Steel Universal Gèneve Compur vintage wristwatch, circa 1936
An outstanding and very rare steel manually wound medical chronograph vintage wristwatch with black Pulsation dial
This extraordinary wristwatch is a remarkable survivor from the early period of wrist-chronograph production. The innovative and rare case design, with its curved, stepped lugs and articulated shoulders, demonstrates the creative and imaginative flair of case makers during this early period of wristwatch production. The outstanding black, gloss dial is specifically calibrated for medical use with the outermost scale calibrated for pulsations, enabling the quick calculation of a patient’s pulse when the chronograph is running. This scale is clearly marked ‘Gradué Pour 30 Pulsations’ and can be used to calculate a pulse/heart rate between 30 and 200 beats per minute. Pulsation scale chronographs are amongst the rarest of all vintage chronographs and the rarity of this style is enhanced further on the present watch by the black dial surface with its contrasting, silver coloured tracking and numerals which draw on the steel colour of the case. The ‘Universal Gèneve’ and ‘Compur’ signatures have become ghosted and appear faintly in raking light – the ‘Universal’ signature to the upper half of the dial and the ‘Compur’ model name to the lower half. The subsidiary dials are finely engine-turned and to the left show constant/subsidiary seconds and, to the right, a 45-minute register. The 45-minute register will count minutes whilst the chronograph is running. Interestingly the minute divisions within this counter at 3, 6 and 9 minutes are markedly longer than the other markers, these represent the charging interval periods used by early telephone exchanges, charges being made for each 3 minute duration of the call. The chronograph is activated by the upper pusher, the same pusher pressed for a second time will stop the chronograph which can then be reset by pushing the lower pusher.
Universal Gèneve are famed for their innovation in the production of early complication wristwatches and their chronograph and calendar models are highly prized by collectors. Debate still rages as to which watchmaker produced the world’s first wrist-chronograph, but it is a title that Universal, amongst others, lays claim to. In 1932, Universal were one of the first watchmakers to manufacture a two pusher chronograph and in 1934 they registered their ‘Compur’ trademark. Today Universal chronograph and calendar watches are amongst the most collectible of all vintage wristwatches.
Universal cal.281 manually wound movement, lever escapement, 17 jewels, bi-metallic compensation balance, 18,000 BPH; black gloss dial, silvered Arabic numerals and tracking, two finely engine-turned subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 45-minute register, ghosted Universal Gèneve and ‘Compur’ signatures, constant minute/chronograph seconds track, outer scale calibrated for 30 – 200 pulsations; steel case with polished chamfered bezel, articulated lugs, case sides with satin finish; case, dial and movement signed.
Diameter excluding winding crown: 30mm
Length including lugs: 41mm
Depth to centre of crystal: 11mm
Lug gauge/strap width: 17mm
All Black Bough watches have been fully serviced and overhauled and are sold with a one year guarantee, Black Bough fitted presentation box and detailed Black Bough certificate.