Universal Genève Polerouter Date Automatic 18ct 1959
100% Genuine & All Original
Fully Inspected, Serviced and Guaranteed
A Beautiful Original and Lightly Used Example
Size Large 34mm, excluding the Original Universal Crown
Immaculate 18ct Yellow Gold Universal Swiss Made Fully Signed Case
Original, Unrestored Solid Gold Dial With Original ‘Dauphine’ Hands
Pristine UG Cal.215-1, 28 Jewel, High-Grade Automatic Movement
New, High Quality Black Lizard Strap & Gold-Plated Buckle
All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Stunning Condition
VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee Included
VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty*
Hardwood Presentation Box Included
Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery
Free UK Special Delivery
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It’s often a surprise to most people outside the watch community that Universal Genève was once one of the biggest players in the Swiss watch industry. Since its early beginnings in 1894, Universal was always highly respected for being one of a few true Swiss watch ‘Manufacturers’, meaning an ‘in-house’ producer of complete watches, with in-house movements. The company continued throughout the 20th century to deliver numerous important ‘firsts’ in watchmaking. Along with Audemars Piguet, Girard Perregaux, Patek Philippe and Rolex, the company also became world renowned for its innovation, craftsmanship and quality. This is impressive in itself, but when one considers the company produced mainly advanced chronograph movements and other ‘complications’, this makes Universal almost unique.
Some Universal firsts include:- The first company to produce a wrist-worn chronograph in 1917, when the notion of a timepiece worn on a wrist was still a novelty among gentlemen of a certain standing. In 1925 the company submitted some of the first patents for the self-winding watch, called the Auto Rem. In 1934: The creation of the double push-button Compur chronograph wristwatch, which was the first movement equipped with two column wheels and in 1944, the company presented the Tri-Compax. an hour-counter chronograph, with triple-date calendar and moon-phase display, which went on to become one of watchmaking’s greatest 20th-century achievements.
During the 1950s, Universal also became famous for its ‘Polerouter’, which was one of the first great designs created by Gerald Genta, the Swiss-born watch genius, at the tender age of 23. Genta later went on to huge success, working with many of the big names in the Swiss watch industry, including Omega, Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe.
The Polerouter family of watches was launched in 1954 to coincide with the first commercial flights from Europe to the US over the North Pole! SAS’s (Scandinavian Airlines Systems) direct flights to New York and Los Angeles were big news and marked huge advance for the aviation industry at the time.
These are fascinating watches from many aspects, characterised by their strikingly modern dial designs and their advanced ‘Microtor’ automatic movements. These were designed for dependability in such adverse magnetic conditions such as the cockpit of an early jetliner crossing continents, over the North Pole.
Most of these watches were made in gold-plated steel or stainless steel. However, a few were made in solid gold. Even fewer, such as the rare ‘Polerouter Date’ example seen here, were produced in 18ct gold with a matching 18ct solid gold dial.
This watch is perfect for evening wear, or everyday use should you so wish.
The most obvious and striking feature of this watch is, of course, the dial. In essence a clean, simple and unfussy design. However, in solid 18ct yellow gold, it makes quite a statement. It may seem a little odd today for a watch manufacturer to produce a watch with a solid gold dial. However, for a few, such as Omega, Longines and Universal, this became quite the norm for their top of the line watches during the late 1950s and ’60s. Considered in the context of the time, these were frighteningly expensive watches. The Polerouter Deluxe for example, when new, would have cost more than an average family car! This was at a time when a family car was even more expensive, compared to the average wage, than today.
The watch we see here is the slightly rarer ‘Polerouter Date’ which includes a date function. The dial carries an outer stepped chapter ring, with sunken hour indices, swept by original ‘Dauphine’ hands. The dial carries the applied Universal brand and is signed ‘Universal Genéve’, ‘Polerouter Date’ with ‘Automatic’ and ‘Microtor’ below, with ‘Swiss’ at the bottom. The dial also carries some very light vertical graining which helps to catch the light beautifully.
The dial is original and unrestored and has been left untouched by our restoration team because of its excellent condition, relative to its age. Usually, we restore the dials of the watches we list. However, here we decided to retain its originality and charm for those who prefer this, as the dial is in near perfect condition. The even fading and speckling is not offensive as it is hardly noticeable when the watch is on the wrist. This contrasts with most of the other watch dials on this website which have been restored. If you particularly like this watch and you would prefer to buy the watch and have the dial restored we will be happy to arrange this with some small price adjustment.
Note – the images you see here were taken with a high-resolution professional camera and high power macro lens. Please also remember the photographs on your computer screen are many times larger than the watch is in real life.
In 1954, Univeral created and patented the micro-rotor movement, a new type of self-winding movement with an oscillating weight integrated within. This was first used in the Universal Cal.215 automatic and later the Cal.215-1 date automatic, which is the movement you see here. This was yet another significant first for Universal, as until the Cal.215, all automatic movements used a large rotor with a central pivot. Universal called this its ‘Microtor Automatic’. The design saves a great deal of space, making possible a thinner watch case. It also enabled the full case height to be utilised by the movement drivetrain, so providing better accuracy and reliability. This is the reason Patek Philippe uses this design in its high-end automatic movement today.
This movement was also specified to be anti-magnetic, to withstand the magnetic flux within the cockpit of jetliners flying over the North Pole. Prior to advances in the design of antimagnetic movements, watches often became erratic or effectively inoperative, during or following exposure to magnetic fields. This typically happened if a watch came too close to electrical equipment or machinery. Even a 1950s radio or TV could render a movement inoperative. This was a major issue for watch manufacturers, particularly prior to the introduction of non-magnetic hairsprings.
The Cal.215-1, 28 Jewel, antimagnetic, micro-rotor automatic ‘date’ movement here is an absolute gem. Geneva Stripes and highly polished surfaces are always a good indication of quality. Also to a degree, the number of jewels and the large escapement wheel with Girocap shock protected cap jewels. As you will see, this is all beautifully finished which is always evidence of high quality.
This movement has just been thoroughly overhauled and serviced by our watchmaker. This means fully dismantling to all its component parts, ultrasonic cleaning, close inspection of the critical surfaces under high magnification and replacement as necessary with only genuine original parts, then careful reassembly and oiling, using all the correct lubricants to manufacturer’s specification, before final testing and calibration. The movement has a micro regulator allowing for very fine calibration of the movement, therefore the watch is running perfectly having been calibrated, tested and timed at -6 seconds per day! This timing is outstanding for any watch of this age so we have complete confidence in offering this watch with our 12 month guarantee.*
The power reserve is excellent at 57 hours when fully wound.
The watch movement is signed ‘Universal Genève’, ‘Swiss’, and carries the Calibre number 215-1.
*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only included if the list price is paid.
The Watch Case
The heavy, high quality, Universal Swiss-made 18ct yellow gold case measures 34mm, excluding the original signed Universal winding crown. The case is sleek in design with sweeping sculpted bombé style lugs and a strong screw-down case-back. The case shape is almost a mix of the traditional round case design and the tonneau-shaped cases which were to come in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
The screw-down case-back is of full thickness and has never been engraved. The case has been cleaned, carefully inspected, and lightly hand-polished by our case-maker. The case shows no scratches, dings or other marks visible to the naked eye. The inside of the case-back is all correctly signed ‘Universal Genève’ and ‘Swiss’ with the Universal brand and with 18ct hallmarks. Externally, the case-back carries the the model reference number 10357/4 T and the case serial number 1929481 which dates this watch to 1959.
As ever, our standard advice applies: vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap and Buckle
The watch is fitted with a new black Lizard strap and gold-plated buckle. Please note, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige, free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown burgundy and black straps in stock, in plain, padded leather, alligator, crocodile or lizard skin.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating the watch to 1959.
Detailed particulars will be included with the receipt, along with our 12 months warranty*. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will also be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.
The watch also comes complete with a hardwood presentation box, as shown in the photographs.
This is a very impressive and rare vintage dress watch, ready to wear and very practical for everyday use. Universal has always had a first class reputation for the quality of their watch movements, and similar to the case of Longines, has been undervalued in the past. However, the huge rise in the interest of vintage watches in the past five years is making this disparity become more evident, resulting is a much-warranted increase in the value of Universal watches. This watch will therefore make an excellent investment or heirloom piece.
A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before we then restore them to the highest possible standards. We then offer our watches at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We, therefore consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept payment via PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would like to pay by UK cheque or by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving in transaction charges to you.
If you have any questions please call on 0207 727 7095. If calling from overseas: +44 207 727 7095.
Please note, we also welcome part exchanges.
Please take a look at our other vintage gold watches.