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Film Compax: A Mystery Solved

  1. LouS

    LouS Mrs Nataf's Other Son Staff Member Jan 31, 2013

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    UG produced a number of purpose-specific chronographs. One was the super rare Film-Compax, an example of which recently sold on ebay (regrettably not to me).

    $(KGrHqZ,!r!FCTe,lJIcBQ1yWtyYUg~~60_57.JPG

    Thing is no one - not even Sala in his book - understands how it was to be used. Any pre-digital film editors out there able to help decipher the dial?
     
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  2. jbibz

    jbibz Jan 31, 2013

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    How many did they make? I can only find 2!
     
  3. LouS

    LouS Mrs Nataf's Other Son Staff Member Jan 31, 2013

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    Can't be many. UG was pretty free and easy about reference numbers, quick to assign them for relatively minor changes in case style, and Sala documents only one Film-Compax reference. In fact, he doesn't even have photographs of an actual watch and just republishes some archival photos.
     
  4. CanberraOmega

    CanberraOmega Rabbitohs and Whisky Supporter Jan 31, 2013

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    From a friend of a friend:
    my guess is probably outside dials correspond to feet/sprockets on the film reels maybe?
     
  5. MMMD

    MMMD unaffiliated curmudgeonly absurdist & polyologist Jan 31, 2013

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    I'm no film expert - just a frightfully clever bastard ;) - but I believe I've deciphered it. Outer black chronograph ring gives the number of feet of 35mm film (the "professional" standard) run through the camera, at the standard exposure rate of 24 frames/second, e.g. 45 feet at 30 seconds. Inner red ring gives the number of feet of 16mm film (the "amateur" standard), at the same frame rate, e.g. 18 feet at 30 seconds. Same math on the minute sub-dial: black ring = real motion pictures, red ring = home movies, so the watch can be used by all movie makers to calculate footage.

    You can check my work here:

    http://www.panavision.co.nz/main/kbase/reference/calcfootage.asp

    This is also interesting:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/35_mm_film

    OK, this is fun, next mystery! :D
     
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  6. ulackfocus

    ulackfocus Feb 1, 2013

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    Wow, somebody's encroaching on the InvestiGator's turf! :p

    Nice bit of sleuthing.
     
  7. cicindela

    cicindela Steve @ ΩF Staff Member Feb 1, 2013

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    Naw, Gator is more of a Columbo-WIS

    What we have here is more of a CIS-WIS :rolleyes:
     
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  8. gatorcpa

    gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator Staff Member Feb 1, 2013

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    And I have the trench coat to prove it.
    gatorcpa
     
  9. MMMD

    MMMD unaffiliated curmudgeonly absurdist & polyologist Feb 2, 2013

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    I fancy myself more of an absurdist, cranky, fatally flawed, "House MD" kind of curmudgeonly sleuth.
     
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  10. cicindela

    cicindela Steve @ ΩF Staff Member Feb 2, 2013

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    Yeah well, like I said, the Columbo spot is taken, so your stuck with CIS. So back to the lab. ::yawn::
     
  11. MMMD

    MMMD unaffiliated curmudgeonly absurdist & polyologist Feb 2, 2013

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    What?! House is nothing like Columbo! Not kindly, not soft-spoken, not even a cop! And he wears a lab coat... sometimes...
    Aw, don't make me go all House on you!
    ::blowup::

    See?!
     
  12. ulackfocus

    ulackfocus Feb 2, 2013

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    Of all the words used to describe me in my WUS posting days, that was my favorite.
     
  13. MMMD

    MMMD unaffiliated curmudgeonly absurdist & polyologist Feb 2, 2013

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    Yes, mine too, it means you stay just on the right side of troll.
     
  14. MMMD

    MMMD unaffiliated curmudgeonly absurdist & polyologist Feb 2, 2013

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    Look, all this bickering about my brand of sleuthing has gotten us away from the legendary work of investigative genius I did in unraveling the age-old Mystery of the Film-Pax. I'm willing to accept a compromise between CIS and House. Let's say Quincy, in honor of the brilliant, abrasive medical examiner played by the dearly departed Jack Klugman. I can live with that.

    Time to move on to the next UG mystery... It is rumored to have been a ladies' model with a distinctive red moon-phase dial. We have no photos, and the only person with a credible claim to having seen one can't even remember the exact name, though he believes it was something like "Time-Pax"... Get to work.
     
  15. cicindela

    cicindela Steve @ ΩF Staff Member Feb 2, 2013

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    Nope Quincy is too much of an Investigator. Look you fought for House so now you're Dr.MD. How's that for redundant.:)
     
  16. ulackfocus

    ulackfocus Feb 2, 2013

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    Dr.MMMD - resident curmudgeonly absurdist.
     
  17. woodwkr2

    woodwkr2 Feb 25, 2013

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    I figured this was appropriate for the Oscars tonight. LouS seems to have neatly laid this one out, and indeed the supposition about the scales is correct. #womw

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. MMMD

    MMMD unaffiliated curmudgeonly absurdist & polyologist Feb 25, 2013

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    Congrats! Thanks for letting us know where the subject of this thread went. It looks great. Are you a film type, or just a savvy UG collector who didn't dawdle when he saw that listing go up on eBay? ...still kicking myself a little bit for not hitting the buy-it-now button when I had the chance... maybe not as hard as some people... :rolleyes:

    This comment leads me to rethink my choice of fictional investigative role model. Clearly I am more Dr. Watson than Dr. House. Or maybe Clouseau's Cato is more like it. ;)
     
  19. woodwkr2

    woodwkr2 Feb 25, 2013

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    I'm not the movie star type. ;)
    Dawdling is not permitted when you see an example of the Film Compax in good condition come up for sale at a bargain price. When you think of grails--true collectors' grails, I mean-- you think of things like the Rolex Padellone (ref. 8171), the 46mm Universal Geneve compaxes made for artillery gunners, or perhaps the A. Cairelli Universals. In each of these instances the production was measured in 100s or 1000s at least, and best of all, they came from an era where limited production was an organic phenomenon that had to do with manufacturing ability and market demand rather than the intentionally-limited-production-to-make-my-brand-feel-more-exclusive-and-rare type thing that goes on with modern watches. With the other grails that I've listed, it may cost you a pretty penny but you can generally find one if you're willing to pay for it. I've searched extensively and to my knowledge this is one of only two examples of the Film Compax that has come up for sale since the internet has been around.

    If you want a real kick sometime, fire up Google Translate (or polish your Italian) and spend some time digging through the Italian Universal Geneve forums. More rare Universal references have ended up in Italy than anywhere else in the world, and the Italians enjoy posting pictures of examples I'd never laid eyes on until picking up Sala's book. An Italian collector has the other known example of the Film Compax, which he paid an astronomical price for, and which has a pretty beat up dial.

    The gentleman from whom I purchased my example spends a fair amount of time at local and regional estate sales as part of his business. The piece came from a single owner who lived in Pennsylvania. Upon his passing, his collection of fine watches was auctioned off, and from what I'm told contained several rare Patek pieces as well--a collector I would have liked to meet! So perhaps appropriately, the Film Compax was auctioned off alongside vintage Patek Philippes. One can just imagine a Pennsylvania businessman coming to NYC back in the 40s or 50s and heading to the Henri Stern Watch Agency to pick up his newly-arrived Patek when he came across the Film Compax in the display case. Henri Stern likely enjoyed demonstrating the chronograph and explaining the way it could be used to measure individual frames of movie film. He likely purchased it on a whim, enjoying its novelty and assured of Universal's quality by Stern himself.
     
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  20. LouS

    LouS Mrs Nataf's Other Son Staff Member Feb 25, 2013

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    ...as if I am not kicking myself hard enough already....::facepalm1::
     
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