Amundsen Oslo Polar Prototypes

Amundsen Oslo Polar Prototypes

For centuries, the Poles have served as lodestones, drawing explorers to the farthest reaches of the Earth. Men from many nations raced to be the first to stand at geographic north and geographic south. When Robert Peary reached the North Pole in 1909, Norwegian Roald Amundsen turned his eyes southward and became the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911.

Nearly one hundred years later, Amundsen’s descendent, Jørgen, buried a watch at the North Pole—a watch he had created to honor the memory of his intrepid ancestor.

In 2002, Jørgen founded Amundsen Oslo, a watch company with the aim of creating timepieces that could withstand extreme temperatures at the Poles. In creating his first watches, he enlisted the help of Tecan, a Swiss company that builds laboratory automation devices. Tecan constructed the multi-layered dial out of nickel using a Photo ElectroForming technology; the dial, which consisted of two pieces, had a grid-shaped overlay that was meant to represent lines for latitude and longitude.

Only 250 pieces were made of this Polar wristwatch in black, and none in white. 

When the Amundsen Polar was announced to the world, Amundsen declared his intention to follow in his great grand-uncle’s footsteps and blaze his own trail northward. Accompanied by a team of explorers, Amundsen skied to the North Pole. There, with great solemnity, he buried a watch in the ice.

The story has an interesting coda: three years later, in 2007, an 11 year-old boy named Niels Mortensen found a black box near his home in the Faeroe Islands. Intrigued, he and his mother Anna opened the box to find that it contained the selfsame watch that Amundsen buried at the Pole. Most likely, the chunk of ice in which the watch had been buried broke off and was carried away by the currents of the Arctic Ocean, until it rested in the Mortensens’ backyard nearly 2000 miles from the Pole.

The watch was still running.

Amundsen’s watches have found their way back to the Poles time and again. In 2004, the company was selected as the official timekeeper for the first Antarctic Cup, a yachting race around the continent. And in 2007, endurance and cold water swimmer Lewis Pugh wore an Amundsen watch when he swam across the Geographic North Pole.

Skiing on the ice alongside him was Jørgen Amundsen himself, urging him on. 

It had been Amundsen’s plan to release both a North and a South Pole watch. However, only the former was ever produced. But prototypes of the South Pole watch exist, with white dials instead of the black found on the North Pole watch.

We feature prototypes of both watches here.

With sturdy 42mm steel cases, the shape of their cases hearkens back to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. On a steel bracelet, they are rugged and sporty, which is somewhat softened with the inclusion of a strap. Rare and unique, these watches perfectly encapsulate the nature of polar exploration.

We make much of the feats of explorers like Jørgen's ancestor, Roald, or of Robert Peary and Ernest Shackleton. We speak of the age of polar exploration like it's in the past tense. But people like Jørgen Amundsen and Lewis Pugh only prove that the age of exploration is not over, and as long as there are those like Amundsen and Pugh who couple a daring, adventurous spirit with a love of nature, it will never end. 


SKU: AS02157

Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). ETA Calibre 2824 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 2004.

Overall Condition: Both watches are in excellent condition overall with only the slightest signs of wear consistent with handling. Dials are likewise in excellent condition, as new. Exhibition case backs are in excellent condition.

Includes 22mm stainless steel bracelets. Bracelets are in excellent condition with minor signs of handling.

Also includes box, unworn strap, polishing cloth, strap changing tools.

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