Finds Vintage

A Spectacular 881101/03 Exotic Tri-Compax Universal Genève


The further one delves into Universal Genève, the more infatuated they become—almost without exception. This has certainly been my experience; no brand outside of the big five comes close in depth or breadth. Among their most iconic models, one has to list the Eric Clapton Tri-Compax, the 881101/1 panda dial. This is not that. This /03 was released in 1968 after the /01 & /02 and has become known as the exotic, along with the /04. Slate /03s are not common watches, particularly fresh-to-market examples. This recent new offering is a well-preserved rare bird worth highlighting. The reverse-panda subdials, unguarded crown flanked by round pushers, and bright red chronograph hand lend an aesthetic like nothing else before or since.


Very little in the vintage market can immediately denote its wearer as someone with extreme knowledge and old-world class, yet the 881101 series manages to perform this feat effortlessly. The 881101 houses UG’s cal 281 which features a triple calendar, chronograph, and moonphase. The ‘Tri’ in Tri-Compax denotes the triple complication list. If you’re wondering what a Compax is, have a browse here. The calendar and moonphase are set through small recessed buttons on the blank side of the case. The watch would stand firmly on its own merits, but it has also enjoyed a series of celebrity owners over the years to sing its praises. Most notably, Eric Clapton himself.


Nothing I can observe here is out of place. The dial and handset and original at only gently patinated. The dial’s slate tones are unfaded, the same can be said of its red day/month wheels. The bezel has light surface wear, which can also be said of its case. The watch was serviced in 2018. The case has seen light polish but lug shape remains, strong. It comes on an aftermarket bracelet as a naked watch from a private seller.

Find this 881101 here on Chrono24 for 26200 USD.

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