Steel Universal Polarouter Ref. 20217 -3 vintage wristwatch, circa 1954
A rare and stylish stainless steel automatic centre seconds wristwatch with bombé lugs
Universal launched their ‘Polarouter’ model towards the end of 1954 but soon after the model name was changed to ‘Polerouter’. Early examples of the model, such as the present wristwatch, which incorporate the ‘Polarouter’ logo are especially scarce.
Above is a detail showing the 1954 Polarouter signature to the present watch and, to its right, the Polerouter logo from a Ref. 20217 -5 dating to 1955. Note the change in shape and design of the Universal shield and the subtle changes to the fonts and cross-hair. To see the Ref. 20217 -5 with Polerouter signature, see here: https://www.blackbough.co.uk/product/universal-polerouter-ref-20217-5-steel-vintage-wristwatch-circa-1955-wwup1/
Reference 20217 has an extremely distinctive and bold case design, the so-called ‘bombé’ lugs have a sinuous flow with a polished finish. The broad flat bezel enhances both the solidity and size of the watch and adds considerably to the case’s exceptional profile view. The silvered dial has a circular satin finish and is quartered by a black cross-hair design. An inner steel bezel is calibrated at the hours with fine milling between each marker. One of the most original and unusual vintage watch designs, it’s no surprise to learn that it was none other than the legendary Gerald Genta (he of Patek Philippe ‘Nautilus’ and Audemars Piguet ‘Royal Oak’ fame) that worked with Universal on the model’s design.
The Polerouter series is one of Universal’s most famous model lines. Polerouters were the official pilots’ watches of the Scandinavian Airline, SAS. In 1954, SAS launched a new route from Copenhagen to New York which flew over the North Pole. This new route exposed the planes to strong magnetic fields that could adversely effect the timekeeping of a mechanical wristwatch. The Polarouter was designed to counter these effects and provide precision timekeeping for the Scandinavian Airline.
Universal bumper automatic calibre 138SS movement, lever escapement, 17 jewels, compensation balance, 18,000 BPH, Incabloc shock absorber; silvered dial with circular satin finish, dauphine hands, black cross-hair, inner steel bezel calibrated at the hours; large polished stainless steel case, bombé lugs, flat polished bezel, screw-down case back, replacement unsigned crown; case, dial and movement signed.
Diameter excluding winding crown: 35.5mm
Length including lugs: 46mm
Depth to centre of crystal: 11mm
Strap width/lug gauge: 19mm
All our watches have been fully serviced and overhauled and are sold with a one year guarantee and detailed Black Bough certificate. This watch is accompanied by a Black Bough fitted presentation box.