Woman Of Substance: Five Ways In Which Nina Rindt Is The Original Watch Influencer
Although Rindt worked as a model, she is best known for her days spent trackside, timing her husband’s laps. Here's a look at five ways in which Rindt became a horological heroine.
Not many people have a watch named after them, even fewer women get the honor. Nina Rindt, the daughter of famed Finnish racing driver Curt Lincoln and the widow of the late Formula One star Jochen Rindt, had a unique style that captured the world's attention. Turns out, she also had great taste in timepieces! If Instagram existed in the 1960s, she’d have been more famous than both of those men.
Just like the watch that she is synonymous with — the Universal Genève Compax — Rindt's style is timeless. And even though she's mostly retired from the public eye after Rindt's tragic death in 1970, her unique look is unforgettable.
Here are five ways in which Rindt became a horological heroine.
Nina Rindt at the track
Although Rindt worked as a model, she is best known for her time spent trackside, timing her husband’s laps. Photographs from the time show a focused young woman with an offbeat sense of fashion (and for the late 1960s, that's saying a lot). Her favorite accessory was a floppy lime green hat, which she often wore with casual graphic tees and the kind of high waisted, wide-legged trousers that are back in vogue again. Big sunglasses, androgynous paperboy caps, and shirts with bold prints were all part of her signature look.
Vibrant color and eye-catching shapes also played a significant role in her choice of timekeepers. There are so many images of her holding a bright orange Omega stopwatch in one hand, a pen poised in the other. She made timekeeping look effortlessly cool.
LIFE, THE UNIVERSAL, AND EVERYTHING
The Universal Genève Compax is the watch that is most associated with Nina Rindt. It's a "basic" three register chronograph housed in a 36mm stainless steel case. It is powered by a signed, unadjusted column-wheel Valjoux 72 movement. Her personal Compax had a Panda dial, but collectors call the reverse configuration of this model the "Evil Nina."
Just as Rindt liked to make bold fashion choices, her horological look was also daring but clean. Back in the day, 36mm was generally considered a gents-sized watch. It's also worth noting that Rindt wore hers on a big old Bund strap. But somehow it all looked balanced with her bohemian style.
The Nina Rindt moniker has also been assigned to the negative configuration of this watch. Collectors call it the “Evil Nina.”
HIS AND HERS
For many vintage enthusiasts, the golden age of the sports chronograph also falls in line with the sexy 1960s and ’70s glory days of Le Mans and Formula One racing. Nina's husband Jochen Rindt was no slouch in the watch department. His watch of choice was the third generation Autavia Ref. 2446M.
This timepiece was characterized by a 60-minute bezel and highly legible “reverse-panda” dial. Again, the Rindts liked to serve looks that were a little different. Jochen preferred to wear his Autavia with a “beads-of-rice” bracelet, manufactured by Gay Freres. We can’t help but speculate that Nina’s free-spirited fashion sense influenced her husband’s sartorial choices.
HOW SHE WORE IT
The Universal Genève Compax was not Nina’s only watch. Follow Rindt down the Google image search rabbit hole, and you’ll see her sporting all kinds of timepieces, including a white-dialed number with an elliptical case (we went blind staring at photos trying to identify it, but failed).
But it's one thing to own a good watch, and it's another thing to wear it. Rindt prefers watches with presence. Her non-chronos have a few things in common: clean dials, interesting shapes, and substantial black leather straps. The fine-boned, blonde Rindt had a bit of an ethereal presence, so these weighty watches helped ground her look.
She also liked to wear them in unusual ways. For instance, with the watch wrist-side up. This was probably for practical reasons as it's easier to read the time when you are holding a clipboard. But we like to think that it was because that way she could sync the beating heart of the watch with her own pulse. And, if she were wearing a sweater, she would strap the watch over the sleeve, just like Italian industrialist Giovanni Agnelli!
THE LEGEND LIVES ON
While you can approximate her offbeat look, copying her wrist game is much harder. Universal Genève was bought out by a Hong Kong-based investment company in the wake of the Quartz Crisis in the late '80s. And vintage Compaxes of any configuration are highly sought after by collectors both male and female.
This is perhaps the most influential part of Rindt’s legacy. She’s just underground enough that new generations can delight in rediscovering her. Just like when you ask the average guy on the street about Universal Genève, they’ll raise an eyebrow and shrug their shoulders. But those who know, know.