Universal Geneve. A Stainless Steel Chronograph with Telemeter and Tachometer Scales
Case No: 601xxx
Cal. 285 gold-plated mechanical movement, 17 jewels, silvered matte dial, black baton numerals, outer railway minute divisions, blued steel hands, outer tachometer scale in blue which continues to the center with blue spiral, inner telemeter scale in red, two subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 45 minute register, circular stainless steel case, two rectangular chronograph buttons in the band, snap on case back, case, dial, and movement signed.
Universal Geneve has a long history of producing complicated wristwatches. Their first wristwatch chronograph dates to 1927, and built up a brand reputation based on the success of the chronographs that would follow. In the 1930’s, Universal Geneve produced their first two-button chronograph.
The Compur model was first registered in 1934, the same year the brand presented their first two-button chronograph at the Basel Fair. The movement was equipped with two column wheels, which allowed for progression from a single push-piece to the double push-piece chronograph so recognizable today. The second column wheel allowed the chronograph to stop and restart without resetting to zero. The present case is made of Enversteel, with the early Universal Geneve logo (“Universal Geveve” in a circle with “UW” across the center) that was used only until 1937.
The present Compur example features both tachometer and telemeter scale. A tachometer scale is used to measure the speed of a moving item (such as a car, bicycle, or horse). A telemeter scale allows the wearer to measure distance, and is based on the speed of sound. For example, to measure how far away a storm is, the wearer would count from when they saw lightning, and stop when they heard thunder. By multiplying this number by 333 meters per second, they could calculate how far away the storm was. The telemeter scale allows the wearer to determine this information without having to do the calculations.
In 1936, Universal Geneve launched the Uni-Compax model, which starting in 1940 gradually replaced the Compur model. Early Compur models, such as the present watch, are hard to come by as they were produced for such a short period of time. Usually featuring either a tachometer or telemeter scale, the rarity of the present watch is further enhanced by the presence of both scales.
Source: Universal Geneve Watch by Pietro Giuliano Sala