A month with my $7 18k gold Universal Genève A month with my $7 18k gold Universal Genève

A month with my $7 18k gold Universal Genève

Buffy Acacia

It’s been exactly a month since I found an 18k white gold Universal Genève in the bottom of an op shop’s watch box, and walked out having paid just A$6.99 for it. Of course I didn’t know it was solid gold when I bought it, but the discovery was incredible. I decided to fix it up myself for as little money as possible, ending up with a total investment of about A$77, A$50 of which was spent on an ultrasonic cleaner that I now use many days a week. So, after putting the effort in to making it wearable, what has it been like to live with? Do I have any regrets? Did I decide to keep it, or cash in the profit?

Instant hit

$7 Universal Geneve What We Wore 1

Let’s start with the first question. It’s true that on the first day of wearing it outside, I received my first-ever compliment from a stranger about my watch. With the white gold colouring she couldn’t have known it was made from a precious metal, but she could still tell that it was special. When I told her the story of how I found it, she was amazed and laughed. In fact, that whole first week with the watch was golden. I couldn’t stop myself from telling everybody I knew about my lucky find, and for the first time, I wasn’t embarrassed to do so. Watch collecting isn’t a relatable hobby for most people, and telling people you bought a new watch isn’t always going to get a positive reaction. Finding a huge bargain while op shopping? Now that’s something which people can relate to, and even dream about. It wasn’t about bragging, or fuelling my ego with their reactions as if I’d impressed them. It was the fortune of the situation which was impressive, and those kinds of stories can bring everyone a bit of joy.

Before this watch, I had a lot of reservations about white gold. I really couldn’t see the point of a precious metal that was indistinguishable from steel, and which picks up more scratches. But now, I get it. There’s something very satisfying about the weight of it on your wrist, especially when it’s a high karat, and you don’t feel immediately worried about being targeted by muggers. That point kind of cancels itself out when the watch is clearly something like a Rolex or Audemars Piguet, but for a tiny vintage Universal Genève, it was perfect. Muggers would have needed a loupe to see if it was worth stealing. I also think that white metals look better than yellow gold against my skin tone, however I am still very attached to yellow gold as an ideal. White gold definitely has some advantages, but yellow gold always feels like treasure to me.

High risk, high reward

Universal Geneve Restoration 7

On my regrets, there isn’t much I would have done differently with my DIY restoration. By far the riskiest thing I did was to clean the dial gently with water on a cotton swab, and that went perfectly well. I didn’t do the best job installing the crystal, as there’s a tiny bit of adhesive overspill which casts a shadow onto the dial, but this would be easily remedied with a bit of acetone and acrylic polish. Finding a company who had the perfect 11mm domed acrylic crystal in stock almost felt as good as finding the watch itself, and snapping it into place was so satisfying. This project also introduced me to the realm of ultrasonic cleaning, which has been a bit of a life changer for my jewellery. I perhaps wish that I’d taken some photos of it when I found it in the bottom of the op shop’s box of junk, but at least I was in the moment.

Closing thoughts

$7 Universal Geneve What We Wore 2

And now for the fate of the watch. Sadly, as soon as I found out how much it was worth in gold, I think a countdown timer had begun. The past two years have not been financially kind to many people, and I’m no exclusion. Finding this watch already felt like a blessing before I knew it was gold, purely based on brand recognition. Then, when I discovered the value, it felt like the universe was giving me a reward. It’s not often that a feeling like that comes around. Additionally, as much as I had become attached to the watch because of the story it gave me, I don’t think I ever truly fell in love with its looks. Sometimes it felt like I was just wearing a bangle, and that’s not quite my style.

White gold universal geneve

Plus, if I was to truly accept this award from the universe, selling it would be necessary. Otherwise, I’d just have been spending more money. Just today, as I write this article, the sale has been finalised and I’ve posted it to its new owner. I sold it for A$2,200, just a little bit above the gold scrap value, in the hopes that whoever was buying it wouldn’t let it get melted down. That brings my profit to exactly A$2,116.01, which will hopefully cover getting my car’s air conditioning fixed. In the Australian summer, my Subaru’s black leather interior can reach up to 65°C (149°F), and I’m tired of needing a bottle of ice water to drip on my head when I drive so I don’t get heatstroke. It’s good to know that the watch is still out there, taking its story with it. And if nothing else, I’ll be thoroughly checking every op shop’s watch sections from now on.