Rare Universal Geneve Compur 30 circa 1940    Sold

Reference/Model: Universal Geneve Compur 30 Ref. 22422

Case: All Stainless Steel

Dimensions: 35mm without crown

Function: Chronograph

Caliber: UG Cal. 386 Manual Wind

Strap: 18mm handmade suede

In 1934, Universal Genève introduced a set of innovations, like changing their name to “Universal Watch Co Ltd. Genève”, with the goal of capturing more investors and skip through the crisis the world was living at the moment. With these innovations, they introduced a new line of watches presenting the first chronograph with two pushers (before they were only monopusher) that also had the first movement with two column wheels (Patent nº. 83340): the “Compur”.


Three years later, in 1937, they registered a new name, simplifying the name on their watches to “Universal Geneve”. Despite the huge crisis hitting the entire world at that time, the Compur and Compax chronographs had a very good impact and became one of the most sold chronographs during the 30s. A peculiar difference between the Compur and Compax chronographs is found on the dial and particularly on the right sub register; the telephone units counter. This counter was used to measure the lapse of 3-minute telephone units and was particularly useful for long-distance telephone calls. Consequently, the minutes dial features longer, baton-shaped minutes markers which are sometimes colored red to make them more visible, positioned at the third, sixth and ninth minutes. This system made it very easy to see whether or not the next unit had been started. The scale was later abandoned when various other methods for calculating call charges were developed. As the Compax chronographs can time up to 30 minutes, the Compur could do so up to 45.


The Compur model is particularly rare within UG chronos, however, there is an even rarer version: the “Compur 30”. The main difference between the Compur and Compur 30 is in the movement; the Compur chronographs used the more commonly seen UG cal. 285 or 286 but the Compur 30 came with a cal. 281 or a very unusual cal. 386.


This model we offer here has a serial number 760xxx dating it back to the year 1940. This particular Ref. “22422” is very sough-after and rare due to the black dial and gilt registers and arabic numerals as you usually see them with a white face or, if they came with a black dial, the numerals were normally in white. It was only in 1936/37 that the reference number started to appear punched on the caseback, alongside the serial number. From 1936/37 to 1940, case reference numbers were four-digit numbers assigned at random and by current standards, with no apparent logic. After approximately 1940, these reference numbers became five-digit numbers that were assigned with logic. The first number of the reference indicates the material used to make the case, in this case “2” that means it is a steel case, correct. The second number indicates the type of movement, “2” for chronograph, correct. The third number indicates the size of the base plate housing the movement in relation to the calibre used where “4” was used if the case housed a caliber 285 (31.7mm) or derivative. Calibres 385 and the rare 386 in this watch are practically identical to the 285 and derivatives of this one so again, correct. The last two numbers indicate the case design that according to photo archives of models produced from 1940 to the mid-1950s that we studied, “22” is also correct for this type of case.


Until the early 1940s, Universal Geneve used a particular stamp on the inside of the caseback which was the “Universal U.W. Geneve” logo where steel cases were also stamped “ENVERSTEEL”. Correct.


The original and untouched dial has two gilt registers (a seconds counter to the left and a correct telephone units counter to the right) and gilt Arabic numerals. The UG printing is original and in white. At 6 we find the Compur 30 printing which has faded away with time, where we can see the relief of the letters, giving us guarantee of its originality and no repainting on it and giving it so much character, details that add value talking vintage. If there is something that makes this watch even rarer is the outer original creamy tachometric scale based on 1000. If you ever had the opportunity to come across a gilt Compur 30, you would have seen it with a black scale too. It produces a beautiful contrast with the black dial. It is a configuration that we have never ever seen before. Original refined bâton hands made of burnished steel. The 35mm (not counting the original crown) all stainless steel case polish and glaze finished in three parts with lunette, rectangular pushers and curved lugs is in very good and original (unpolished) condition. The unpolished snap caseback has some normal signs of use and wear but the serial and reference numbers remain clearly visible. Inside we find a rare manually wound in-house caliber 386 that has been serviced by our qualified watchmaker and it is running good, with all chrono functions working as they should.


Indeed, this is an excellent opportunity to get an excellent all original and correct highly collectible quality watch with very rare characteristics within a brand that keeps gaining popularity amongst big collectors and, absolutely, a piece with undeniable history.