Split Second: Two ESSENTIAL images for Universal Geneve Collectors

Universal Geneve Tri-Compax Ref. 881101/03. Photo courtesy of Phillips

Universal Geneve Tri-Compax Ref. 881101/03. Photo courtesy of Phillips

If you are interested in vintage Universal Geneve then you need these two images

Later today I'll be publishing Part II of my Reference Guide to the Universal Geneve Tri-Compax. This time it will focus on Tri-Compax produced in the 1950s and next week I'll complete the set with Tri-Compax from the 1960s. When I first started writing this guide, I found two essential images that proved invaluable during my research that I'd like to share with you. One is a Fabrication Dates table and the other is a guide to reference numbers.

Reference Number Guide

Universal Geneve Reference Number Guide (1).png

This guide was a lifesaver for me when I was writing the Reference Guides for the Universal Geneve Tri-Compax. The information on this new guide came from Universalchrono.com which I could have sworn was now offline but is back online as of the time of writing. Be sure to head over there for a selection of cool vintage Universal Geneve catalogues and other information.

 Why is this guide so useful? Because sometimes auction houses and sellers get things wrong. Sure, a lot described as having a Caliber 281 instead of a Caliber 283 isn't the end of the world, but I'd hate to find out my 18kt Tri-Compax is actually just gilded.

It is worth noting that watches from the 1960s seem to diverge from the standard reference numbers as Universal Geneve switched to a six digit reference number system. For example, the Ref. 881101/01 has a steel case (Older watches would have had a 2 as the first digit), is a chronograph (Older watches would have had a 2 as the second digit), has the Caliber 281 (Older watches would have had a 2 or 3 as the third digit) and it has three additional numbers rather than two. If I can find enough examples of watches from the 1960s, I'll attempt to create an additional reference number guide to explain these numbers.


Fabrication Dates (1).png

Serial numbers are the best way of discerning the actual production age of the watch. A watch can sit in a jeweler's window for years before being sold so receipts or personal engravings can be misleading. This guide is a really simple way of finding out when a particular Universal Geneve was produced.

Unlike the reference number guide, this Fabrication dates is readily available on various watch forums but I wanted it available here so I gave it a design facelift. If more serial numbers after 1967 become known to me I'll add them to the image.

Make sure to come back in a few hours to see my reference guide for Tri-Compax made in the 1950s