Universal Geneve Compax for Troy Ruttman, Winner of the Indy 500
Case: stainless steel three-body, polished and brushed, screw back, two round chronograph buttons in the band, case back with engraving “Troy Ruttman 1952 500”
Dial: silvered dial with luminous Arabic numerals, luminous hands, outer tachometer scale, central chronograph hand, three subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30 minute register, and 12 hour register
Movement: Cal. 283, frosted gilt, 17jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance, self-compensating Breguet balance spring, index regulator.
Case No. 147xxxx
Diameter: 35mm thickness: 11 mm
Universal Geneve introduced their first chronograph in 1927 to great success, and went on to introduce a number of new models in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Compax model was launched in 1935 as the world’s first chronograph with an hour dial as well as minute one.
The present example is notable for both its condition, with a beautifully aged dial and case in excellent condition, and its provenance. Troy Ruttman was an American race car driver, best known for winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 when he was just 22 years and 80 days old. He remains the youngest winner of the race. In the 1950’s, the Indy 500 was part of the World Championship (now known as Formula One), and Ruttman’s participation earned him World Championship points. Even though he would go on to participate in a total of nine World Championship races, the 1952 race would be his only win. He was later inducted into the Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame in May of 1992. Troy Ruttman passed away in 1997, but his legacy as the youngest winner of the Indy 500 carries on.
Although Universal Geneve is not the brand most often associated with car racing, the company had a strong international presence, and was affiliated with a number of motor sporting events including the Mille Miglia. For the young winner of the Indy 500, this Universal Geneve Chronograph was clearly a treasured memento, as it remains in top condition.