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(Update) Arrived: One Owner Universal 24HR Aero-Compax Ref. 890101/01, Circa 1968

  1. cvalue13 Mar 12, 2020

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    Well, now two owners. Will return later with period photos and info from the original owner, but for now, pictures:

    9C1A21DF-064C-4127-B1D0-5A7811C780DF.jpeg D2504F82-D094-4290-98A8-4740C56A4463.jpeg 7462CD07-12AB-45F3-96B7-84E24B0016BA.jpeg 56B68AB3-C11E-40CD-A8F8-5B49E9B2E3EB.jpeg A6AA5A90-3A4C-4764-9C0D-A1141BC3C86D.jpeg 53334DE2-E2FD-4695-A816-6DCCA7EC18A7.jpeg 1900214A-B893-4D42-AF0E-7854CEFFBC8D.jpeg 4FF36D04-317B-496C-9924-EBBFB4563CB0.jpeg 2F8BF3FC-DDF4-43F0-B86C-2C726E4458BB.jpeg


    EDIT: Info and photos from original owner now posted below
     
    B8F6686B-C9E8-475E-AF94-9CF72C64401D.jpeg
    Edited Mar 13, 2020
  2. cristos71 Mar 12, 2020

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    Looks fantastic, you must be really pleased with it! :)
     
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  3. vujen Mar 12, 2020

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    congratulations!!
     
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  4. cvalue13 Mar 12, 2020

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    Very - purchased about 2 days before the current market rout, so will need to sustain me and the squirrel for a spell...
     
  5. cell1010 Mar 12, 2020

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    Well done. Looks great and I’d love to hear the back story.
     
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  6. Xeer Mar 12, 2020

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    Dibs. The 3rd owner will be me ::rimshot::
     
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  7. Carlton-Browne Mar 13, 2020

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    Delightful.
     
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  8. ELV web Mar 13, 2020

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    Stories watch like this one is awesome, congrats!
     
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  9. cvalue13 Mar 13, 2020

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    This has been a real treat for me. I hope others will appreciate it, too.

    Below I share some correspondence with the original owner of this '67/'68 Ref. 890101/01 Aero-Compax.

    As is polite, though, I start with a few pictures:

    Dave Aero-Compax Helicopter Photo.jpg

    Dave Aero-Compax Airplane Photo.jpg

    The photos above are of Dave (and the watch). He purchased this watch on May 3, 1968, and I was fortunate enough to receive it from him yesterday morning.

    Here's Dave's initial sharing of information about the watch (had from the intermediary seller):

    "I bought this Universal Geneve Aero Compax chronometer in Grande Prairie Alberta on the third of May 1968. It cost about three times what I expected to spend, but the watchmaker had no others, and I needed it for the job I was doing. I normally kept track of my helicopter’s fuel consumption in my head, but this job entailed very short flights and numerous periods of idling on the ground with unequal burn rates, so the stop watch and elapsed time register made the chronometer the only tool for the job.

    Flying charter, cargo and passenger airliners over several time zones later in my thirty year aviation career, the outer bezel set to local time allowed for keeping GMT on the twenty four hour face. That face was so rare it was enough of a conversation piece to somewhat offset the condescending “ big watch and sunglasses” remarks that came with oversized watches on pilots at the time.

    This one travelled all over North America on my wrist, from Alert [Canada] in the high Arctic to Miami in the south, every province and territory in Canada and almost every state in the Union. My intention was to leave it to my son, who was also a pilot, but that was not to be so it will seek other adventures elsewhere I hope.

    The craftsmen who made this fine piece of machinery expected it to be put to work and I had the privilege of breaking it in and showing it a piece of the world, but it looks like it still has a long way to go. Bon voyage, old timer.
    "

    That's a tough act to follow (and there's more from him below), but with that context in hand here's a bit more about the UF Ref. 890101/01:

    > It is a "true" 24 hour watch (the hour hand sweeps the dial once in a 24 hour period). A watch with this setup is also arguably one of the truest of "GMT" watches for the reasons alluded to in Dave's description above: GMT time may be kept on the main 24 hour dial, while "local" time is allocated at the bezel (which setup is not possible on more common 12 hour "GMT" watches). The reason pilots may want the GMT time to be indicated on the most legible portion of the dial should be obvious, but seems rarely discussed when considering the reasons for such 24 hour watches with a 24 hour bezel. But, now I'm bird-walking into the topic of what should be a different thread...

    > This watch has a serial number of 2'583'XXX, which indeed puts the watch into early 1968 production/sale. As Dave purchased in May of 1968, it must have been fairly hot off the press.

    > The chronograph's has a 15 minute register, rather than 30/+ minutes. The chronograph minute jumps forward an indicator every 30 seconds, rather than every minute as on a 30 minute register. I have seen some stories that this 15 minute register setup was marketed specifically to pilots, having something to do with pre-flight tests. In my most recent correspondence with Dave I've asked about this and hope he has some insight.

    For more about this and other late Aero-Compax UGs, I recommend this thread by @LouS (which thread helped me get my feet wet).

    Dave's info is more interesting than my info, so:

    The photos above were provided by Dave after I asked if he had any period photos of him with the watch, or just period photos at all. He wasn't at first certain he could oblige:

    "I am glad to have this opportunity to share a few details with you. Unfortunately photos from the times and places I worked were somewhat rare so many years before the digital camera and smartphone. I don't have any of the watch visible on my wrist."

    Hours later, however, I received the two photos shared above.

    I would say the two photos above knocked it fairly out of the park, but Dave wished he could have done better - I suspect because the dial of the watch was not so visible. But, in apologizing for not having better photos of the watch, he still managed to more than make up for it with additional info:

    "Here are a couple of shots I found with me wearing the watch, but on the side of my wrist. You can't take your right hand off the cyclic stick while flying a helicopter, and I am left handed anyway so wore it where I could see it."

    No problem, Dave. These photos will do just fine. :eek:

    About the bracelet (and a request for any help from the hive mind):

    Having received the photos showing a bracelet rather than leather, I asked the obvious questions.

    "To your question on the bracelet. It was great looking, stainless with large links and quite heavy but the clasp was a rube goldberg double fold up contraption that came undone far too easy.. It was nowhere near the kind of engineering that went into the watch so I replaced it with good old reliable leather..........I didn't like it so unfortunately I didn't keep it."

    For the hive mind: any assistance on confirming the bracelet (and end links) that should've come on this watch?

    I've attempted some "computer, enhance" of the best photo of the bracelet:

    Dave Aero-Compax Bracelet Detail.jpg

    The lug width is 22mm, with a 1968 production date, purchased in Canada.

    Based on this guide, the correct bracelet should be a Gay Freres 2B (Ricegrain - extension/locking clasp), with endlink code "UB."

    Regarding the enhanced photo from Dave, the "Ricegrain" descriptor seems plausible. And, the "extension/locking clasp" seems to comport with Dave's description of the "rube goldberg double fold up contraption" clasp.

    If anyone here can second this combo as accurate, I'd appreciate the emotional support. (Even better, if anyone wants to give tips on tracking down and verifying a correct set....)

    I'll end with a few exchanges between me and Dave, after receiving the watch Today:

    [This afternoon I shared with Dave the arrival photos I took of the watch]

    Cvalue13: "Dave, Wanted to let you know I received the watch today. It’s lovely. I look forward to touching base soon. You’ll think it odd, but as totally acceptable behavior in the vintage collectors’ circles I took some arrival photos today - thought I’d share with you: ..."

    Dave: "Wow! Your photos are fascinating. I like mechanical things too, and old machinery. Close up, the old ticker shows its age, but in a way I can appreciate, as you clearly do too. It always seemed just a little too big for my wrist but it looks right at home on yours. On a more personal note, during my working life what you wore on your wrist would outlast your sunglasses, wallet, keys and every other thing that shared your journey so I must admit I was more attached to it than I thought. I want you to know how glad I am that someone like you, with an interest in its history, has given it a new home. I hope you will take it for a walk every now and then, as it knows the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth from a time when Texas hospitality knocked the socks off a kid from Red Lake Ontario, sent to pick up a helicopter from the Bell plant. I am not a great communicator but please feel free to contact me any time by email, or phone on weekday mornings. Thanks again for keeping in touch, and the vintage watch collectors world does not look odd to a curious old bastard like me I can assure you. Warm regards."

    Cvalue13: "Thanks for that, David. Since you brought it up indirectly, it’s worth mentioning that I like to use things. That may be an indication that I’m unwise. But if so, I’m also too sentimental - to just let a tool sit in a safe. I wore the watch today, including to a yucca farm out east of town - not as cool as doing any rotary piloting, but the watch got sweaty. So, more than just being glad that someone appreciates its mechanics and history, hope that you’ll also be glad to know the watch will be getting “out for a walk” with some regularity. Especially for the next many weeks.

    Only problem is when my wife finally notices it..."

    That's plenty for this post:

    I intend to call Dave over the next several days. Aside from the watch-talk above, we've ventured into some of the personal as well. As my wife (and children!) are Canadian, he doesn't seem to hold it too hard against me being an American. And clearly, in another life, he could've been an outstanding member of this forum.

    Lots of questions for a gent like this, and as willing to indulge me.

    As mentioned at the top, hope sharing this is of some interest to others as well. Been a real treat for me.
     
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  10. cell1010 Mar 13, 2020

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    That’s a sensational story and you’re very much the custodian of something special. I really enjoyed reading it and IMO one of the best posts I’ve seen in quite a while.

    thanks very much!
     
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  11. loniscup Mar 13, 2020

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    Loved reading that!! Congratulations, she is a beauty!!
     
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  12. barryzelf Mar 13, 2020

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    Beautiful watch and the background story makes the watch even more appealing. Dave’s seems like a pretty cool guy btw.
     
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  13. 0uss Mar 13, 2020

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    Oh wow! Thank you for sharing this beautiful watch and its equally beautiful backstory. This stuff makes me dream. Bravo and congratulations! :):):)
     
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  14. chronoboy64 Mar 13, 2020

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    Great catch and post, huge congrats and wear in good health :thumbsup:
     
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  15. Radiozoop Mar 13, 2020

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    C,

    This is an amazing story, and I hope you cherish that piece, which I know you will. It's not often you get something that has serious sentimental value, and a good story to boot.

    Thank you for sharing this amazing post. This is exactly why I come to OF... too much bickering around here sometimes and it's refreshing to see a post like this.

    -Radiozoop
     
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  16. cvalue13 Mar 13, 2020

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    Thanks, all, for also appreciating Dave’s watch and story!
     
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  17. Burr Mar 14, 2020

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    Congrats, great spillman case too!
     
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  18. cvalue13 Mar 15, 2020

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    Ah! Hadn’t even crossed my mind :confused::thumbsup:
     
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  19. mancio Mar 15, 2020

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    WOOOOOOW!!!!
     
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  20. Burr Mar 15, 2020

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    More than happy to remind you that it’s an even rarer find ;)
     
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