Vintage chronographs: mention them, and you can see lights start to twinkle in the eyes of many watch collectors. It is hard to specify what exactly gives these watches such an appeal. It might be the various subdials that show that these chronographs are indeed vintage, mechanical machines. Or perhaps it is that special feeling when you wind the watch, and then push one of the pushers to set the chronograph into motion? All vintage chronographs share this appeal, but only a few grew out to be icons of their category. One of them is the Aero-Compax by Universal Geneve.
Universal Geneve made quite a name for itself when it came to chronographs. It introduced the Aero-Compax in 1941. It is not surprising that this watch is very functional, as it was the midst of World War II when it reached the market. Many of its users were indeed using it in a professional capacity, which added to the myth, but also to the fact that this watch is now quite rare in good condition.
Another indication that this watch was made with war at mind is the sub-dial at twelve o’clock. While often mistaken as a second timezone it is, in fact, nothing of the sorts. With the crown on the left side of the case, the owner of the watch could set a set reference time. This could be a reminder of an appointment in the future but was often used to mark the starting time of a mission, as many military units required this to measure elapsed mission time. The Aero-Compax was powered by Universal Geneve Caliber 285. This manual wind chronograph caliber was introduced in this model and would remain in production for several decades, thanks to its solid design, which included a column-wheel. Today the Aero-Compax is a highly regarded vintage chronograph, searched for by collectors and connoisseurs all over the world, and rightfully so!