The Universal Geneve 885103/02 was produced from ~1964 until 1967 (I believe…I have to caveat all my research!). Otherwise known as the “Nina Rindt”, the 885103/02 is powered by the Valjoux 72, features a white dial with black registers. Depending on date of production, there are differences in hand colors and sizes, different logos on the dial (applied or printed), and multiple different logos on the crown.
I will not be touching upon the 885103/01, which is known as the, sigh, “Evil Nina”, and features a black dial with white registers, among other differentiating features.
As an aside, I do hate watches being named after people, but as long as they are, I’m glad someone at least selected a model to name it after. To that end, let’s revisit some of the pics of Nina with her UG before kicking things off, shall we?
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Serial Number Project
Below is an aggregation all of the Universal Geneve 885103/02 (aka “Nina Rindt”) pieces I have located. If you find others, please contact me with a link and/or images and serial number if available. I am not including the “Evil Nina” (885103/01).
I have found the following Nina serial number ranges, though obviously limited in number, and many are posted online without caseback images or serial number provided (or, at times, they are polished/worn off). I have seen reference to comments that these serials were easily worn off, but just as often it appears from images that the caseback has been polished completely, or a non-original caseback is used.
Universal Geneve 885103/02 (aka “Nina Rindt”): 2354948 – 2569155 (the two two lowest serials in 2.35m are outliers, and I would like more data before having a better sense if those are legitimate)
There are a number of pieces that are 2569xxx, with the last 3 digits unknown.
I am setting aside, for the moment, comments on the range for the 855105/02 (Pulsations dial), including a sale at Phillips of a 3.7m serial.
In the table below, each row is intended to be unique, though given serial numbers are often not shown, the same watch may appear multiple times. I do my best to use visual cues to pair the same watch posted at different times and locations. When the serial number can’t be established, I give the timepiece a unique ID (based on any part that is known, plus a related date posted).
If you see any duplicates, errors, have serial numbers to include, or know of other Ninas to add, please drop me a note.
Description of pieces are generally based upon public images/video. For some detail, we do not have images and have to rely on text descriptions from the individual posting the timepiece. Some elements are often difficult to determine from pictures, including color of hands, for example if the chrono seconds hand is black or blue, and crown logo, rounded or pointed. If I have a 50-50 guess, I leave the detail as “unknown.”
Again, in this review I am focused on “Nina Rindt” (primarily 885103/02, though I will touch upon the Pulsations reference in the Bezel section), as opposed to the “Evil Nina” (885103/01, which can be identified by its black dial and white registers).
The Nina (885103/02) was manufactured with two different dials, with the most noticeable difference being the Universal Geneve logo.
Both dials are primarily white, with any print in black, including dial text (UNIVERSAL GENEVE, COMPAX, SWISS T (and 25 if applicable), and hour/minute/second and 1/5 second marks.
The registers are black with white numerals and marks. The running seconds has numerals (no marks) at 20, 40 and 60, and marks each of the other 5 second times. The 30-minute register has numerals (no marks) at 10, 20 and 30, with marks only at each remaining minute, with shorter marks for most minutes, a slightly longer mark at 5, and the longest marks at 3, 6 and 9 minutes. The 12-hour register has numerals (no marks) at 3, 6, 9 and 12, with marks on all other hours.
Both dials have the same luminous on the dial, which are at the outside end of most hour marks (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11) as a square. At 3, 6 and 9 the luminous is rectangular, replacing an hour mark. At 12 there are two square lume plots, side by side above and centered horizontally over the hour mark.
Differences in early and late dials:
Early dial: seen up to 2.4 serials
The first dial has an applied silver Universal Geneve logo. This raised reflective logo dial is known best to the community as the “Mark 1” version of the Nina. This dial pairs with specific set of main hands, detailed in the Main Hands section. These dials are marked “SWISS T” below the 6 o’clock index mark.
Later dial: seen from 2.5 serials and on
This dial, known as the “Mark 2”, has a printed black logo, with a “U” within a box. This dial pairs with a different set of main hands (see Main Hands section for details). These Mk 2 dials are marked “SWISS T 25” below the 6 o’clock index mark.
I see one of the later printed logo dials in the 2.4 range. I suppose this may have happened during the transition period, though I would be interesting in seeing more later dials with 2.4 serial numbers before saying with greater certainty.
Watches far outside of the standard range above would make me hesitate before purchasing.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Main Hands
The Nina used two sets of main hands, including hour, minute and chrono seconds, which were specific to certain Nina serial numbers and Nina dials.
Both combinations of hands have the same length for each type of hand. The hour hand extends nearly to the inside end of the hour mark, with a slight gap. The minute hand will extend all the way to between the end of the 1/5 second marks and the second/minute marks. The chronograph second hand tip extends all the way to the 1/5 second marks, the tail should not extend into the registers (hand should end at COMPAX when is at 0).
Early hands: seen up to 2.5 serials
The first set of main hands were silver, with lume, for both the hour and minute, and a blued chrono seconds hand, also with lume. These hands were used on the early Nina “Mk 1” dials.
Later hands: seen from 2.5 serials and on
Later hands were all black with lume, including hour, minute and chrono seconds. These were used exclusively on the later Nina dials.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Register Hands
There are three types of register hands used on the Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt”. All are painted white.
These hands, notably for Ninas, lack lume.
They are original to the earliest applied logo dials, with serials up to 2.41m.
These hands extend all the way to the end of the marks.
The revolution begins! Lume in the hands! The diameter of the hand around the post is wider than the remainder of the hand. Some call this “tapered”, but the width of the hand as it extends from the post is the same all the way to the tip. The lume is less than 1/3 of the length of the hand, and about 1/3 as wide, rectangular in shape. These hands extend nearly all the way to the end of the marks, though some images seem to indicate they don’t quite cover the entire mark.
We see these in serials 2.45m
Ninas, and other Universal Geneves, are often known best for this “thick” hand, where the width of the hand is the same surrounding the post all the way to the tip (so the shape is a rectangle), and has lume as well. The lume is 1/3 of the length of the hand, and about 1/3 as wide, rectangular in shape.
These hands extend nearly all the way to the end of the marks, though some images seem to indicate they don’t quite cover the entire mark.
We see the thick register hands in serials 2.5m.
These thick hands are very difficult to source. The last set seen was in 2019 on eBay, at $1,090 for all three.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Bezel
The Universal Geneve 885105/02 came with either a tachymetre and a pulsations bezel.
The tachymetre bezel is the most common, and can be found across all serial ranges. It is graduated from 60 to 500 units.
The pulsations bezel is based on a 30 pulsations scale, and appears exclusively on pieces with serials at 2.5m and later.
I have seen one example of a Nina both pulsations dial but also referenced as reference 885105/03, though I can’t read the stamping on the caseback to confirm that is the reference number. I have never seen another Nina xample using this reference number. Given this, I’m inclined to believe this reference should have been listed as 885105/02.
There is discussion online that purports when a Nina dial was fitted with the pulsations bezel in the factory, it is reference 885108. However, no image is shown in this discussion, and I have never seen an image of a Nina with pulsations bezel and this serial number.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Crown
There are two crown designs original to the Universal Geneve 885103/02 Nina.
The early version looks like a “shield”, with pointed bottom, and U within the shield. This version appears up to a 2.5m serial.
In the second design the “U” stands on its own. This version appears from 2.4m and later, and does have some crossover with the shield crown during the point of transition (2.4-2.5m). There may have been an extended period of transition to these crowns, or perhaps some of the 2.4m pieces have had their crowns replaced with this later crown design.
However, I believe this is not correct, and rather the design is a later logo (not the 1960 period shown), and is not original to Ninas. As an example, we see the U-only logo on the early Golden and White Shadows with serial numbers in the 2.6 – 2.9 serial range (examples such as 2.6 and 2.97). We then see the “fat” logo on pieces with serials in the later 3.0-3.5m serial range.
Of course, we also see replacement crowns with no logo. These are not original to the 885103/02.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Caseback
The casebacks of all Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” are flat, with stamping/engraving, which are often worn and can be difficult to read.
There are two exterior caseback designs for the UG 885103/02.
Both versions have the reference number (as 885103/02), with the serial number below, at the “base”.
These is a very wide range of stamping/etching appearance for the reference and serial number. Some I believe were likely etched later and are not original to the watch, and perhaps the same for some stamping. Some will have a mark (‘) to break up the serial number (as with 2’453’303), and some will not (2569258).
Some casebacks feature the text STAINLESS STEEL (top line) and SWISS (just below), centered at the “top” of the back of the case (in line above the reference and serial). We see pieces both with and without this text within the same range, and I haven’t been able to determine when it appears.
I have not seen a relationship between when the mark is included within the serial number, as discussed above, and when the STAINLESS STEEL SWISS text is included. Do not read into below that STAINLESS STEEL SWISS text always has serial numbers with an apostrophe, or that those with out the SSS text have serials without an apostrophe.
The inside caseback design is the same across all pieces. They are stamped with, horizontally aligned: the Universal Geneve shield logo (near the top), empty space in the center of the back, then ‘ACIER INOXYDABLE’ (small text), ‘SWISS’ (larger text), and finally the Huguenin Freres logo. The lowest serials (2.41) seem to have somewhat distinctive concentric circles within the caseback as well.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Movement
The Universal Geneve 885103/02 is powered by a standard Valjoux 72, named the Universal Geneve Calibre 85. The only differences between the Cal 85 and the Valjoux 72 are the stampings on the movement.
Within the Nina we see a few different stamping designs:
1. On the bridge, UNIVERSAL GENEVE always, with SWISS appearing just below for serials up to 2.45m. 85 is stamped below the text and screw, indicating UG Calibre 85.
2. On the train gear bridge, stamped is either
a. 17 SEVENTEEN JEWELS UNADJUSTED (top of letters is at case edge). No SWISS.
b. SEVENTEEN, and on the row below, 17 JEWELS (bottom of letters at the case edge). Then UNADJUSTED below the screw, and SWISS above the screw.
I have seen each set of stampings on both early and late serials. Unfortunately, with relatively few movement images (please fee free to share if you have some!), it is difficult to find a pattern. I’ll add more notes as I can
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Bracelet and Strap
[on the way…]
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Functions and Use
The Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” functions in the same manner as other chronographs of the period.
It is manually wound, so you’ll need to wind the crown clockwise to wind the mainspring and power the watch, until you feel resistance. As the Nina is not an automatic watch, it can be overwound, so do not continue winding once it once you feel that tension.
To set the time, pull the crown slightly away from the case, and then turn clockwise.
There are two pushers, on the same side of the case as the crown, to operate and reset the chronograph. The top button will start and stop the chronograph (you do not need to reset the chronograph if you wish to start the chronograph again), and the lower button will reset all chronograph hands to 0. When the chronograph is running, the center chronograph seconds hand will continuously move, the minute register hand as 3 o’clock will advance each minute (so the register hand will always be on one of the minute marks), and the hour register hand at 6 o’clock will continuously advance.
Universal Geneve “Nina Rindt” Box and Papers
For some that NOS Universal Geneve Nina just isn’t enough…it needs box and papers too.
It is tough for me to say which the correct pairing is, as:
– I don’t know anyone who is the original purchaser of a Nina (ok, 885103/02), and has box and papers. More often than not, collectors will reference that theirs is original. And it may be, I just haven’t been able to tell.
– It is not unusual for resellers to have used a different set of box and papers for different pieces – they did not arrive from the manufacturer as a specifically set
– Boxes/paper design over time will change
It is, however, extremely difficult for me to believe that a set would have originally been purchased with different logos (see the FAQ on the Universal Geneve Ninda Rindt crown for details on logo design over time) – for example, an applied logo dial with a fat logo box.
To date I have seen paired:
– 2.4m with applied logo, U-only tall rectangular box (red top with black bottom, white with gold and red print interior), shield logo guarantee (pink with gold print) and shield logo other paper (blue with black print)
– 2.5m with printed logo, U-only cube box (red with gold print on exterior, dark yellow with black print interior)
– applied logo, shield rectangular deep box (black with gold print on exterior, red interior with gold print), shield logo guarantee (pink with gold print)
– printed logo, U-only cube box (red with gold print on exterior, dark yellow with black print interior), fat logo guarantee (white with blue print)
– 2.5m with printed logo, fat logo flat rectangular box (dark blue with white interior and blue print), U-only logo guarantee (blue with gold print), shield logo on another paper (blue with black print)
– 2.4m with applied logo, fat logo cube box (white with white interior and blue print), and U-only logo guarantee (blue with gold print)
– applied logo, fat cube box (black with silver print on exterior, white with blue print on interior)