Finds Vintage

First Generation 890101/01 Universal Genève Aero-Compax

Universal-Genève-Aero-Compax-890101/01-First-Generation

In terms of historically significant flagships, the Aviator’s Compact Chronograph (Aero-Compax) sits right alongside the Polerouter as modern collector’s iconography. 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. The aviation theme remained, shown through a 15 minute chronograph sub-register (this is the usual checklist time for private small aviation planes). Though today appreciated mostly for its sheer beauty, this was a practical instrument design to its brief in period.

Universal-Genève-Aero-Compax-890101/01-First-Generation

The highly unique dial and bi-directional bezel design was such to allow the tracking of two 24-hour time zones. The design was surprisingly modern for the 1960s, with a visual boldness 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 yet practical tool. I love the extra nuance a 24-hour dial lends. 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. 

Universal-Genève-Aero-Compax-890101/01-First-Generation

This example presents well. There is a visible polished bevel on all lugs, indicating a likely unpolished history. The dial sports some very light ageing in the center, but only the very slightest color shift. Its original tritium plots are present and matched perfectly through the handset. No mention of service history or box/papers is made. It comes from an established retailer in Milan. 

Find this Aero-Compax here from Bernardini Milano for an undisclosed sum.