The story of Universal Geneve – Polerouter

Official Pilot watch

On 1st of august 1947 three Scandinavian airlines (Norwegian, Swedish & Danish) merged to formed a new airline alliance and named it Overseas Scandinavian Airlines System aka. OSAS. The named of the airline company was later changed to Scandinavian Airlines System aka. SAS – a fact, which have no further importance to the story you are about the read as the topic of this chapter tunes in on the impact SAS  had on the entire airline industry at that time and why a special watch was needed for a new SAS’s ventures in the early 1950ies

SAS originalt logo kopi

The newly formed company SAS would be the first airline to make a flight crossing the North pole and did so in an DC-6B by flying from Long Beach CA via Thule Greenland heading for Copenhagen Denmark. The trip took place the 19th of November 1952 and was a trip which was to make DC-6B as well as SAS legends.

Proving it possible to cross the polar circle in 1952 SAS’ next step in business became obvious. Therefor SAS’s DC-6B chief pilot Mikal Aschim took of from Olso Norway the 23th of November 1953 to make the first commercial flight round-the-world with stops in Thule Greenland Alaska Canada, Tokyo japan, Manila Philippines, Bangkok Thailand, Karachi Pakistan, Beirut Lebanon, Rome Italy, Frankfurt Germany, Copenhagen Denmark before returning to Oslo Norway on May 29, 1953.

Universal Polerouter - round the world 001

This specific trip separated the airline industries sheep from goats. As SAS in 1954 took a leading position as the company on 15th November 1954 with their newly achieved experience became the first airline with a scheduled flight route using the Polar circle as shortcut to get round the world.

Universal Polerouter - sas 002 - fly

The first flight, on November 15th, 1954, in the DC-6B – Royal Viking – carried passengers including the three Prime Ministers of the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) and was the first commercial flight to take the transpolar route.

Though there was one thing which was to become a problem to SAS – timekeeping. To succeed their mission SAS had to be able to stick with their timetable upon arrival and departing from airports. In the earlier years where SAS did not use the North Pole as a shortcut to new destinations – being on time hadn’t been considered a problem for SAS or any other airline company. Though the trade off by using the North Pole shortcut is that there is a strong magnetic field, which have a huge influence of a watch’s ability to keep time to perfection. To deal with the problem SAS turned to the watch manufacture Universal Genève, whom in 1954 provided the crews with automatic precision wristwatches, which could resistant the strong magnetic fields existing on North Pole. The watches became the official chronometers worn by SAS crew and pilots and became SAS keep to success with their new flight destinations.

Universal polerouter SAS Piloter

The first series of these watches, with SAS logos on the face, were awarded to the SAS-crew upon landing at LAX November 16th 1954.

SASs service between Copenhagen and Los Angeles using their Royal Viking polar flights rapidly expanded to include a series of destinations round the world. On every single route SAS reduced the transportation time when connecting people & cities worldwide and was therefore proclaimed as “the first new route to Europe in a thousand years.”


Polerouter SAS poster Collage 001

According to SAS in a 1954 advertisement: “Royal Viking” passengers cruise in regal comfort over Canada and Greenland, dine on continental cuisine with vintage wines…with first class luxury all the way.”

The early Polerouter were constructed to cope with drastic climactic changes, and was therefore designed to be resistant to shocks, corrosion, water and magnetic fields which came in useful when an crossing the North Pole. The watch was  soon to be the official SAS Pilots watch due to its durability under extreme temperatures and fluctuating altitudes.

The early Polerouter / Polarouter

The most well known watch made by Universal is without a doubt the Polerouter from the post-war era. Gérald Genta designed the Polerouter at the age of 23. The watch was originally produced under the name Polarouter in 1954, where it appeared with a Cal 138SS Bumper movement.


Universal Cal 138SS

Universal Geneve Cal. 138SS


In 1955 the model was still called Polarouter but have had the movement replaced with a new and innovative Cal 215 microtor movement. In 1958 the name Polarouter changed to Polerouter and was produced until late 1969.

Unirversal polerouter cal 215 -


Universal Geneve Polerouter available at WristChronology

At WristChronology we mainly aim to present our readers as well as customers to the more rare, more limited and more attached to history kind of watches. Therefor we have done our best to make it possible to get access to watches, which wasn’t made as a product due to the development of the watch history but watches that took an active part in the becoming of the actual watch industry.


Universal-Polerouter-WristChronology - vintage ure-vintage


We therefore proudly present this specific Universal Geneve Polerouter, which is an outstanding watch as it was produced and equipped with the very first microtor movement (caliber 215) for a Polerouter. Furthermore the watch was among the very first produced Polerouter’ ever made as the caliber is signed “Patented Rights Pending”. The patent for the technical design was applied for on 27th May 1955 and registered on 15th May 1958 where as Polerouter’ manufactured later than May 1958 was given the Patent number #329805.  –  If you want to know more about the Poulerouter models available in our store then click right.


An introduction the to history of Universal Geneve


Universal geenve -



Universal Genève was founded in 1894 and until less than haft a century ago the company was one of the most respected high-end watch brands the world had ever seen. Since its early beginnings, the company had been known for producing complete watches with in-house movements and for its style of combining craftsmanship, passion and knowledge into watches of perfection. In 1917 the company even made an historical claim when creating the first Chronographic wristwatch ever. – though till this date the most well known watch made by Universal is without a doubt the Polerouter…


Universal polerouter SAS


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