A Week On The Wrist The Universal Genève Polerouter
Gérald Genta planned the Patek Philippe Nautilus. He planned the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. He’s a legend in any way shape or form. In any case, even legends need to begin some place. Furthermore, the Universal Genève Polerouter, from 1954, isn’t just his first show-stopper, but on the other hand it’s the ideal beginning spot for any vintage watch collection.
In the mid ’50s, Universal Genève enrolled an obscure 23-year-old Genta to plan a watch out of appreciation for the recently opened “polar course” worked by Scandinavian Airlines Systems. The course opened up a speedier path between Los Angeles and Copenhagen, flying over the magnetic North Pole. The watch Genta planned was given to the pilots and group of these flights, and it proceeded to fill in as the establishment for a whole line of watches under the Polerouter designation.
The most punctual instances of the watch were known as the “Polarouter” for a concise initial period in 1954, preceding Universal Genève named the watch “Polerouter.” The plan demonstrated a commercial achievement, and Universal Genève (which is tragically now dead) later added various lines to the family: The Polerouter Super, Polerouter Date, Polerouter Day-Date, Polerouter Jet, Polerouter De Luxe, Polerouter NS, Polerouter III, Polerouter Compact, and even a Polerouter Sub, an adaptation made for jumping. For the reasons for this story, “Polerouter” alludes to the first execution and the contiguous models that highlighted slight varieties (like the incorporation of a date or a screw-down crown). Basically all were – and still are – profoundly wearable.
Even today, it’s not difficult to begin to look all starry eyed at the Polerouter: It’s an even combination of all that makes a mid-century observe so beguiling (like lyre hauls, a compact case, and a moderate dial). It’s reminiscent of an easier time, and it’s unobtrusively exquisite, yet it has the foundations of an apparatus watch. All things considered, it was made for life at 25,000 feet.
And at that point there’s the unimaginable incentive. An authority with a desire for Genta’s plans could buy a pristine Patek Phillipe Nautilus ref. 5711 from the store for generally $30,000, or for a similar measure of cash, they could gather an assortment of approximately 15 Polerouter models, traversing references in valuable metals and including uncommon executions. The Polerouter regularly exists toward one side of the gathering venture, with the Nautilus on the other. It’s a “door watch” not exclusively to Genta’s plans, however to the universe of vintage looks as a whole.
The Polerouter Takes Flight
In current occasions, the kickoff of another commercial carrier course doesn’t justify the making of a watch, however the mid-1950s were an altogether extraordinary time – simply 50 years eliminated from the initially supported Wright Brothers flight. At the point when the Polerouter hit the market, commercial flight had become open to a developing working class. Planes were jumbling the globe and taking individuals to places they’d already just longed for going. The world was prepared for a watch that typified the energy and sentiment of aviation.
On November 15, 1954, SAS opened another commercial course between Los Angeles and Copenhagen, working a Douglas DC-6B. Two planes removed, the Helge Viking and the Leif Viking, each from one finish of the course. They ran into each other directly over the North Pole. It required 22 hours instead of the regular 36 by flying the ‘polar course’ – the most immediate line between the two urban areas – and they saved 14 hours, making the excursion in less than a day. This was already unimaginable, as the course elaborate getting over the navigational north pole, however the magnetic pole was still around 1,000 kilometers south, possibly perplexing the airplane course as the compass-based frameworks couldn’t keep up totally exact navigational readings.
The usage of the gyro, a gadget that keeps a plane consequently on course, changed that, alongside the sunlight based compass and aeronautical graphs of the polar area created during WWII. It’s frequently said that SAS chose for work with Universal Genève because of their known ability in creating hostile to magnetic development innovation, and that the Polerouter watch was explicitly evolved to be impenetrable to the unfavorable impacts of magnetism, however this is guess at best.
The first Polarouters hit the market in 1954. The story goes that the North American market, one of the biggest fare markets, experienced difficulty with the articulation. So in 1955, the Universal Genève showcasing division changed the name to Polerouter to make it more digestible.
At a similar time the standard model hit the commercial market for broad utilization, Universal Genève made various models only for SAS to convey to the teams of the principal Copenhagen-Los Angeles (and Los Angeles-Copenhagen) flights. These were rarely available to be purchased, and Adam Hambly, who runs the conclusive site on Polerouters , accepts (in light of sequential number exploration) that just around 150 models exist. These watches were checked Polarouter; later models bearing the SAS logo on the dial would be made for American chiefs of the carrier. Genta hadn’t yet become a name in horological plan when the Polerouter came out, and there’s little proof that the Polerouter pushed him to such a fame in the industry.
Installed Propulsion Systems
The Polarouter appeared in ’54 with the type 138 SS guard development, which had been presented in 1948 and utilized all through Universal Genève’s whole line. The type ran at 18,000 vph and used a weighted “bumper” that swayed, winding the watch one way. At 28mm with insignificant completing, it’s fairly unimpressive.
The Polerouter immediately got an update. While it was presented with the 138 SS, only one year into the creation run the miniature rotor type 215 was fitted. The Polerouter Date got the Caliber 215-1, an adaptation with, you got it, a date module. The 215 and its date variation utilized a miniature rotor winding instrument, created in the mid ’50s. Widespread Genève recorded the patent in ’55 and enrolled in ’58, yet the type was introduced in Polerouter models as ahead of schedule as ’55. At that point, this type addressed a monstrous jump in innovation. The type 215, and the date variation, the type 215-1, highlighted cotes de Genève completing, 17 gems, incabloc stun assurance, gold plating on the rotor, and a 60-hour power reserve.
And it didn’t stop there. The Polerouter was a commercial achievement, and Universal Genève, outfitted with Genta’s plans, continued pushing. Next was the time-just type 218-9 and the 218-2 with a date complication. The 218-2 contrasted from the 215-1 in the specific position of the date. On the 215-1, the section ring wasn’t coterminous; there was a removed for the date wheel. On the 218-2, the date moved marginally internal, permitting the section ring to be completely adjoining, yet with a more modest cut-out for the date window. This new yield of developments ran at 21,600 vph and highlighted 28 gems on account of a plan update to the baseplate.
On the wrist, the guard development feels vastly different than the miniature rotor development. While the miniature rotor development wears much the same as any advanced programmed watch, the guard development has the quality of being instinctively intelligent. One can feel the “knocks” when the watch is moved around; it nearly feels like a kids’ toy with a type of wrap up instrument inside. While the type 215 is prevalent from a specialized viewpoint, a Polerouter fitted with a 138 SS makes the feeling that it’s alive.
When hand-winding the development, the 138 SS is stronger, and the input makes it simple to envision the mechanical pieces associating in light of the fact that the perceptible crunch is so unmistakable. Wearing the 138 SS Models is likened to steering something like a Boeing Stearman, a tough airframe that requires a “without much forethought” way to deal with flying, and the miniature rotor developments are nearer to the working the Sud Aviation Caravelle, SAS’s first fly carrier, brimming with robotized systems.
Flying By Feel
The references with valuable metal cases feel sufficiently substantial to have a presence. In tempered steel, it’s difficult to feel the watch by any means. The completely level caseback and insignificant impression mean the watch wears flush. The caseback meets the case at ninety degrees, and the caseback likewise meets the wrist at 90 degrees. It wears as compact as it looks.
On SAS flights, ham was in no short supply.
Polerouter models are close to 35mm – approximately a millimeter over, about a millimeter under – a standard size for a watch from the 1950s. Tying it on and appreciating the sensation of the Polerouter on the wrist expects one to get in the correct headspace. The case size may be humble, however the philosophy appended to the watch actually invokes aeronautical extravagance. In the time of the Polerouter, SAS included an everything you-can-eat smorgasbord of Smørrebrød, a danish open-confronted sandwich, in economy class. Sharp looking, agreeable airline stewards would wheel around a truck highlighting a leg of ham that would be cut and appropriated seatside.
Of course, it tends to be hazardous to fetishize midcentury innovation as we will in general over-romanticize the past, however watches are a type of idealism. They take our brain elsewhere in existence, either genuine or imagined.
With almost 1,000 executions, it’s hard to tell where to begin regarding finding a particular plan to gather. The most pursued models have a dark dial wrapped with a hardened steel part ring, cased in steel. Models with wide bolt hands are valued by gatherers since they’re believed to be uncommon. Cases have been made both in America and Switzerland, and a few gatherers have an inclination. But at the same time that is the great part about the Polerouter. The one that addresses you probably won’t be one of the more pursued models. It’s muddled if Genta played a part in the plan of ensuing models, however one thing is without a doubt: He established the framework for a tremendous group of Polerouter models with the underlying plan. Part of the achievement of the Polerouter is the scope practiced in plan. A full scope of watch-hand styles (dauphine, bolt, rod, stick) appear some place in the Polerouter family.
Adam Hambly has spent a decent arrangement of his life gathering and exploring the Universal Genève Polerouter. He inventories reference numbers and attempts to recreate the best picture, through information, of the creation behind the watch. He’s logged a huge number of watches, however his work is just beginning.
“If it’s a riddle, at that point we have the boundary,” he says. “Be that as it may, we don’t have within pieces sorted out. We may have some blue ones – however they could be the ocean or the sky.”
Even however the Polerouter has been a gatherer top pick for a long while, so many were made in such countless various executions that beforehand obscure models spring up right up ’til today. What’s generally mystical about the Polerouter, Hambly says, is that anybody has a reasonable possibility at discovering something that is uncommon or low-production.
Of course, that is changing as the watch becomes more famous among new authorities. Costs, beginning at around $1,000 (a “great” model can be had for under $2,000, Hambly says) are open. Furthermore, there’s wide enough assortment in visual executions and case materials that people who begin to look all starry eyed at the Polerouter normally gather a couple of them. This makes it a pleasant watch to begin with, or end with.
And nowadays, when even regular customers are practically grounded, it’s simpler than at any other time to tie on a Polerouter and become insightful for the brilliant period of flying.