Universal Geneve Tri-Compax 881101/02 “Evil Clapton”

Alright, if you haven’t read the story behind my first Tri-Compax, do so right now before reading more (you can find that one here). All good? Perfect. So onto this Tri-Compax.

Not a week after receiving my first Tri-Compax, this one showed up for sale in a local classified ad. I had to re-read everything twice to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, and thankfully, they weren’t. I reached out to the seller (who was also named Rob) immediately and we struck up a dialogue. He is a long-time Chicago resident and one night while at the (now closed) Playboy Mansion in the Gold Coast, he saw an advertisement for Universal Geneve. Rob also happened to be into sports cars – and now collects them – but didn’t have a watch to match his hobby and was immediately drawn to the Tri-Compax. The sleek look of the case, the sporty Tachy bezel, and the well-balanced dial all called to him, and shortly after, he had his very own.

The watch was used for a couple decades, but shared the same fate that many amazing vintage watches have: drawer duty. In fact, the only reason that Rob was selling the watch was because of an impending move, which had forced him to consolidate possessions and discard the ones that weren’t needed anymore. He had even asked his son if he wanted the watch, to which his son declined! As always, it takes a confluence of lucky events to find a nice vintage watch in an unusual place, and this instance was chock full of them. We met a couple weeks later at a bank in the bustling Loop – Rob having just returned from a nice vacation in Europe and me walking over from my office with a bundle of cash tucked into my jacket – and it was great to match a face to his voice and learn a little more about his passions before strapping the watch onto my own wrist.

The Nitty Gritty

Aesthetically, this Tri-Compax is in good shape, especially compared to the typical examples that pop up for sale. The lume is fully present, though it doesn’t have the creamy hue of my other Tri-Compax. There’s also a very small discolored portion of the hour hand, which subtracts beauty points. Past those faults, however, the watch is in fantastic shape. The twisted lugs are crisply defined, the bezel nearly flawless, and the movement in clean, working order.

Due to some other additions to my collection in the year following this find, I ended up selling it to another collector in order to free up some cash and give it a home that would provide more wrist time than I had.