Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

COOL FINDS: 3 vintage chronographs from Airain, Longines and Universal Genève

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |

Searching for vintage watches is both an exciting odyssey and a dangerous, risky path. We are pretty sure you’ve been in that situation, when the enthusiasm of finding the right timepiece is facing the question of authenticity and trust of sellers. As we love all watches here at Monochrome, we wanted to share with you our interest for iconic, historical, important timepieces, sometimes far from what you are used to see in famous auctions. Today, let’s start with 3 vintage chronographs: a underrated aviator Type 20, a 1940s classical watch with a magnificent in-house caliber and a very rare 1970s Daytona’s competitor.

Airain Type 20

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The Type 20 is not specific to Bréguet. As we explained in extensive oversight of Type 20 chronograph, those watches were made after a special request of the French Air-Force and ‘Type 20 / 21’ refers to the specifications, not the model itself. Several brands were selected to build those chronographs: Bréguet (definitely the most known and collectible), Dodane and Auricoste – those who survived. BUT 3 other brands used to manufacture the Type 20: Vixa (a German manufacture forced to work for France after WWII), Mathey Tissot and Airain. Here’s an example of the latter, mainly because it allows to access the myth of Type 20 for a fraction of the price of a Bréguet. You will have to collect around € 15.000-Eur for a Bréguet Type 20 in original and certified condition. An Airain (same goes for an Auricoste or a Dodane) will cost you around € 2.000-3.000-Eur.

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Airain type 20 -3

What you will get is the exact same watch, as it complies with the same specifications: 38mm case in stainless steel, rotating bezel engraved with 12 indexes, black dial with big white arabic numbers (because of the vintage patina, the tritium of the digits will be yellow/brown now) and a column-wheel flyback chronograph movement, usually a Valjoux 222. If the name of Bréguet is not printed on the dial, the atmosphere is exactly the same and the magic works perfectly.

The present model shows a pretty amazing condition, a nice vintage patina with a very good shape of the case, dial and hands. We do believe that those military watches deserve some age and signs of use, just to remind you the first and unique goal of these interments: the rough life on the battlefield. It is for sale in Italy at USD3.450 here, on Ebay.

Longines Chronograph 30ch

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What could be the difference between a vintage watch and a highly collectible vintage watch? An historical background, its scarcity, a unique feature. When most of the brands used to have a Venus or a Valjoux movement in their chronographs during the 1940s and 1950s, a few manufactures developed their own calibres. A very good example is Minerva with its movement 13-20, that Montblanc or Panerai are still using.

In 1947, Longines came with a brand new, in-house movement, the 30ch. We do believe that it deserves its title of ‘one of the most beautiful chronograph movement ever’. The movement is 13 lignes (just under 30mm diameter), 6.2mm thick, features 18 jewels and runs at 18.000vph. The main point of attraction here is its very interesting architecture, beautiful layout and amazing finish. Jewels comes in gold chatons, levers and bridges are angled and screws are polished. Finally, all the levers and gears of the chronograph functions are exposed, giving a deep and technical look to the movement.

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The present model is a very classical execution of 1950s chronographs: white dial, gold hands and applied indexes, bi-compax layout and tachymeter ring around the dial. It comes in a dressed 35mm case in yellow gold. The extra mile of this specific model: a flyback complication. It is for sale on Chrono24 by an italian ‘trusted seller’ here at a price of € 5.300-Eur. If you are really interested in vintage chronographs, the Longines 30ch is definitely a movement that you MUST consider. And as it comes in multiple cases and designs, it could be a subject of collection itself.

Universal Genève Compax 1970s

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When you think about iconic sports chronographs, you might name two models first: the Rolex Daytona and the Omega Speedmaster. Another one might tickle your interest: the Universal Genève Compax. The most famous version is certainly the ‘Nina Rindt‘, wife of Jochen Rindt (Formula One pilot during the 1960s). This elegant lady used to wear one of UG chronographs, a ‘Panda dial’ version to be precise (white dial with black counters).

The UG Compax can be seen as the main competitor of the vintage Rolex Daytona, as it comes with lots of similarities: 3 registers layout, external contrasting bezel with tachymeter scale, 37mm stainless steel case and a Valjoux 72. When a vintage Daytona will require not less than € 20.000-Eur, a UG Compax will be priced at 4K/5K-Eur.

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It usually comes with a white or black dial. The present version is one of the few ‘exotic’ dial that we’ve ever seen, as it comes with a silver brushed dial, with blue sub-counters and bezel. It also features its original bracelet and box. The Universal Genève Compax represents a very interesting alternative to the Daytona and this special ‘exotic’ one, in such condition, is a pure eye-catcher. It is for sale here (price on request) in Romain Rea’s boutique in Paris.

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