Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

Thread: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

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  1. #1
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    Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Hello Everyone! Brand new here and having trouble getting information about a Universal Geneve wristwatch from unknown year(engraving suggesting it was a gift and dated Feb. 1962). I have searched forum after forum, looked at Ranff's list, numerous watch books, but I cannot find any info related to this watch or movement. Silver'ish dial signed Universal Geneve, in an 18k white gold case ~33mm minus crown, rectangular lugs, case back inside hallmarked 18k and signed UNIVERSAL GENEVE, serial numbers on case back outside. SUPER THIN movement (less than 2mm) watch is almost same thickness as U.S. nickel..movement is about 9lignes / ~21mm wide(haven't measured accurately movement has not been taken out case) winding wheel labeled universal geneve, plate that regulator is on is marked HON. the movement is similar to vacheron constantin's cal. 1003 (the escapement bridge is the most noticeable difference in arrangement). It appears that Universal Geneve made/modified/built a movement to compete with the Ultra_thin market, but I cant find any info on manual wind Just a lot of info on microrotor automatic. I would appreciate any input related to the watch. Thanks!
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  2. #2
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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Its a Frederic Piguet Caliber 21, been around forever and used by many high-end brands. Slightly thicker at 1.73mm than the Vacheron Constantin 1003 at 1.64mm...although this is literally "splitting hairs"
    Last edited by Tick Talk; December 8th, 2012 at 04:55.
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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Quote Originally Posted by Tick Talk View Post
    Its a Frederic Piguet Caliber 21, been around forever and used by many high-end brands. Slightly thicker at 1.73mm than the Vacheron Constantin 1003 at 1.64mm...although this is literally "splitting hairs"
    +1 on the last bit! I'd also like to point out that, like this one, the Cal. 1003 is not original to the watch company - it is originally by LeCoultre.

    Hartmut Richter

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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Thanks for the Responses! now knowing what cal. it is, I have found more info on the movement. A few more things are still unclear: 1) Did Universal Geneve ever call this movement something else (under the Universal Geneve brand) 2) Did UG market this watch or was this an early experiment? 3) I noticed that it is missing the UG logo (on dial/crown/and inside case back where signed). Is this a pre-logo watch? (serial numbers appear on case back 50610 (0 looks as if it double stamped, kinda looks like calligraphy) second number is "9904 2" (spaced as such also) if the serial number is 50k it seems too low for UG serial number table, but if the 0 that appears double stamped is meant to be two 0's then it would be 500k number which appears to be 1930 ish. inscription on back is dated 1962 (which doesn't appear to match up with the fact that there arent any UG LOGOS (which should be there if it was new in 1962) 4) how common or rare is this watch. Seems to be running fine(but i plan on having it serviced due to not knowing the service history)

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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmut Richter View Post
    +1 on the last bit! I'd also like to point out that, like this one, the Cal. 1003 is not original to the watch company - it is originally by LeCoultre.

    Hartmut Richter
    Hello Hartmut! First, please let me express my great respect for your contributions and WISdom I simply want to say that JLC was commissioned by Audemars Piguet and Vacheron et Constantin in 1953 to design and construct the ebauche for what would become the caliber 2003/1003 ultra-thin manual movements. Although they assigned it an internal reference as "Calibre 803", JLC was never permitted to use this caliber. Both AP and V&C took those kits and finished/assembled/regulated the final movement, which were the only iterations available; never with Jaeger-LeCoultre's name on it. Events have now overtaken the past, as Vacheron Constantin constructs their current 1003/4 movements entirely in-house.

    The situation was similar with another iconic movement developed under contract by JLC with their designation "Calibre 920". At one time used by Patek Philippe (28-255) and still used by AP (2120) and VC (1120), this automatic movement has never appeared within a JLC model. Audemars Piguet has since acquired exclusive manufacturing rights and now provides an ebauche kit to Vacheron Constantin for their 1120 version.

    While it is historically important to acknowledge JLC's contribution in the design and manufacture of these ebauches, it is not legally accurate to label the completed 1003/2003 or 1120/2120 movements as "by LeCoultre". Sorry if this sounds like nit-picking, but with many enthusiasts only familiar with modern ETA-powered, brand-engineered watches, its easy to lose the wonderful nuances of the Swiss watch industry. I'm sure many have never seen or examined an ebauche kit, so here are pictures of a Victorin-Piguet kit for a minute repeater and the finished movement by Vacheron Constantin.
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    Last edited by Tick Talk; December 11th, 2012 at 16:59.
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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    The "Adjusted to 2 positions" marking was an artefact of the 1922 tarriff act (duties on a watch adjusted to 2 positions was $3.50, while 3 positions was $4.75). That act lasted until 1930, so that's probably the time frame you're looking at here.
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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Thank you for your reply. Hmmmmmm..... - I am aware that JLC never used either the Cal. 1003 or the 1120 but I would still regard these as "by LeCoultre". Technically, they represent what is called "reserved calibres" but they are not in house movements by VC, AP or PP. The same goes for the original "Golden Bridge" movement of Corum - designed by Vincent Calabrese, even though it was then made by Corum. The fact is that the original 1003 and 1120 calibres were finished by VC but not originally made by them, nor even designed by them. Even now that VC make the thing themselves, I would not call them an in house movement any more than I would call all those chinese and Hublot copies of the Valjoux 7750 anything but a (copy of a ) Valjoux movement. Maybe it's because I tend to rate the development a little higher than the manufacture.....

    I would, on the other hand, agree that the significant further development of a movement makes it at least part in house. And putting a tourbillon inside is certainly a significant development.

    Hartmut Richter

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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmut Richter View Post
    The fact is that the original 1003 and 1120 calibres were finished by VC but not originally made by them, nor even designed by them. Even now that VC make the thing themselves, I would not call them an in house movement any more than I would call all those chinese and Hublot copies of the Valjoux 7750 anything but a (copy of a ) Valjoux movement.
    Ouch...I hope you are using hyperbole. There are far too many steps and people involved to dismiss the process of taking an ebauche kit as supplied by JLC and making a finished timepiece as retailed by AP, V&C, or PP as just finishing. Surely this becomes obvious when one has seen the parts kits? JLC provided an economy of scale and consistency of production, but the work was rough and not to the high tolerances required for a finished movement. So, its not that JLC "never used" the 1003 or 1120, its that they couldn't use it...as it was only produced as an unfinished kit that required many more hours of work to even function. Even if JLC wanted to produce the finished movements (theoretically of course, as they went into this arrangement back in 1953 knowing their restrictions), they couldn't because it wasn't theirs by license and law. The Maison Suisse cannot be described in such absolutes as your reply suggests
    Last edited by Tick Talk; December 12th, 2012 at 01:35.
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    Re: Universal Geneve Ultra Thin questions...??

    I think that we will have to leave this on the (hopefully mutual) basis of agreeing to differ. As I said, I still rate the development of a movement higher than it's production.....

    Hartmut Richter

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