Polarouter; How time flies.

A piece of history about Universal Genève

Picture it. You are tens of thousands of feet above a desolate white expanse, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Soaring at 315 MPH (507 km/h) in a piston-powered aircraft, heading to a destination that remains over half a day away. With only the stars and a gyroscope to guide you, while winds drift you off your intended course. Oh, and a Universal Genève watch of course.

These were the conditions that the crew of the Helge Viking, flight number SK931, found themselves in on the first-ever transpolar commercial flight. The SAS (Scandinavian Airline System) intended to prove the viability of flights across the North Pole, which would save thousands of miles on the trip west, and thus several hours and significant amounts of fuel. But to achieve this, they needed a watch that would withstand the harsh magnetic fields of the polar region.

They turned to Universal Genève for this challenge, who recruited one of their newest employees, Gèrald Genta, to design a watch fit to accompany SAS on the biggest aviation event in Scandinavia. The 23-year-old did not disappoint, and Genta’s original design featured an automatic, shockproof, and anti-magnetic movement known as the 138SS ‘Bumper’ movement. The nickname ‘Bumper’ refers to the rotor oscillating between two springs (bumpers) instead of fully rotating. The 138SS was soon succeeded by the famous ‘Microtor’ movements, which came with a small rotating mass incorporated in the movement and was used in all subsequent variations of the ‘Polerouter’.

The Polarouter was worn by the SAS crew as they completed this daring trip in 27h and 15m, unveiling a flight path that is replicated to this day. Universal Genève released the Polarouter — renamed the Polerouter- to the public, with the first hundreds containing a SAS logo on the dial. Over the next 12 years, Universal Genève released several variations of the classic Polerouter. This included the classic case featuring Bombe lugs and an inner index ring — the Polerouter de Luxe and the Polerouter Date. They also adapted the casing and dial designs later, with the Polerouter Compact, Polerouter Genève and more.

Gèrald Genta went on to become one of the most famous watch designers of all time, creating classics such as the Bulgari Bulgari, the Omega Constellation, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus.

The Polerouter is a sought-after collectable, particularly due to the unique trapezoid shaping of the date window and distinctive textured dial. But mainly because it will always remain the first watch that helped time fly.

Read more about Universal Genève at https://votief.com/universal-geneve/

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