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Why We Love It
There's no shortage of vintage watches, and certainly no shortage of wrists on which to don them, but rare is the watch that can check multiple boxes in the heart and head of a collector.
Take for example this lovely Universal Genève stainless dress watch. Dating from the 1950s, it features a Polerouter-style twisted lug case sized at 33.5mm, Calibre 138SS automatic bumper-wind movement, and a silver satin dial with applied dart indices with Arabic numerals at the quadrants - giving it a distinctive Explorer-esque vibe. It also uses a 'dauphine' handset with center seconds and features an applied logo at 12:00.
Pushing this lovely watch into the realm of true rarity, however, is the secondary signature on the dial - that of J.E. Caldwell & Co - a storied Jeweler in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who originally retailed the timepiece. This signature, as obscure as it might be for those outside the Keystone State, is a window into how the industry used to be run. Today, finding a retailer signature on a contemporary piece is incredibly rare and usually only found on ultra-luxury brands. But in the 1950s the world of mechanical timekeeping was experiencing boom times, and major houses such as Universal Genève were more than happy to produce special dials for their key accounts.
This lovely piece is not only a work of art, but a legitimate historical artifact!
Most of us, even the most diehard collectors, know only one watch designer by name: Gerald Genta.
The man behind the AP Royal Oak, the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the IWC Ingenieur, Genta changed the watch industry with his luxury stainless steel sports watches. But before he could pioneer haute horology, he had cut his teeth on a more approachable timepiece; the Universal Genève Polerouter.
The Polerouter was Genta's first watch hit, penned by the young Swiss designer at the age of 23. The watch was a sales success and propelled Genta’s career forward (allowing us to have greats like the Royal Oak and the Nautilus.) The first Polerouter was released in 1954 to celebrate and promote Scandinavian Airlines’ Royal Viking polar flights between New York City, Los Angeles and Europe. The flights forged a new route over the North Pole, reducing flight times between the two continents. Flying over the North Pole presented a unique set of challenges for a watch, and the Polerouter was designed to be highly resistant to magnetic fields (in addition to the usual shock and water resistance) so as to maintain accuracy during the trip.
Stainless Steel case is approximately 33.5mm (excluding crown). Calibre 138SS Bumper Wind Automatic Movement by Universal Genève. Universal Genève Reference 20219. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: The case is in good condition overall, showing wear and polish consistent with age and use. Non-luminous satin silver dial shows light, even patination with matching Dauphine handset. Double signed for J.E. Caldwell & Co. Unsigned crown.
Includes Nemo Blue Analogshift leather strap with steel pin buckle.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options