When it comes to Universal Geneve, one of the most admired watches by collectors is the “Colonial” Chronograph (Cal. 285). Build only for a very short period of time, these watches fascinate with their “avantgarde” case design and beautiful dials.
The picture to illustrate is from longtime OF member Laurent Noodia, who passed away much to early and had one of these watches in his incredible collection.
As the italian collector Dr.Steel, who has a mindblowing example (signed Compur) in his collection, pointed out, all known Colonial chronographs are in the range of 5XX.XXX produced around 1935.
But as we know from an original advert, “Colonial” is not the model name, but the description for the very first water and clima proofed Universal watches with special case designs.
But beside these incredible chronographs there exsist a few time only Colonials too.
I found a very early Universal Geneve “Colonial” automatic from around 1935 (Serial 591XXX between the lugs), exactley looking like the one shown in the ad above. The watch shares case with the very first Mido Multifort automatic from the same period of time, so the movement is AS 1049 too. This movement is a later derivat from the first automatic watch patent from Harwood. The non winding crown only sets time. With its bulky case, the beautiful caseback and the amazing patina of the dial and hands. So together with the very few known Universal Auto-Rem movement this might be one of the very first automatic Universal Geneve wristwatches. It was substituted (in 1948) by the UG 138 bumper movements, which were used until 1965 in the first Polerouters too.
With the help of my OF watch friend @aap (who reminded me one fs on ebay) I was able to catch another of these early Colonials. This watch is a time only, the solid stainless steel case around 31mm in diameter with original blued sword hands.
The original dial has beautiful numerals (open 9), the case design reminds a bit on the Colonial chronographs, even if there are no crown guard and no beveld edges (anymore?).
The case back is very interesting as it shares the typical tre tacche screwback we know from early Longines. The case even has a three digit number that matches the serial number in caseback.
The older UW logo / staybrite is period correct for around 1935.
So I hope you share my passion for these very early and rare Universal Geneve “Colonial” time only watches, that haven´t even been known well to a lot of long time UG collectors.