Repair and service: Universal Geneve Tri Compax calibre 481

Calibre 481Anders has sent in this beast of chronographs. Minute recorder, hour recorder, day, date, month and moon face all packed into a 34.5mm 18K case. Seven hands in total or in this case 6 and a half. Plenty of warning signs as the date and month disks are seized and the reset pusher does not move.


IMG_3346First impression of the movement is positive, but it’s the dial side I’m worried about.IMG_3348Here is a close up of the central chronograph second hand.IMG_3349The long second hand tube is already a challenge, as they are next to impossible to get a hold of.IMG_3350I like the UG logo in the case back.IMG_3351I hold my breath removing the hands, as I don’t want to damaged the dial.IMG_3353Ouch! No wonder the reset lever does not move.IMG_3352A little close up of the rust damage.IMG_3360I start dismantling the movement.IMG_3370The rust is very local and everything else is looking very good.IMG_3371The triple date plate removed revealing the setting mechanism.IMG_3373I turn the movement around and start taking the chronograph apart.IMG_3376There is plenty of dirt all over the place.IMG_3377I take apart the non-shock protected balance cock.IMG_3386Almost down to the base movement.IMG_3390I turn the movement around again and remove the intermediate hour recorder wheel. This is important before taking the train bridge off as it is screwed into the train bridge. IMG_3395I’m now able to separate the base movement.IMG_3396The quick set pushers for date, moon-face and month.IMG_3397I get a pleasant surprise when the hour reset lever screw unscrews without a fight.IMG_3400The movement is so dirty that the gear train is glued into the jewels.IMG_3401Old mainspring.IMG_3403All the parts cleaned and I use several boxes to have any chance of getting the parts back in the correct order.IMG_3639No way we can use the old hour recorder or the plate for the triple date mechanism.IMG_4164Anders does not shy away from a challenge and after a lot of effort is able to source the correct parts and I build up my confidence to start putting this beast back together.IMG_4165I start by putting together the balance and seeing that it moves freely.IMG_4166I replace the old mainspring with a new one.IMG_4167I put the crown wheel back in place on the underside of the train bridge.IMG_4307Here the gear train is ready for the train bridge.IMG_4309Gear train back in place and moving freely as it should.IMG_4310I now put the setting mechanism back in place.IMG_4312I wind the movement fully and as soon as the balance goes back into place it springs to life.IMG_4311So far I’m happy with the performance.IMG_4314Some of the new parts are from the newer calibre 481 and this setting lever spring needs a pin removed so that the date mechanism plate can fit.IMG_4315I can now proceed putting the watch together.IMG_4316I start by putting the hour recorder together.IMG_4317The new reset lever for the hour recorder moves freely.IMG_4320The movement is being put together one spring at a time.IMG_4323The hour recorder wheel is held down with a funky spring.IMG_4325The case has two slots so that the dial screws can be accessed while the movement is in the case. This makes it possible to test the quick set for date and moon phase and change the month.IMG_4331The dial side is put together, and everything seems to work, as it should.IMG_4332I turn the movement around and fix the case to the movement holder so I can start putting the chronograph back together.IMG_4334The parts are coming together one after another.IMG_4335Finely I have a working chronograph.IMG_4336Amazing how many parts one can fit in to a 34.5mm case.IMG_4338Dial back in place.IMG_4404For the central chronograph second hand I remove the tube from the rusted hand and solder it on to a new hand.IMG_4416All the hands are in place and resetting, as they should!IMG_4417I must say this is a beautifully constructed movement; with the exception of the setting lever spring every spring is properly machined out of steel.

22 thoughts on “Repair and service: Universal Geneve Tri Compax calibre 481

  1. Pingback: Help Please, Universal Geneve 12250 - Page 5

  2. Very interesting overview of the repair. I havea Universal Geneve Polerouter Super in need of repair. Any suggestions as to where to have work done in the US would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Hello,
    very nice work! I need help. I am searching for the winding pinion for a Universal Geneve Cal 481. Can you help me to find that part?

  4. Christian, great piece of work dismantling and repairing the cal 481… I have a Swiss Dreffa valjoux 88, triple date, moonphase chronograph, which is keeping excellent time, but the hands clash around 11 which stops the watch, would you be able to sort c/w service, noting that I would be a new customer.

    Malcolm binns

  5. really nice docu on a job well done!
    May I ask 1 question? How do you guys approach the soldering of the tube on the chronohand?
    I’m afraid I will have to attempt something similar. So if you could share info on this (type of solder, kind of soldering iron,…) that would be really great!

    • A soldering iron used for electronics (it’s a soldering station), a very very tiny amount of flux, and an even tinier amount of electronic solder. We cut the tiniest bit off with a sharp knife, and half that again, until we have a super small amount. Then heat up the hand with the solder and flux in place.

  6. I think we can safely say that Mitka has passed his apprenticeship with this piece! Great work, and a lovely watch. This one took a lot of perseverance, and Mitka didn’t let go.

  7. Thanks Mitka for a great job well executed!
    It’s been a pleasure as always to follow the progress of your work.
    I am extremely happy to see the end result.

    How the corrosion got to just the few parts influenced I guess we will never know, but I have noticed that the parts are close to the crown and pushers, so most likely a drop of something has entered.

    Can’t wait to get it on my wrist for some, very careful, wrist time!:-)

      • Hi Alex.
        These come in several flavors and prices.
        UG Tri-Compaxes in proper original condition seems to range from about GBP3-4000 and up.
        I suggest to have a look at eBay and other online market places. A good idea is to ask for advice and guidance in the Universal Geneve section of

  8. Brilliant job, as always! Any theories on the odd pattern of rust? That setting lever and second hand look like some cars I’ve seen that drive on salt treated roads in winter!


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