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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.
Polerouters are not especially rare watches, though that is not to say that what’s available is often in very good condition. As is the case with any multi-decade-old watch, finding a clean, quality example is no easy task.
This particular example is a beauty throughout, featuring a silver-toned quadrant dial. A non-date model, this piece also features sword hands, a signed crown, and the hallmark textured inner bezel ring and signature bombe lugs. Early Polerouters featured bumper-wind automatics, but this one features the later micro-rotor movement, which is what these are really known for. The introduction of the micro-rotor saved space internally and allowed for thinner watches, making it unusually comfortable for an automatic.
All in all, this is a simple, elegant watch from one of the most important names in the industry. Genta’s designs are as good as it gets, and the Polerouter is one of the most affordable ways to get into a vintage Genta piece. When you strap one to your wrist you’ll quickly see why collectors are always on the hunt for exceptional Polerouters.
Stainless steel case is approximately 34mm (excluding the crown). Universal Genève Automatic micro-rotor movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall condition: Case is in great condition throughout, showing light normal signs of wear from age and use. Original dial shows signs of aging and darkly patinated luminescent plots. "Automatic" printing is partially diminished. Original luminous hands show patina consistent with age. Original signed crown and case back.
Includes brown leather strap and two 18mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.