Book Review: ‘The Polerouter’, a Universal Genève Odyssey

Exploring elegance and Gérald Genta's brilliance in a captivating book.

The Polerouter. By Andrew Willis and Mattia Mazzucchi. Time Honoured Ltd. £225.

A timepiece intertwined with the allure of pioneering trans-polar flights flown by Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), the Universal Genève Polerouter is a symbol of 1950s glamour and adventure. Ardent Polerouter enthusiasts Andrew Willis and Mattia Mazzucchi embarked on a collaborative journey four years ago on comprehensive book dedicated to the iconic watch, aptly titled The Polerouter.

The book delves into the fascinating world of the Polerouter, a timepiece fondly regarded by many in the world of vintage watches. This is demonstrated in the forewords written by individuals like John Goldberger, author and collector; Virginie Liatard-Roessli, watch specialist at Phillips; and Alessandro Fanciulli, a well-known social media figure and dealer better known as “Mr A”.  The authors themselves, however, are scholars but amateurs – Mr Willis is a mathematician while Mr Mazzucchi is a nautical interior designer.

The narrative unfolds across various chapters, each dedicated to a specific model, highlighting key milestones in the Polerouter’s evolution. Across almost 400 pages, the authors meticulously document each model’s distinct characteristics, from the SAS Polarouter to the Polerouter Sub. The information unfolds chronologically, beginning with the SAS Polarouter and systematically exploring each Polerouter model.

Notably, the book intentionally omits esoteric models such as the Polerouter Electric, Polerouter Compact and Polerouter III, instead focusing solely on bumper and microtor models, which the authors consider as the epitome of the model.

The reason for that is simple: a significant aspect of the Polerouter’s legacy lies in its microtor movement, a horological milestone that reflects technical advancements. The calibre was one of the earliest microtor automatic movements and an engineering achievement in its day.

The authors meticulously curated a collection of images showcasing the finest examples of Polerouter timepieces. These images capture the evolution of the design, from the elegant De Luxe to the robust Polerouter Sub designed for outdoor enthusiasts. The visual journey underscores how changing tastes, technical innovations, and diverse models have shaped the Polerouter’s identity over time.

Crucially, the author’s unique access to Universal Genève’s archives allowed the inclusion of previously unseen material, such as technical drawings, catalogues, and production records. This archival content provides a deeper understanding of the Polerouter’s history, making the book an invaluable resource for enthusiasts and collectors alike.

The authors’ research also reveals the enduring significance of SAS in the Polerouter’s story. The relationship with SAS persisted for a decade beyond the initial polar flights in 1954, and advertisements continued to feature polar flights for years.

While the book features over 120 watches in photographs, the authors acknowledge that it only scratches the surface of the myriad of Polerouter references. The intricacies and variations between models are acknowledged, but the volume’s scope prevents an exhaustive exploration of every detail.

One of the intriguing mysteries unsolved in the book is Gerald Genta’s involvement in the design of the Polerouter, something that has long been mentioned but never verified. Despite the authors’ best efforts, the precise details of his role remain elusive, leading to speculation and debate among collectors that this book will not resolve unfortunately.

In conclusion, the Polerouter book serves as a captivating exploration of a horological gem rich in history and design. With contributions from industry experts and access to exclusive archives, the authors introduce the Polerouter to a new audience while providing seasoned collectors with fresh insights into its fascinating journey through time.

The book measures 305 cm by 280 cm by 40 mm and retails for £225. It is hardbound without a dust jacket.

The book can be ordered at


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.