Earlier this morning, had you awoken very early and jet-lagged in Tokyo, you might have joined other annoying Western tourists in going to the seafood market to watch – and likely get in the way of – the auctioning of the mighty Bluefin tunas. If actually living in this amazing city and throwing a lavish dinner party, perhaps you’d choose to buy 10 lbs of this delectable fish for your cherished guests and find yourself parting with something on the order of $3,000 – 3,500. However, had you decided to sleep in, get dressed, ensure your trusty credit card was packed in your wallet, and then go on a leisurely stroll, you might have found a far more surprising way to spend a few thousand. Yes, this morning, you could have waltzed past a well-known watch shop only to come face to face with a stunning example of a Universal Geneve Compax “Nina Rindt” – for just over $3,000. Really…
So, here’s how it went down… You’ve likely heard of @watchfred by now, either via here, Instagram, or forums. Well, if you look at his near encyclopedic collection of vintage chronographs, know that it didn’t simply arise via having funds and handing them over to sellers. No, it has taken a serious amount of diligence that borders on addiction. Those of you who suffer a similar affliction, your author included, are head nodding right now. Yes, Fred searches high and low for opportunities the world over and even does a nice job of managing to source at relatively affordable levels (today being an understatement of the first order). As an aside, as one who does this as well, albeit on a very junior level, it’s one of the reasons why I abstain from publishing a weekly “what you should buy where” article – I’m happy to lend advice, but I do believe in getting off of one’s hind quarters, researching and locating your own pieces….it’s hard, but rewarding. In any case, Fred has also set up a fantastic network of watch buddies and today, one in Japan shot him a look at a piece that a local shop was getting in for sale. It happened to be the Universal Geneve Compax “Nina Rindt” you see here today. It took him less than a second to say “yes” and to ask his buddy to inquire further.
Now, before we get to a very brief description of the buying experience and the watch itself, you’re no doubt asking yourself why the friend in Japan didn’t lock this up for himself, if for no other reason than, to make a profit? Well, it’s a lovely sign that not everyone in this watch game is opportunistic, that good karma does count for something (I’ve seen it firsthand as Fred helped me with something earlier this week), and the fact that the watch was too small for the friend in Japan. Finally, he knew the Universal Geneve Compax “Nina Rindt” would be heading to a collection for the long term.
The buy happened like this. Our mutual friend in Japan, let’s call him “the Intermediary”, after speaking with Fred, called the shop after seeing the piece online for roughly $3,000 and asked about availability. He also confirmed the pricing – it was odd as the shop is generally market correct – one must wonder what they paid for this piece. He received an affirmative and the shop assistant asked if he’d like to buy it. The Intermediary placed the watch on hold and visited the shop hours later, which was today, Japan time, in the late afternoon. Upon arrival, he saw that the watch was in fact a great example of a Universal Geneve Compax “Nina Rindt” and, amazingly, had already been reserved once before earlier in the day! Apparently, another customer had come into the shop before the Nina had been spied online by the Intermediary, reserved it, but ultimately – wait for it – turned it down.
So, needless to say, the Intermediary snapped a few shots with his phone, sent them to Fred and the deal was consummated for roughly 3,050 Euros.
What we actually have in this Universal Geneve Compax “Nina Rindt” is a later execution version with printed logo on the stunningly flawless dial, the correct fat sub register hands, and the blackened main hands. In fact, it’s of the same timeframe as the “Evil Nina” we reviewed last year.
Outside, there’s a sharp case and a near-perfect, correct “Dot Over Ninety” bezel.
The only minor issues are what look to be an unsigned crown, an incorrect pusher, and a polished case back (the serial number is there lightly – not atypical). Inside, as noted by the non-equidistant pusher spacing, is the Valjoux 72. So, this was one hell of a good deal for a watch that now regularly brings over $20,000 and to Fred, we say congrats. For the Intermediary, we say thanks for keeping our faith alive in good people in and around this hobby.
Finally, as much as I do feel that the vintage watch market is becoming one where good deals are harder and harder to find, this story of the Universal Geneve Compax “Nina Rindt” in Japan does show that opportunities still exist. There was no monkey business involved, the seller isn’t fly-by-night, didn’t transact under duress, and the watch was listed publicly. No, it just seemed that the local market didn’t see this watch the way the great market currently does. Today, Fred and the Intermediary had good fortune and as they say, it’s good to be good, but better to be lucky. Cheers!
A huge thanks to the Intermediary for the photos…once the watch is photographed in natural light and/or is received by Fred, we will publish a follow up on this great find!