885103/02 ‘Nina Rindt’ Universal Genève Compax
Nina deserves more. This is a ref. 885103/02, better known as the Nina Rindt, and it is one of the most attractive chronograph designs there’s been. Yes, full stop. When I say more, I don’t mean value. I quite like that these are still attainable on a relative basis. I mean Nina deserves every bit the respect a 6263 Daytona garners. Values don’t make the watch, collectors do. Collectors and enthusiasts shape the image and meaning a vintage watch holds. And I have been, for many years, singing the praises of Universal broadly and Nina specifically; it’s an intersection of the golden era in F1, a fashion icon, a tragic love story, and vintage V72 chronographs. And during the time I’ve been ranting, values have, well, come down a bit. Maybe I should stop.
UG’s ref. 885103/02, the traditional ‘Nina Rindt’, was famed for both its attractive panda dial 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 (who was tragically lost after crashing while absolutely rinsing Parabolica corner at Monza for all it was worth in free practice). Its rise to fame has been a gradual one over the past two decades, mainly appreciated by watch collectors past a certain level of nerd (people who read Hairspring, perhaps used to read the other H). Scholarship has seen it approach a cult classic status. It’s 36mm, so far more subtle than anything today, with lyre lugs and a few details worth noting.
Nina came in four flavors: this, ‘Evil Nina’ with a reverse panda and red chronograph hand, the two exotic variants coined ‘Exotic Nina’ and ‘Blue Exotic Nina’ that are likewise inverse of each other. The Nina had a short run, from just 1964-1967. Those with serial numbers below 2.45m have an applied U at 12 and the second series have a printed U. But then on the latter you get these fantastic ‘block’ subdial hands rather than the more normal looking ones. And details go on, the bezel is metal with a printed metal insert, not the plastic you’d see on a Daytona bezel. Even the chrono hand is lumed because UG considered details. Best of all, this one’s subtly tropical, it really is the total package. Much like Nina herself. Why these aren’t more lauded whilst 1/4 the ask of a period Daytona I will never fully understand. But I’m glad they aren’t for now. More for us.
This example is great. The lugs are as they should be, sharp and even. It’s hard to tell if there’s a caseback serial number present in the lighting on the shots, it may be there or it may be gone. It’s very common even on great cases that in service UG would polish the back, even if not the case, and over time you lose the reference and serial numbers that were there. But the real star here is the dial, which has gone light cream with brown subdials. Not unattractive at all. It comes from a well-regarded Miami retailer.