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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Normally, I don't post about incomings until they have come in out of superstition that I am tempting the watch gods to take away that which they have granted. But this is an epochal event: I have achieved two grails in ten days, and I expect them both in my sweaty paws before the end of the week. I am bursting with anticipation, and I have dared fate with this post.

I believe my obsession with chronographs is a matter of public comment in the neighborhood, and deep embarrassment to my otherwise respectable family. Yet Grail #1 is not a chronograph. It is a Zenith, a landmark piece for the manufacture, and one so important to me that I have for the past two years kept an inviolable cash kitty for its purchase should it surface. I have passed up more than one tasty morsel to keep this pile intact. I missed one on Swiss Ebay about three months ago, as I just couldn't bring myself to pay the extortionate price. But last Friday it paid off, when a source tipped me off to a piece just about to be put on sale. A series of email exchanges later with a well-disposed seller, and the kitty was gone, shoved somehow into a wire traveling across the Atlantic ocean floor to Old Yurp. Today, the watch has been posted to me, and the excitement is hard to contain.

My second favorite manufacture is Universal Geneve. Despite the patent excellence of their offerings, they are not much discussed on fora. I have been fortunate in that a handful of collectors have schooled me about UG. Among them, one drew my attention to a very rare reference that he had once, traded away and regretted. It had an immediate and obvious appeal, and made it onto the short list instantly. Since then, I have been accumulating information, following up on clues, contacting other UG enthusiasts, visiting obscure local auction houses, all the things a WIS does on the stalk - no luck. Last week, someone on another site acquired an unusual Primero powered Movado, and wrote to me for info. That watch was interesting, attractive and almost certainly legitimate, I asked him where he got it, and he directed me to a dealer in Asia. Well, lesse here, what's in stock? BAM! The rare UG reference, just sitting there as if it was some regular old vintage watch. A short, civil exchange revealed some minor mechanical irregularity that the seller offered to put right, and the deal was done. I might have violated some of my own financial rules in doing so, but the beautiful thing about rationalizations is that they always work! Today, the watch has been posted to me from SE Asia.

I know, a hard post to take without pics. Soon, my friends, soon....
 

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You know, you've been having a darn good year too - just a little more quietly. I hope both arrive in time for you to participate in the End of Year SOTC thread coming in a few days. I can't wait to see these two. Being a Longines and Omega collector, I'm keenly interested seeing the one watch for reasons we discussed (which you should post in the Incoming! thread).

Oh, and you're now #1 on the list for members who owe pictures. :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
It has been a remarkably good fall overall is my impression, apropos of the seasonality of this hobby. A lot of nice pieces changing hands....

Don't worry about pics. When I get them, the forum will be deluged!

Status Report:

Grail #1: 'Dispatched to destination country"...waiting for USPS to pick up the tracking number

Grail #2: is now in Malaysia. Seems to be taking the scenic route. Hard to believe that it's going to make the delivery tomorrow morning on east coast USA....
 

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If you are this wound up over your incoming, I am a-tingle with anticipation Lou.
Fingers crossed and good luck mantra in high gear...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The score tonight:

Grail #1- in transatlantic limbo. Dutch Post says shipped to destination country, USPS hasn't picked it up stateside yet.

Grail #2- Arrived! What is it? A very hard to find Universal Geneve Tri-Compax reference. For those not familiar with the watch, here is a previous post: http://www.watchtalkforums.info/forums/general-discussion-forum/51579.htm
For now, an iPhone pic - full post to follow
 

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Great work Lou - it's rewarding to see all the detective work pay off when the object of the hunt lands in your hands :thumbup1:
 

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Great-looking UG, Lou! Perfect layout for a bunch of complications. Beauty, congrats!:thumbup:
 

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Congrats Lou! Beautiful UG - looking forward to the next one landing! :)
 

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Well done Lou. Your patience has certainly been rewarded with that lovely UG!! Can't wait to see some proper photographs of both this one and your new (to you) Zenith when it arrives. Wear them both in great health:thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
After a shockingly poor performance by the United States Postal service that was starting to resemble a hostage situation more than mail delivery, Grail #1 has arrived.



For those of you not versed in Zenith arcana, it is a calibre 135 Chronometer, the winningest Chronometer calibre from the manufacture with more observatory prizes than any other. Obviously, the greatest interest lies within, but here's a quick phone-shot of it on the wrist. Full post to follow with movement pics and all the bells and whistles.

A Merry Christmas to those that celebrates it, and Happy New Year to all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)


So my second grail, the Zenith calibre 135 came. I know what you’'re thinking: “Nice watch, but what'’s the big deal,” right?

Well, admittedly, you have to be a bit of a Zenith-head to dig this one, but let’'s see if I can convey a little of my enthusiasm without being tedious or embarrassing myself regarding the technical aspects (if I do, I rely on you guys to straighten me out).

The caliber 135 was conceived as Zenith'’s purpose built entry into the chronometry competitions that established bragging rights among manufactures in the 1940s and 19050s, and were powerful marketing tools in that era. The designer was a certain Ephrem Jobin, who had already designed Zenith’'s bumper automatic movement, the 133, a movement capable of chronometer performance, but not expressly built for that. Mr. Jobin, remarkably, is still alive, 102 years old this year, and in an interview on Zenith’'s website (ZENITH - Official Website), comes across as remarkably modest, down-to-earth and unassuming –- a reminder that watchmaking was once a trade like any other, and a far cry from the quasi-celebrity movement and watch designers of today.

M. Jobin in 2009, at the time of his interview (Pic from Nicola1960 on one of the italian forums)


In the 135, he was tasked with making a caliber whose main purpose was to win the chronometry competitions by being accurate, efficient and easy to regulate. The relevant features are (and this is from Manfred Rossler’'s book on Zenith, see also another great English-language write-up at http://www.ninanet.net/watches/others06/Mediums/mzenith.html):



1. Most prominently, a large (14mm) balance wheel with Breguet overcoil for accuracy and ease of regulation. To accommodate this huge balance, the minute wheel is displaced off center, a characteristic quirk of this movement. The balance wheel has very thin pivots to minimize friction losses.


2. An equally large barrel to provide more even drive across its power reserve.
3. Wheel teeth optimized to minimize friction and deliver power smoothly through the entire power train.
4. “"Lowered main wheel yields less mass in the escapement area” " (that’'s a direct quote from Rossler, and I haven’t figured out how that is relevant, so if you know, enlighten me)
5. A snail-cam regulator mechanism for fine adjustment, not unique to this movement, but unique to Zenith


The movement went into production in 1949 and dominated competition out of the box - like the Primero, Zenith got this one very, very right in the first try. It took first place at the Neuchatel competition from 1950 through 1954, and in 1954 set an absolute record for accuracy, as well as a 1st-4th place sweep. Zenith certainly crowed about it:

"5 victories in 5 years"


"For the fifth time in 5 years, Zenith scores a prodigious victory, taking the first 4 places in the wristwatch class, and obtaining the first series prize for the four best wristwatches"


The 135 was produced into 1956, for a total production of 13500. It appears in a number of steel and gold references of which this one is among the more iconic.







Today, the 135 remains on the short list of the finest handwound calibers ever made. Us Zenith guys think it is at the top of that list.

I hope you won’'t hesitate to correct any inaccuracies in this post.
 

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The Universal Geneve is a beauty...but that Zenith Cal 135 really is a Grail Piece....congratulations sir, that is truly an exceptional acquisition. :thumbup1:
 

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wow. wow. and congradulations. a merry christmas indeed.
 
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