885103/01 ‘Evil Nina’ Universal Genève Compax
A few evenings ago, I popped round a cocktail bar I quite like here called Death&Co. It’s trendy. The sort where the bartender will give you a disapproving scowl if you order a scotch neat, as I always do, instead of the ‘Disco Kitten’ which includes chiles and a sprig of thyme, towering out of the glass as tall as patron’s egos. Despite the pretentiousness, it’s quite a nice environment to be in and whoever’s on Spotify knows what’s up. What stood out to me on this occasion, though, were the wrists. There was the obligatory modern Sub. And a ceramic Daytona. One Nautilus. And one lady who trounced the lot, only just, with a pink OP. Round those parts they don’t call it a hype watch, it’s a uniform. Don’t misunderstand me, all great watches. But a bit bereft of personality. I am in officially certified, superlative incredulity that those with means choose to be so, well, ordinarily uniform in taste. Not one of those watches let me know that they like watches. If you’re going to say something about yourself with your wrist, say that you have a little creativity, subject matter expertise, and taste. I recommend doing so with a Universal Genève.
This, because there is not one person today who wears a vintage Universal and doesn’t love watches. That time has come and past. Universal are the family German Shepard of watch lovers, always lovable, pure of soul, and surprisingly competent. At this point, I know I’m preaching to largely deaf ears. I imagine this is how that kid felt standing in front of the Tank in Tiananmen Square. Buyers of modern Rolex and Patek will continue without recognizing or so much as noticing my plea, happy to buy seven ladies’ Datejusts or wash the AD’s AMG, but I am compelled to stand nonetheless. Granted, I’m writing about watches. The relative triviality does not escape me.
What’s so great about this 885103/01? First, it’s called the ‘Evil Nina’. That’s enough in itself. The white panda dial variant was famed for both its attractive look and the fact that it was photographed looking extremely beautiful on the wrist of Nina Rindt, supermodel and widow to the late F1 Champion Jochen Rindt. This black reverse panda we call Evil Nina for short. It sports a 36.5mm lyre lugged case, tritium, and Valjoux 72. The Nina had a short run, from just 1964-1967. Those with serial numbers below 2.45m, such as this example, have what is known as the ‘early’ dial, with an applied ‘U’ at 12 rather than printing. This is sacrilege, I know, but it’s really a more modest 6263 Daytona. And it’s far, far more interesting than anything I saw in that godforsaken bar. Next time I’ll wear a Clapton. And no one will know, which I already like. But maybe that’s as it should be. At least we can be thankful that hype hasn’t taken over what we hold most dear.
This example is fantastic. I love when I’m browsing forums and Chrono and I see that the seller is out of Japan. Usually, they take extreme care of their objects. Such is the case here. It’s entirely original and unrestored. Said to be at least, but it looks it. The dial is showing no damage, light signs of age. Its handset shows original tritium with a little black around the edges, same on dial applications. The case is sharp as you like, with all engravings visible. The Valjoux 72 was serviced in 2019. This certainly appears to be a good egg. It comes from a private Japanese collector.