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Much has been made of Jacques Cousteau. His contributions to SCUBA diving and his commitment to conservation are matchless. More than that, his books and films brought a worldwide awareness to the life aquatic.
During World War II, while Cousteau was in the French Navy, he filmed 18 meters deep using a camera with a depth-proof case. It would be the first French-language film ever to be shot underwater. Though Cousteau didn’t use any kind of breathing apparatus, by the time production on his next film—Shipwrecks—would begin, he would use a prototype of the Aqua-Lung, which would serve as the basis for the open-circuit scuba technology used today.
His adventures in the Underwater Research Group of the French Navy were immortalized in the book The Silent World. In this book, Cousteau recounted his experiences developing and then testing the Aqua-Lung, and later, diving in shipwrecks. The film adaptation of the book, released in 1956, would be the first film to show underwater scenes shot in color.
It would later win an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The same year that The Silent World debuted, Ervin Piquerez SA would release the Super Compressor case.
Manufactured by Ervin Piquerez S.A. (EPSA) from the 1950s to the 1970s, the Super Compressor case design came in two sizes, 36mm and 42mm (the latter featured here). SuperCompressor cases are notable for their spring-loaded case backs, which actually tighten when exposed to higher pressures underwater. The dual crowns at 2 and 4 o'clock (one to set the time and the other to control the inner diver's rotating bezel) feature a distinctive cross-hatch finishing.
It was a design used by many brands from Girard-Perregaux and Bulova to (perhaps most famously) Longines and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
This example by Universal Genève is part of the Polerouter line designed by a young Gerald Genta, who would go on to achieve even greater fame and glory with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Though most Polerouters are dress watches in design and function, the Sub is a dive watch, with a form-follows-function design that nevertheless bears Genta’s masterful touch.
The Polerouter Super Compressor Sub would have two executions, distinguishable by several factors. First is the lume plots on the dial—in the first execution, there would just be tiny dots of lume on the hour markers; but in the second, the hour markers would be completely painted over. The second distinguishing factor is the case: the first execution would be characterized by a case with gently sloping lugs while the second, in true Genta fashion, would have prominent bevels.
What we offer here is an example of the first execution. The gorgeous sloping lugs are crisp, and the luminescent dots on the hour markers have aged to a lovely patina. With a rich underwater heritage, the Super Compressor Sub by Universal Genève is an artifact from a time when undersea explorers like Jacques Cousteau brought a new light to a world without sun.
Stainless steel Super Compressor case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). Universal Genève micro-rotor movement. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel Super Compressor case is in very good condition with sharp lugs and minor signs of use and wear. Dial is likewise in very good condition with fine even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour plots and hands. Cross-hatched Super Compressor crowns. Case back has some scratches but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm nylon strap.