We’re switching things up on #VintageWatchFridays this week to bring you something completely different, a super-cool Universal Geneve Space Compax.
Don’t be surprised if you’re not familiar with the name Universal Geneve. Although a key pioneer in the mechanical watch industry, the brand all but faded into obscurity after an ill-fated decision in the 1970s to start producing watches using quartz oscillators (they were owned by Bulova at the time.)
Up until that point however it had achieved some pretty incredible things during its storied history. Founded in 1894 by two talented watchmakers and former classmates – Numa Emile Descombes and Ulysse Georges Perret – the company (at that time operating under the name Universal Watch) specialized in the manufacture and sale of cases, crowns, dials and movements.
Sadly however Descombes would pass away just three years later, leading Perret to enter into a new partnership with a man by the name of Louis Edouard Berthoud and eventually to relocate the fledgling company to Geneva, renaming it Universal Watch et Company (UWEC) Genève, Ltd.
In the ensuing years Universal Geneve would go on to produce several notable timepieces including the Polerouter designed by industry legend Gerald Genta. One of the last mechanical models they would produce however before the shift to quartz in 1975 was the Space Compax, a cool chronograph timepiece that has since become sought after by Universal Geneve collectors.
The Space Compax
There is nothing particularly notable about the Space Compax other than the fact that it is a really cool looking chronograph with a highly reputable and highly reliable Valjoux 72 movement inside. It didn’t set any records or pioneer new technologies in watchmaking however it is an excellent example of the bold style of the era.
Presented in a 36mm steel case, it is generally thought that two versions of the Space Compax were produced, commonly referred to as first and second generations. The watch we have here today is a first generation, denoted by its black dial with contrasting white sub-dials and big ‘12’. The second generation meanwhile has an all-black dial and no number painted at 12 o’clock.
The clean looking display indicates the hours, minutes and small seconds (shown on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock), as well as the elapsed time in 30 minute and 1 hour intervals up to 12 hours. Chronograph seconds are indicated via the red central seconds hand and the black bezel has been calibrated for the tachometer.
The Space Compax is in excellent condition for its age with all luminous markings remaining completely intact. It even still features the original crystal, and if you look closely you can make out the brand’s distinctive ‘U’ stamped in the middle of it.
On the reverse the screw down case back has been marked with the UG reference and case numbers: 885104/01.
Make It Yours
Presented on a non-original leather strap this Universal Geneve Space Compax is available from Christie’s now for US$7,000.
If you would like to know more about this watch please click here to send an email to Reginald Brack, Christie’s Director of Private Watch Sales and soon to be your new best friend.
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