Universal Genève Ellipse
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
Since ancient times, the devices that we use to keep track of the time--whether a sundial or a clock--have been round. Throughout the 20th century, watches worn on the wrist were circular. But in the early 20th century, Cartier broke the (circular) wristwatch mold with the introduction of the Tank and Santos wristwatches.
But that was by no means the first time in history that watches were any shape other than round.
Crack open Britten's Former Clock & Watchmakers and Their Work (perhaps the most inexhaustible source of information on ancient timekeepers) and you'll find page after page of unusually-shaped watches. Starting in the Renaissance, the wealthy started the fashion for portable timekeepers, and watchmakers designed watches for their patrons that were skull-shaped or book-shaped. These early watches were hung from a hook on the wall, if they were larger, or worn on a chain around the neck or the waist.
In 1810, Breguet created a watch for Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, that is generally regarded by horological historians to be the first wristwatch. Now immortalized in Breguet's current collection as the Reine de Naples, this unusual egg-shaped wristwatch was sadly ignored by Breguet's contemporaries, who regarded wristwatches as a feminine fad. But history would prove them wrong, and oval-shaped wristwatches live on, on the wrists of both sexes.
In 1968 Patek Philippe launched a line of oval-shaped watches called the Golden Ellipse. As Cartier did with square-shaped watches, the Golden Ellipse sent ripples through the horological world. Ellipse-inspired oval wristwatches emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, created by brands like Universal Genève.
Universal Genève produced some of the most interesting timepieces of the post-war Golden Age, with build quality that rivaled the better known big Swiss manufactures like Patek Philippe. From humble beginnings, Universal Genève grew in the post-war years to become a small but leading quality manufacture of chronographs and calendar complications, peaking with small runs of high-quality sporting chronographs in the 1960s and 70s. It’s these watches—most notably the Tri-Compax—for which Universal Genève has gained a reverential following in recent years.
This watch, with its oval shape and mesh bracelet, calls to mind the Ellipse. But the white dial with its long hands is all Universal Genève. Slim and understated, it slips easily under a suit cuff as a dress watch is meant to do.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Universal Genève Ellipse