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Gerald Genta, ever hear of him? He’s the Swiss dude that, after some sketching, kinda created both Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus. Yup, that guy. Well, before those flashy steel legends, at the fresh age of 23, he started his first big hit for a little company called Universal Geneve. He began designing the watch that would, one day, be the most iconic watch the brand would ever produce – this watch, the Polerouter. One of my absolute favorite watches and my first and only mechanical watch ever.
So – what’s the story behind this watch? And why the name “Polerouter?” Well, on November 14, 1948, SAS (the Scandinavian Airline System) officially opened their Copenhagen-to-Los Angeles flight – for which they had cut the normal 36 hour travel time to 22 hours. Their shortcut? The polar circle. But there was one problem – magnetism. Not only did it mess with navigation systems, but it skewed their timekeepers. Universal Geneve, the official supplier watchmakers for SAS, brought in Genta to design a watch that would commemorate the groundbreaking flight and serve as the SAS’s official airline pilot watch. Genta’s design was aptly called the “Pola/Polerouter” and was gifted to each pilot and crew member upon landing in LAX.
Much better known that it’s genuinely impressive history is this watch’s iconic design, a humble 35-36mm featuring a bullseye dial and twisted lugs. Powered by the Universal Geneve caliber 218-2, this 1960’s example is exemplary, with its sharp twisted steel case, mint dial. The movement features gorgeous Geneva stripes, and a microtor, which powers the watch and reveals the entire movement.
So how does it wear? Incredibly well. It’s twisted lugs hug the wrist beautifully and its thin case complements the power of the dial. What it may lack in size, it makes up for in boldness – you can see that here in the crispness of the bullseye. If the physical diameter doesn’t pop off your wrist, this bright, sharp, cream definitely will.
The pole router is so much more than just a “Genta watch.” It’s one of the first creations of a brilliant designer and a horological genius. To me, the Polerouter is versatile, it’s universal and it has unmatched charisma. I wear my Polerouter in snow boots, loafers, and sandals – in sleeveless cotton and thick, thigh-length wool. It’s my first and only mechanical watch and to me it is the perfect one-watch collection. It boasts character and taste without any snobbery. Not to mention, it’s one of Genta’s best designs, with one of the lowest price tags.
It represents one of the best built watches in the vintage world, manufactured by a brand now being recognized for its merit as one of the worlds best and designed by arguably the most important designer in the watch world. And I couldn’t be more proud to offer this brilliant example to you, in the vintage watch shop at T&H.