There are few amazing pieces as under-appreciated (and well priced) as the Universal Genève Polerouter Jet. Finally after years in the under-rated pile of vintage watches, it is getting its time in the spotlight. As a fan of innovators and clever engineering feats, this watch was impossible to pass up on when it crossed my path. The flawless and rare dial combined with my desire to work on one of these movements made this restore a fantastic experience.
Universal Genève filed their patent for the Microtor in 1955. While they are certainly the most cited for the pioneering of this type of movement, the real credit actually belongs to the Buren Company (which made the movement that powers some of the Hamilton Thinline series and Bulova Ambassadors, among others) who filed their patent just a year before UG. As a result they were the winners of a patent infringement case that followed. While Buren may have won the innovation race by almost a year, Universal Genève it would seem was taking their time to not only perfect the mechanics, but also the aesthetics of their movement. The iteration they put out was impeccably finished (fittingly with Geneva Stripes) and is absolutely beautiful mechanically and visually.
The original purpose of the smaller rotor set into the movement is that it saves big on the total thickness of an automatic watch. A quick Google of the world’s thinnest automatic watch will bring up the Piaget Altiplano that unsurprisingly utilizes the Microtor technology. A secondary benefit utilized by the finest of watchmakers (such as Patek Philippe, A. Lange and Sohne, and others) is that minimizing the space needed for the automatic rotor increases the room available for complications as well as the display-ability of the movement through a sapphire back. Usually a rotor will eat up about 30-50% of the viewing space at a time but the Microtor requires much less and usually allows for an unobstructed view of the hairspring and the other mechanics.
I got this watch in running condition but in need of a full service. The balance was sluggish and under the microscope it was easy to see why. Sometimes oil just migrates and dries up but sometimes it collects dirt and becomes extra viscous or dries up, creating resistance where it is supposed to be there for the opposite reason. Oil had caked up in the balance jewels and was prohibiting free movement of the balance. A thorough cleaning and oiling took care of the problem and after a slight regulation the watch was running beautifully.
On the wrist this watch is fantastic. It expectedly wears very lightly. The smaller profile comes out on the wrist. The brushed dial is different from the typical iterations of this watch and the rose gold markers and hands it gives the piece an added elegance.
All together, this is a wonderful vintage piece that showcases innovation, timeless styling, and easily one of my favorite movements to work on. If you are a stickler for slim watches but want an automatic, you can’t go wrong with one of these vintage beauties.