Universal Genève was first founded under the name Universal Watch in 1894 by watchmakers Numa-Emile Descombes, and Ulysse Georges Perret. Together, they registered the company name for the production of dials, watch movements, pocket-watch domes and cases, and watch boxes. At the same time, they also patented a 24-hour indication watch.
In 1897, co-founder Descombes died and all patents were transferred to Perret and Louis-Edouard Berthoud.
The Universal Watch brand was gaining popularity in Europe and in America. The company was rapidly expanding. They relocated their headquarters to Geneva in 1919. By 1925, Universal had designed their first self-winding watch called the “Auto Rem.” In 1933, founder Perret died. His son, Raoul, took over the company and the name was changed to Universal Watch Co. Ltd. Genève in 1934. Raoul then registered the name “Universal Genève” in 1937 and changed the brand logo. Despite the effects of the Great Depression, Universal Genève found success with two of their designs, “Compax” and “Compur.” In fact, the watch lines were so popular the factory could not keep up with the demand.
In 1954, a new chronograph was introduced, the “Polerouter” (initially named Polarouter). The watch was used by the SAS during their polar flights. The “Polerouter” was the thinnest automatic movement of its time. Developing thin, automatic movements became a standard for Universal Genève. In 1966, the company introduced the “Golden Shadow,” just 2.5mm in thickness. Universal Genève partnered with other watch companies over the years to create new and inventive products. In 1962 they worked with Movado to create an electric watch. In 1968 they worked with the American watchmaker, Bulova, to create an electronic watch with a “Tuning Unisonic” system.
Numerous watch companies found themselves in desperate times with the arrival of the Japanese quartz watch. Universal, however, was able to design the thinnest analog quartz watch movement at the time in 1975, which helped prevent their demise. Universal had numerous “recognized” clients. Artist Jean Cocteau was so impressed by their designs, he composed the dedication, “Les temps lui-meme regarde l’heure á la montre Universal,” which Universal put on the dials of the tourbillion models. Gen. Juan Peron and Harry Truman were also fans of Universal Genève. Universal Genève is currently owned by Stelux Holding Group, Hong Kong.