Universal Genève Jumbo Polerouter Sub SuperCompressor
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Universal Genève Jumbo Polerouter Sub SuperCompressor

Though often classed among Universal Genève’s dressier offerings, the Polerouter had exploration at the heart of its development, making it an ideal choice to travel in a new environment: beneath the waves.

In the early 1950s, Universal Genève was the official watch supplier to Scandinavian Airlines. After the inauguration of their first polar flights—in fact, the first ever offered—they requested a watch that could withstand the unique challenges that this route posed. They enlisted the help of a young designer named Gerald Genta, who—though only 23 and a relative unknown—nevertheless numbered a few commissions under his belt.

The polar route used by Scandinavian Airlines proved problematic when watches were concerned. As anyone who has owned a vintage watch knows, magnetism is the enemy of accurate timekeeping, and the pilots and personnel of the airline soon found that out. So Scandinavian Airlines tapped Universal Genève, who had already designed watches with antimagnetic properties, and the Polerouter was what resulted.

The Polerouter was released commercially in 1954 and became a flyaway hit. Its long, twisted lugs and elegant dial ranked it in a class with Omega’s dressier Seamaster models. But as stylish as it was, it featured a workhorse automatic movement that was housed in an anti-magnetic steel case.

Before long, Universal Genève released an aquatic variant: the Polerouter Sub, also designed by Genta.

Though Universal Genève also produced one with a single crown, it’s this twin-crowned variant that was the first—and also the most desirable.

It uses a SuperCompressor case designed by Ervin Piquerez SA or EPSA. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the case served as the bedrock of dive watches used by brands as varied as Benrus and Longines (whose version is perhaps the rarest). However, it’s this version by Universal Genève that is one of the most desired among collectors, not least of all due to its connection to Genta.

Unlike its more formal, aviation-inspired progenitor, the Polerouter Sub SuperCompressor is a tool watch through and through.

The Polerouter Super Compressor Sub had 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. Though the lume has dropped from the hands—a common malady in watches from this era—we have elected to keep them as is in order to maintain integrity.

Examples of the first execution are rare, as uncommonly-seen as SuperCompressors made by Longines, and are thus highly desirable—what a treat it is to be able to offer one here.

Details

SKU: AS02355

Stainless steel SuperCompressor case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). Calibre 218-97 Self-Winding movement.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition, showing signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition, showing darkened lume plots in the hour markers. The lume is missing from the hands. Correct crowns.

Includes one 22mm black leather strap.

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