Universal Geneve Compax ref 42417/1

Universal Geneve Compax ref 42417/1

Maker:  Universal Genève

Model: Compax

Reference: 42417/1
Year: Circa 1957
Material: Gold Plated
Dimensions: 36mm diameter; 12.5mm thickness

Crystal: Plexiglass

Caliber: Universal Genève manual wind caliber 285, currently running at +6.8 seconds/day
Bracelet/Strap: Dark Brown alligator by Jackroad
Lug Width: 18mm

Box/Papers: N/A


Universal Geneve (UG) was founded in 1894 and most famously rose to become a pioneer in the manufacturing of chronograph movements . A quick look into the history of the Manufacture’s colourful past allows us to appreciate its real pedigree. This begins, back in the day, with Universal Genève’s official retailers in New York - the Henri Stern Watch Agency. The agency off course retailed another small watch brand called Patek Philippe.


Having their own movement manufacturing facility called Martel, UG was able to provide chronograph calibers for many major Swiss houses, such as Jaeger-LeCoultreZenith and Girard-Perregaux to name a few. The brand is most recognized for its aesthetic diversity, with an incredible array of case and dial designs, which was achieved by using two base calibers: the 281 and 285. Even the great Vacheron Constantin used a Universal Genève ébauche, for a time. It was common, when using ébauches, to heavily modify and improve them, but impressively, Vacheron didn’t change anything mechanically, only improving the finishing.


One of the legacy models by Universal Genève is the Compax series. Launched in 1935, the Compax was the ultimate three-register chronograph produced by the manufacturer. Its archives show that this model came in a multitude of shapes and with a variety of features in just over 185 different Compax references. Throughout the decades, the series went through a design evolution, but it did not lose its main purpose as a reliable tool watch with keeping functionality and legibility in the forefront.


Overall, this example is in excellent vintage condition. The reference seems to have been produced around 1957 according to Pietro Sala's penultimate book - Universal Watch Geneve. The gold plated case is in great shape. Though most likely polished in the past, it retains its  beautiful original bevels,  still very much prevalent. The crown and pushers appear to be original to the watch. The dial is overall clean despite its age and has some minor blemishes and spotting throughout the dial (see macro photos for details). The handset appears to be original with attractive aging. The crystal has no scratches. The legendary caliber 285 is in outstanding condition with the UG caliber stamping on the movement very crisp. The movement went through a full overhaul by Jackroad in Tokyo in 2016 (where this piece was last purchased), and went through further oiling in October 2020. The movement is currently running at an excellent +6.8 seconds/day. The chronograph function is working flawlessly as well.


The original caseback, in excellent condition, is engraved with the reference 42417/1. The first digit refers to the case material ('4' here represents gold plated): 1 for gold 18k, 2 for steel, 3 for chrome, 4 gold plated, 5 for 14k yellow gold, 7 for 14k white gold. The second digit is the level of complication (‘2’ here represents chronograph): 0 for time only, 1 for time-only calendar, 2 for chronograph. The third digit indicates the size of the caliber (‘4’ in this case for the caliber 285): 1 stands for caliber 289 (23.30mm), 2 or 3 for caliber 281 (27.80mm) or derivative 283 (29.50mm) and 481 (31.70mm), 4 or 5 for caliber 285 (31.70mm) or derivative 287 (33.20mm) and 292 (35.20mm). The fourth and fifth digits at the end (and sometimes an additional sixth digit), ‘1’ & ‘7’ in this example, relate to the case style and design.


Ships from Japan