Christie’s, New York, December 16 2015
Sold for: $47,500
We’ve all heard about the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman and the Heuer Monaco Steve McQueen, but only those most committed to the study of watches associated with motor racing are likely to have heard of the Universal Geneve Nina Rindt Compax.
Universal, of course, is the fabulous (and absurdly undervalued) dial name that began life in 1894 as Descombes & Perret before becoming Perret & Berthoud and, following a few financial setbacks, Manufacture des Montres Universal Perret & Berthoud S.A. Geneve in 1934. And it was during the 1930s that Universal’s first dual push-piece chronographs and celebrated Compax models were launched, watches which paved the way for modern chronograph design.
This particular Compax was made in 1966 and is known as the Nina Rindt by collectors because it was the model regularly seen on the delicate wrist of the wife of the late Formula One star Jochen Rindt, who died at the too young age of 28 after crashing his Lotus at Monza during practice for the 1970 Italian GP.
Nina Rindt wore her Universal on an of-the-era cuff, but the watch offered by Christie’s appeared to be on its original strap having apparently spent most of its life in its original box. Indeed, everything about it was original, right down to the signed crystal and six unique-for-the-era lume-filled hands.
In summary: Examples of Universal chronographs which are so original and in such good condition are relatively rare – but the brand remains good value, although growing interest may change that in the near future.