890101/01 Universal Genève Aero-Compax
A historically significant flagship, the Aviator’s Compact Chronograph (or Aero-Compax for short, Compax being UG’s parlance for complication) sits right alongside the Polerouter, Clapton, Big Eye, or Nina as core to the brand’s identity. This mid-1960s second major iteration of the famed chronograph shifted focus from timing dual events to displaying a secondary 24 hour time through its very unique bezel for use by professional pilots. The re. 890101/01 shown here wasn’t produced as widely or for as long as what came before or after.
The aviation theme remained, shown through a 15 minute chronograph sub-register (this is the usual checklist time for private small aviation planes). This was a practical instrument design to brief in period. The design details were surprisingly modern for the 1960s, with a font boldness well ahead of its time. That forward thought was mirrored in a period oversized case at 41mm with a screw back. It was oversized then, but perfect today.
The watch is powered by a Venus 178 24-hour, manually wound. The same movement also featured in the Breitling Cosmonaute 24. It’s quite the specifically designed, practical tool. This model’s slightly square off pushers and dial configuration mark it out as one of the earlier generation Aero-Compaxes, the latter rounded its pushers and reversed the hour track and minute track in the dial. There is little scholarship out there about either iteration of the 890101/01 largely due to scarcity, but the chronograph is collected just as highly as any. With that much highly legible albino dial real estate, there’s not much else out there in 60s chonographs like it.
This example is as strong as they come. Its case is very well-preserved, lugs sharp and caseback engraving fully intact. The dial shows no damage, perhaps the slightest fade to a cream tone. The tritium applications are perhaps not as cream in tone as many collectors would like, but honest and original nonetheless. It comes from a small Italian retailer on Chrono24.
Find this 890101/01 here from Luxo Time Firenze for 12100 USD.