At the end of last year, Breitling announced that it had acquired Universal Genève. That move caused excitement within the watch community, mainly because UG’s vintage watches are highly esteemed. The fact that a respected brand like Breitling is now involved in resurrecting UG seems promising. But we’ll probably have to wait a few more years before seeing what Georges Kern and his team are cooking for us. In the meantime, let’s explore a few vintage options you can already get today.

When the news about the acquisition broke, Thomas wrote an article on the Universal Genève watches he would like to see relaunched. In it, he went over names like the Compur, Compax, and, of course, the Polerouter. I have certainly found a few nice examples of those. But I also didn’t want to leave out Henry’s favorite, the Ferrovie dello Stato, or “FS,” made for the Italian State Railway.

Universal Genève Ferrovie dello Stato

Universal Genève Ferrovie dello Stato

Let me start with that last one as I feel this is a real hidden gem. In the ’60s and ’70s, Universal Genève provided the Italian rail workers with about 80,000 watches. They were straightforward timepieces with a hand-wound movement, a 34mm or 36mm case, and a white enamel or silver dial with raised Arabic numerals. These hour markers are lovely and make the watches stand out in the crowd, just like the ergonomically shaped and robust cushion case. The best part, though, might be the prices for these watches on the pre-owned market.

Vintage Universal Genève Ferrovie Dello Stato "FS"

Of course, some try to sell them for crazy amounts, like this one. But from what I have seen on forums and even Chrono24, they usually sell for €500–600. That’s such a steal for a fun watch made by one of the best-known brands among watch enthusiasts. Sure, you might have to get the movement checked out, and the crystal will probably need a little polishing. But that still means you can have a perfectly capable vintage watch for less than €1,000.

Image: Watches83

Universal Genève Polerouter

Next up is the Polerouter, which is probably the most famous Universal Genève watch ever. Designed by Gerald Genta in the ’50s, the Polerouter was available in a multitude of different versions. It was originally produced for Scandinavian Airlines pilots flying over the Arctic. Therefore, it was made to handle increased magnetism, extreme temperatures, and changes in altitude. The first Polerouters featured a bumper movement. Later on, these made way for Universal Genève’s first micro-rotor calibers. If you’d like to know more, make sure to read Thomas’s “Bring Back The Polerouter” article.

Universal Genève Polerouter

Image: Timeless Watches BDPST

For now, I’ll share some of the Polerouters that caught my eye. As there’s quite a variety, prices also differ quite a lot. But you should be able to find a nice one somewhere between €1,000 and €3,000. As you can see in the first image, you can sometimes find ones in stainless steel with beautiful patina on their black dials and hands. I also think this 18K gold example from the ’60s is neat. It doesn’t have twisted lugs, but I like the “quadrant” dial.

Image: Dutch Dials

Then, if you’d like to step up your game, you can try to find a Polerouter on its original bracelet. This means you’ll have to reach a little deeper inside your pockets. However, judging from the pictures of these examples, it might be worth it. You can go for either a stainless steel version or a gold-plated one. In either case, it’ll look stunning on its original bracelet.

Universal Genève Compur Chronograph

But Universal Genève is also famous for its chronographs. The most popular ones are the Compur and the Compax. This time, I’ve found two Compurs from the 1940s. Again, I’ll let you decide between stainless steel and yellow gold. In terms of price, it doesn’t even make a big difference. The cases for both these watches were made by the famous case maker Spillman. At 38mm wide, they were quite large for their time, but they might be perfectly sized by today’s standards. The angular lugs look sturdy, and the case doesn’t take any attention away from that beautiful two-register chronograph dial.

Universal Genève Compur Chronograph

Image: Shuck the Oyster

The hand-wound column-wheel chronograph movement inside features 17 jewels and holds a power reserve of 36 hours. The yellow gold example also comes with the original case-back-opening tool. In this case, though, I prefer the stainless steel version as it looks more like a proper tool watch. Whichever you choose, these watches will set you back well over €7,000. However, that is still a reasonable sum for a classic chronograph from such an iconic brand.

We’ll see what Georges Kern and the newly founded UG team come up with within a few years. But until then, which pre-owned Universal Genève watch would you like to pick up? Let me know in the comments below.