If you were to press me to name the ultimate Universal chronograph, I would struggle but ultimately crown the 881101 ‘Eric Clapton’. However, for fun, wrist presence, and off-brand moonwatch vibes, you really can’t compete with this close second—the bizarre and beautiful Space-Compax. Origin and purpose of the Space-Compax remain foggy at best. Some guess that it was a shot at the Speedmaster and latter NASA contracts. Others claim it was intended for military aviation. Whatever the case, it is a completely unique and lovely chronograph worthy of a little further investigation.
The original Compax references were purposeful chronographs with a reference time complication. The Space-Master was also designed practically. While it is only a Valjoux 72, don’t scoff. It’s a robust and proven movement. The pushers feature a hard-wearing rubber actuating component, which were designed to allow a greater water resistance. This reverse panda and asymmetric case (reminiscent of the Polerouter Sub) reference is the most sought-after variation. Many have speculated that this may be a Genta case design, given the timelines of this watch’s release and his time with UG. The dial is highly legible with radial contrasting subdials, a very 1970s 12-indice, and vertical markers at 3 & 9.
While prices for the original Polerouter Sub and Eric Clapton Tri-Compax have skyrocketed as of late, the Space-Compax has remained temptingly steady. I think the reference is obscure to the point of being only marketed by mainstream retailers as anything above a Valjoux 72 chronograph. While awareness is growing, I believe the reference to still be a value buy.
This example falls somewhere in the upper-mid range of by majority collector standards. The case as seen some light polished, but is strong in proportion. Then the crystal, which is original. It has a few Craquelé lines, but some would prefer those to a replacement. Those are literally the only marks against it. Otherwise the dial and bezel are perfect. It comes on an original bracelet. Moreover, it has a full set, something you never see these days. It comes from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Space Compax here from Watchworks Haarlem for 16950 EUR.