In the early 1950’s, SAS became the first airline to start trans-arctic routes from Europe to the United States. While a remarkable achievement, the strong magnetism in the North Pole affected the airplane’s instruments and the pilots’ watches, and posed a big problem for navigation in the pre-digital era. With this challenge at hand, Universal Genève, supplier of timepieces of SAS at the time, set to create new line of accurate, anti-magnetic pieces that would remain reliable along many transcontinental flights. The new line was released in 1954 and appropriately called Polarouter —changed to Polerouter the following year.
Gerald Genta, the now-famous designer of icons such as the AP Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, was only 23 years old when he was asked to envision the look of the Polerouter. A diminutive 34.5mm case featured large, triangular hands on a variety of dials with a fixed, ‘radiant’ numeral outer ring. The entire ensemble came in a variety of colours and configurations, and was wrapped in elegant, twisting lugs. The earlier watches featured 1950’s bumper movements that evolved into microrotor automatics after 1962. The original Polerouter line ended in 1969, and returned with quartz power at the turn of the 1990’s, without success.
This particular example is a post-1962 microrotor Polerouter, and is presented in a tasteful yellow-and-rose gold dial in a gold-plated case. All functions work well, yet it has the slight inaccuracies of a watch of this vintage.