1950’s Polerouter De-Luxe

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The History

In November of 1952, in an effort to cut down on flight times, Scandinavian Airlines made history with the first exploratory flights over the north pole. The commercial implications of these expeditions were huge; not only would they save a rapidly expanded passenger market travel time but also millions of dollars in fuel efficiency. To make these flights viable, Scandinavian Airlines developed state-of-the-art equipment that would allow pilots to navigate safely near the earth’s magnetic poles where traditional compasses wouldn’t work.

To commemorate this scientific achievement, Universal Geneve decided to create a new watch, hiring an unknown 23 year old designer named Gerald Genta. This is of course the same Gerald Genta who would go on to design the two most recognizable watches of the 20th century, the  Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philipe Nautilus.

The Polerouter – initially dubbed “the Polarouter” –  launched in 1954 featuring a17-jewel caliber 138 SS movement with plain surface finishing and rhodium-plating. The Polerouter was a major success and spawned a number of variants over its initial 15 year life span including the Polerouter De-Luxe range you see here today.

The Reference

The Polerouter De-Luxe is easily distinguished from the original Polerouter design with its distinct, square-sided curved lugs. All models in the De-Luxe range feature solid gold cases, however,  a number of different dial variations exist including gold, black, enamel, and commemorative editions along with a rumored white dial. Of all of the dial variations, some come with, and some without, crosshairs. The Polerouter seen here is a Ref. 10234-3, as is noted by the markings on the caseback, and was produced some time in the mid to late 50’s.

The Case

The watch features a solid 18k gold case with a Universal Geneve “U” signed crown. The case measures 38mm with and 35mm without the crown while coming in just under 12mm thick; the lugs measure 18mm. The case itself has light scratches throughout but there are no major scratches or dings to note.

The Dial and Hands

The black dial features crosshairs, triangular fluted indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. and a ribbed gold tension ring. There is no applied U logo on the dial, rather Universal Geneve is printed at the top of the dial with the word automatic (now faded) positioned at the bottom. The acrylic crystal shows light scratches throughout.

The watch is a time only, three-hand watch. The hands themselves are sword style, in gold, with a sweeping center seconds hand.

The Movement

The case houses the automatic caliber 138 SS movement (as marked on the movement itself) and is currently running and keeping good time.  The six notch, screw-in case back is stamped with the reference number, 10234-3, and the serial number, 1761252, as well as the letter W. The inside of the caseback is stamped with the Universal Geneve crest, the word Swiss, and an 18k 0750 mark. There are also two additional jewelers marks. The inside of the caseback also features a handwritten marking in red ink.

The watch comes on an aftermarket black leather strap with an aftermarket gold buckle.


Seller Livingstonsatnight
Auction Number 118
Location New York City
Brand Universal Geneve
Model Polerouter De-Luxe
Reference Number 10234-2
Movement Automatic Caliber 138 SS
Year 1950's
Dial Black
Case Width 35mm
Case Material 18k Yellow Gold
Band Material Leather Strap
Clasp Type Buckle
Original Box No
Original Papers No
Seller Type Individual

Auction has expired

Auction Expired because there were no bids
Auction started
September 16, 2020 8:50 am

Auction Expired

Auction Expired because there were no bids

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  1. daytonaman

    This dial combination with the 18k gold case is special.