Universal 281

From Grail Watch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Calibre 281 is a chronograph watch movement from Universal Genève.

First produced in 1932, Calibre 281 is part of a family of important chronograph movements, including the first ever wristwatch chronograph with a calendar complication. These movements were produced with Martel and shared with Zenith. They featured Martel's variable diameter technology, which used larger plates to increase the size of the movement from 12 ligne to 13.5 (also called 14) ligne.

The family used a Breguet hairspring, had an 8-column pillar wheel, and came in compax and tri-compax variants.


There were many variants on the basic Cal. 281 movement, and production lasted more than half a century. All were 4.58 mm high but diameter varied from 12 ligne to 13.5 ligne. All beat at 18,000 A/h and ran for 36 hours. The Cal. 38x variants have a flat hairspring rather than Breguet. There were also later Cal. 48x versions.

Zenith named their versions of these calibres for their size in ligne.

  • Breguet hairspring
    • Universal Calibre 281/Zenith Calibre 122 - 12 ligne (also available in compax and tri-compax)
    • Universal Calibre 282 - 12.25 ligne
    • Universal Calibre 283/Zenith Calibre 136 - 13 ligne
    • Universal Calibre 284 - 13.5 ligne
  • Flat hairspring
    • Universal Calibre 381 - 12 ligne (also available in compax and tri-compax)
    • Universal Calibre 383 - 13 ligne
  • Later model
    • Universal Calibre 481

See also


Hand winding
Column wheel chronograph


Hours, minutes
Small seconds
60 second, 30 minute, 12 hour counters
Optional full calendar module
Day at 10:30
Date hand at 12:00 (set by pusher at 8:00)
Month at 1:30 (set by pusher at 10:15)
Moon phase at 12:00 (set by pusher at 9:45)


12-13.5 lignes
D 27-30.5 mm, H 4.58 mm
17 jewels
18,000 A/h
Power reserve 36 Hours

Production period: