August 13, 2009
by Ariel Adams
Last year at Baselworld Universal Geneve presented its Cabriolet watch with the new UG 101 movement. Important to the movement was its use of a micro rotor used to automatically wind the movement (Universal Geneve calls it the “Microtor”). Micro rotors are nothing new, but have traditionally stayed far away from “reasonably priced” watches. I am not saying the Microtor watch is going to be Seiko prices, but it certainly will be within the range of “I could save up for that.” While last year’s Cabriolet was more of a unique watch with a square flip around case, this year’s Microtor is a lot more sober of a looker.
Micro rotors are meant to do one thing only really. Provide the convenience of an automatic winding movement without blocking the view of the movement too much. Traditional rotors cover about half of the movement’s surface. So if you have a exhibition caseback, you can’t see the entire, decorated image that the watch maker wants you to see if you have a standard automatic watch. With a micro rotor, you can shrink the size of the oscillating weight, place it off-center, and reveal a lot more of the decorated movement. It is really the best of both worlds. An engineering complexity with micro rotors has always been weight. You need to make them heavy enough to spin around sufficiently to keep the watch wound. For this reason watch makers have typically employed denser metals for the rotor. You can see in the images that Universal Geneve chose gold (heavier than steel) for this purpose (which is common). The heavy metal platinum is also often used for these purposes, and is sometimes combined with the use of gold. The rotor is also very thick, and set deep into the movement. Again, this is to ensure the maximum possible weight for the rotor so that it oscillates frequently and with ease.
The efforts in the Microtor watch succeed in giving it a 42 hour power reserve which is on par with normally sized automatic movement rotors. The watch itself is an acceptable 41mm wide in steel, with sapphire front and rear crystals. The dials are beautifully done in either white or black enamel. Fancy! You can also get the watches on a leather strap if the metal bracelet is too sporty for you given the formal look of the dial. Which is really the appeal of this watch. Nothing to crazy for Universal Geneve. Just a really handsome looking, classic look, with an important piece of movement tech to keep the owner gleeful each time they show off the watch. Water resistance is 50 meters.
You don’t see Universal Geneve watches in the US to often, but they are pretty common in Europe. I was surprised to see a number of them being sold when I was in Germany. So if you don’t see them for sale in the US, you merely need to take a trip online. Wait, you are already there. These Microtor watches by Universal Geneve are going to be officially launched at Baselworld 2010 in April, so wait until then if you can’t bear to live without one.
See Universal Geneve watches on eBay here.