‘Evil Nina’ 885103/01 Universal Genève Compax

A few days ago, I was debating with a friend just what the purest expression of the Valjoux 72 was. There’s a lot play with here, he holds it’s an Oyster Paul Newman, which is hard to argue with. But the Daytona was just one of hundreds of references that the noble Valjoux 72 powered, and the Rolex name is so large that it captures none of that other legacy. This, I put it to you, is the purest Valjoux 72 chronograph: Nina. It captures the entire essence of the era, takes full advantage of the calibre’s relative thinness, and is just as well-made as the Rolex. Less produced, too. But Universal Genève might be about to change.

There is not one person today who wears a vintage Universal and doesn’t love watches. UG have always been the family German Shepard of watch lovers, always lovable, pure of soul, and surprisingly competent. In the recent brand purchase, it’s hard to say what will become of vintage UG. It is a legacy that I’d hate to see tarnished, but I remain optimistic. I don’t think we’ll see any kind of huge increase in collectability, but I do believe the upcoming models might just make many appreciate the original watches in the way I’ve been preaching about for years.

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, 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. Modest because, today, no one normal will know what you’re wearing. That might not be the case for much longer. But for all of time this will be one of the great 60s chronographs, whether more people know or not.

This example has a great case, with sharp lugs and caseback numbers still clear. The dial shows no visible damage, with darker-than-average honey tritium. The sub hands are the more desirable blocks, which are just so cool. It comes on what may or may not be a Gay Freres bracelet or at the very least beads of rice, from a well-regarded Spanish retailer.