885108 ‘Exotic Nina’ Universal Genève Compax
There aren’t many chronographs which can be described honestly as on par with a Paul Newman. This one can be, and it’s an order of magnitude less dear as well. It’s not just that it’s a Valjoux 72, hundreds of references were powered by one. It’s a Singer-made dial. It’s exotic. It was produced in pitiful numbers. Plus the case is just 36mm with a bakelite bezel (in blue!). It has all the charm, all the rarity, and from a name arguably just as storied. The 885108 ‘Exotic Nina’ is, without question, one of the rarest and most desirable UG chronographs out there.
Most cite that fewer than twenty of these watches exist today with about a half-dozen documented, making the 885107 or 885108 (inverse blue color schemes of the same exotic configuration) considerably rarer than the vast majority of Paul Newman references. Its dial is markedly distinct from usual Singer production too: a silver T section for its subdials, radially brushed background, bright blue subdials and seconds track, plus stark red hour accents. In addition, the subdial handset is different in shape to everything except other Ninas. Perhaps the best bit, though, is that they’ll likely never come close to a PN in values, so none of the peacocking, dubious auction results, or usual hype baggage is ever likely to attach itself to the Nina. It died young, and so will be pure, beautiful, and scarce for eternity.
If you were to poll a hundred self-professed watch enthusiasts, not one of them would dislike a Nina. Of this I am confident. If you polled a hundred non-enthusiasts, not one would know who or what a Nina is. That’s a good place to hang out, appreciated ardently by a few; it means you won’t get your arm cut off in London or Paris. It also means you’re thinking for yourself. When I see a Paul Newman out in the wild, which admittedly rarely happens but has, the thought is always, ‘there’s a 50% chance they know and adore watches and 50% chance they just have money and a want to spend.’ This is 100% the former. And that’s 100% of what this finds feed aims to highlight: the unjustly overlooked, with history and competent watchmaking in equal measure.
This example sports a very strong case. Worth noting though, the crown does not appear to be correct. It comes on its original JB Champion bracelet, endlinks are unsigned. However, perhaps most importantly, that dial is strong. There’s a tiny handstrike in the 6 subidal, otherwise no degradation, zero corrosion. Its tritium applications are honey in tone and matched. The bezel is intact, however does display one hard bash around 11 that is noticeable. This is an honest watch to my eye, and one that has a perfectly matched level of patina for its age. It comes from a well-regarded retailer.