There is perhaps no better reference than the 885108 to typify the depth and range that Universal Genève once achieved in their production. Generally speaking, collectors consider the Big Eye, Clapton, and Nina Rindt to be the apex of Universal Genève chronographs. But that view is a little too simplistic. There are multiple color schemes of big eye. There are black, white, turquoise, and exotic dialed Claptons. There are traditional panda-dial Ninas, reverse pandas, and, far lesser discussed, two different exotic dial variants. The 885108 is, without question, one of the rarest and most desirable UG chronographs out there.
UG’s ref. 885103/02, the traditional ‘Nina Rindt’, was famed for both its attractive panda dial and the fact that it was photographed, famously, looking extremely beautiful on the wrist of Nina Rindt, supermodel and widow to the late F1 Champion Jochen Rindt. 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 (all of us). While many dismissed the UG Compax for being too simplistic and a bit too Daytona-adjacent (as if that were a bad thing) in the last century, scholarship and a general increasing appreciation for the excellence UG achieved through their pre-quartz-crisis run has seen the Nina Rindt become a highly collected cult classic in recent years. But this is no ordinary Nina.
Most cite that fewer than twenty of these watches exist today with about a half-dozen documented, making the 885108 considerably rarer than the vast majority of Paul Newman references. That analogy is not thoughtless, the pair share a Valjoux 72, similar case proportions, similar bezels, and collectible exotic iterations. And yet, despite the obvious rarity coming from a brand whose credibility is beyond reproach, the 885108 will trade hands for fractions of a 6239. Its dial is markedly distinct from the traditional panda: a teal T section for its subdials, matched light blue bezel, dark blue outer dial sections, stark red hour accents in a white chapter ring, and bright red chronograph hand. In addition, the subdial handset is different in shape. The market doesn’t tend to present these very often, for the right collector this is an absolute dream in UG format.
This example sports a razor sharp case with so little abuse that the caseback serial still presents deeply engraved. Worth noting though, the crown does not appear to be correct. It comes on its original JB Champion bracelet but endlinks are unsigned. However, perhaps most importantly, that dial is simply exquisite. No damage, 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.
Find this Exotic Nina Compax here from Oliver & Clarke for 26500 USD.