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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 late execution date model with a beautiful deep blue dial and asymmetrical date window with original magnifying crystal. With a svelte 34mm steel case, fancy scripted date numerals and simple stick markers, this piece makes for an infinitely wearable watch in a variety of settings, and whether paired with a fabric strap or its original (!) signed steel bracelet, it is incredibly comfortable on the wrist. One of this model's best features lies internally: the in-house Universal Genève micro-rotor movement. Early Polerouters employed a bumper automatic movement, but the micro-rotor movement is what Universal Genève is really known for. The purpose of the micro-rotor is to save space and allow for thinner movements, and thus 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 Calibre 1-69 Automatic micro-rotor movement. Circa 1970s.
Overall condition: Steel case is in excellent condition throughout, showing only light signs of wear from age and use. Original blue dial is in very good condition with light signs of aging and patinated luminescent plots. Original luminous hands show light patina consistent with age. Magnified acrylic crystal is original to the watch and shows light swirls, but was retained for the purposes of maintaining originality. Original case back and signed crown.
Includes original steel bracelet with signed clasp and two 18mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.