meaning they end exactly short of them, whereas in the advertised watch they seem to be a tad too long. Also, I've seen the type of hands in my watch frequently in other 1950's and 1960's UGs, whereas I haven't come across another set of fountain pen hands shown in the other watch.

    So here is my question: does anyone of you recognize this UG reference? Can anyone confirm that UG used those wire-thin hands in early 1950's watches? (I know they were used frequently in the second half of the 1930s.) Is it possible that J.W.Benson, watch-and-clockmakers and gold-and-silversmiths in London, made their own hands instead of the austere set provided by UG? Or is the style of hands seen on Claremonts's watch genuine to UG and mine merely a replacement (and as such telling an entirely different story )?

    I'll be grateful for any kind of reply, in particular if someone can come up with images of period UGs, proving or disproving my case. Thank you very much in advance!

    Best regards
    Andreas
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  2. #2
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Welcome back Andreas, I was just saying the other day that I missed seeing your Colorado chronograph. I am always on the look-out to see if I can find another one.

    Lovely UG. I don't have any definitive information to add, but I must admit to having some doubts about the consistency in style between the hands and the dial markers. If I am seeing things correctly, it seems to me that the markers were meant to hold lume, and have a gold color. So I would have expected gold-colored lume-filled hands, as in the link you provided.
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  3. #3
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Another one of those Benson examples: https://www.poshtime.com/3018.010/J-...per-c.1950.php

    So far, I have only found your hands on dials with painted Roman numerals.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Little to no room for doubts here... Quite definitely replacement hands. Lume removed from the markers.

    Just a few words in case you'd want to do anything about that... It's got some charm the way it is - I mean, it wouldn't get past my slight OCD, but trying to replace them with lumed hands wouldn't necessarily work out well. The heavy aging to the hour markers would be too much of a contrast to a shiny new set of hands. Well, maybe blue steel lumed hands would do the trick, but still, you'd need someone to lume the whole thing in a way consistent with the aging to the dial.
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  6. #5
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Quote Originally Posted by mkws View Post
    ... you'd need someone to lume the whole thing in a way consistent with the aging to the dial.
    One thing in favor of doing this is that the lume would be added to both hands and dial. So a tinted batch of lume could be prepared and used simultaneously to fill the markers and the hands. This is much more likely to turn out well than trying to match existing lume on the dial with a custom tinted lume for a new set of hands; that takes a lot of skill.
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  7. #6
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    Re: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    One thing in favor of doing this is that the lume would be added to both hands and dial. So a tinted batch of lume could be prepared and used simultaneously to fill the markers and the hands. This is much more likely to turn out well than trying to match existing lume on the dial with a custom tinted lume for a new set of hands; that takes a lot of skill.
    I agree completely.

    In case Tomcat would like to get the watch sorted out: I know a guy who gets the lume tint right, and who even if refuses to work on a watch for whatever reason, will recommend someone who'll get the job done. With the lume plots simply being spaces for the lume inside the markers, there's no risk of an irreversible failure in terms of the dial.
    I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.
    Edgar Allan Poe

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    George Orwell

    (...)but that's what mankind is like: they only prize what they no longer possess.
    Erich Maria Remarque

    For any inquiries regarding vintage Doxa watches, please read the highlighted text in my vintage Doxa thread. Sorry, but I will not respond to PMs on the matter.

  8. #7
    Member Tomcat1960's Avatar
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    Re: Please help me with the identification of a Universal Geneve

    Thank you, Gentlemen!

    I think you're right when pointing out that the index markers were meant to hold lume which obviously has been removed from my watch. Still, I like my watch the way it looks - I can imagine that the black/bluish hands it is carrying now are even better suited to the aged dial (over which a gilt set of hands might be next to unreadable.) Moreover, the watchmaker who replaced the hands, did a masterful job - as I wrote in the start post, the hands are exactly the right length. (I can even imagine they were furnished by UG themselves as replacements, for whatever reason.)

    I have no answer yet from the man who sold it to me, but I think it's been wearing this set of hands for quite a while already. I can imagine it's not easy to come by a set of original hands anyway

    Best regards
    Andreas

    PS: by the way - I didn't pay even close the amount Claremonts demand for their example and I like mine even better anyway
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    After all's been said and done, there's a lot more said than done...

    Patina: little pieces of history put on old watches and forgotten there by the maker of time

    "Miracles?", he asked. "Forget about miracles. Those who walk on water just know where the stepstones are."

    "Luxury watches - you acquire the right to take care of them, but they remain the property of their manufacturers."
    (Roland Ranfft)

    Now available for your Kindle or Kindle Reader:

    Tracks in a Blizzard - A (German) Christmas Ghost Story

    Check me out on Facebook! / Visit us on Facebook! / Visit us in our living room!

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