I am constantly amazed at how variably different pieces may patina. A bakelite GMT from the 60s can look well and truly fucked, while simultaneously this Compax from the 40s looks under a decade young (if it weren’t for the proportion & design). That is testament to how well constructed this Universal is. The same can be said of the lasts 40s piece I featured. I have come to believe that the Swiss used to construct their watches with a humble goal of eternal permanence. This is not a watch, it is a cathedral.
Aero-Compax is a shorthand for Aviator’s Compact Chronograph. This highly legible chronograph is, technically, a flieger. Introduced in 1936, the line has long-lived and storied history. This was a watch which saw many pilots through WWII. The dial configuration hints at this with the 12 subdial. Often mistaken as a secondary timezone, it is in a reference time complication. Set with the left handed crown, you can think of it as a count-down. It could mark the start of flight, the elapsed mission time, or an exact 30-minute lunch. As unique complications go, the UG 287 movement is up there.
So is this example. 1940s Aero-Compax came with a huge range of dial and hand configurations. This is one of the more attractive. It has the much rarer blued steel hands with matched original subdial hands. The dial has a bright red tachy section, another scarce variation. Lastly, theres the light eggshell patina that the dial has taken on in its eighty years of service. It’s all lovely. This UG just has twenty years to go to mark its centennial. I have no doubt that it will reach one hundred only to carry on serving. Right around the time the Vatican crumbles, it might start losing a few seconds per day.