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Polarouter, Polerouter & Polerouter Date dials: a brief survey with some observations

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  1. Severin

    Severin Feb 18, 2016

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    Interpreting the world of Polerouter dials can be a daunting task for novice enthusiasts such as me. The overall challenge stems from at least five factors: (a) diversity of dial designs, (b) variety in execution, (c) limited availability of official or otherwise definitive reference materials, (d) poor survival rate of engraved serial numbers on non-bumper cases and (e) prevalence of redials, including some good ones. While these factors can add to the challenge of separating fact from fiction, they are also part of what makes Polerouter-spotting so much fun.

    To help me learn more about Polerouters, I’ve compiled a small set of sample dials which I extracted from photographs found on the internet. I present that sample set to you below for reference and hope you will find it useful. The sample set includes Polarouters, Polerouters and Polerouter Dates which, for convenience, I will collectively refer to here as “Polerouters”. It does not address other three-handed models such as Geneves, Jets, Supers, Subs, Electrics, etc. My initial focus is on Polerouter text, including shields. As such, the sample set includes all shields and text found on those Polerouter dials I was able to find online and which had some modicum of visual clarity (unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the photos on polerouer.de were far too fuzzy for me to use here) . I’ve broadly organized the samples according to movement “family”.

    With the exception of logos/shields and the words “Swiss” or “Swiss T”, each row is more or less to scale with itself. I say “more or less” because many of the donor photos were taken from angles – this means that the internal scale-relativity of each row should be taken with some degree of salt. While I’ve tried to catch only what I suspect to be “unrestored” dials (especially difficult for me in the area of bumper models), I cannot guarantee that a redial or two did not sneak its way into the mix. Another caveat: I attributed the samples to caliber family based largely on the poster’s/seller’s own caliber identification and, where available, on my own visual inspection of the movement photo. This might have introduced some error in cases where the poster mis-identified a movement which I was unable to verify – if at all an issue, I expect it would be mostly (if not entirely) between the Cal. 218 and 69 families as their dials look very similar.

    All that said, I had a lot of fun compiling the sample set below and hope you will have fun checking it out. I’ll be very interested to hear any observations you might have and look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I’ve jotted a few of my own observations for discussion. Those observations are found immediately below the sample set and apply only to the sample set at hand (i.e. I don’t claim these to be “Universal” truths).


    Sample Set:

    138 family.png 215 family.png 218 family.png 69 family.png


    Some preliminary observations for discussion:
    A. On logos/shields:
    Five or six logos/shields are evident and can be somewhat correlated to caliber (see table below):
    1. A printed SAS logo, appears on the Polarouter
    2. A carved/engraved SAS logo, also appears on the Polarouter [edit: removed term "applied", added "carved/engraved"]]
    3. The third shield/logo appears on Cal. 138/138ss models (including the Polarouter) and consists of a shield with a square-ish cut-out letter “U”. Because the U is cut-out from the shield, one can see the dial and crosshair through the shield. For this reason, I refer to this shield as a “Square, Transparent U” (“STU”).
    4. The fourth shield is still a bit of an open question as far as I am concerned: it is similar to the third shield insofar as it features a square U, but differs in that its U is opaque and perhaps the overall shield is more “bulbous”/”phat” than the previous example (which appears more flat). I refer to this as the “Square, Opaque U” (“SOU”). I am still on the fence on this one because I am not sure whether the opacity is actually due to dirt/grime/scudge. This shield appears on one Cal. 138/138ss (Polarouter) model in the sample set above (see reference #10) and can be seen on some bumpers on the polerouter.de website, including the following:
    http://www.polerouter.de/images/collection/polerouter39-big.jpg
    http://www.polerouter.de/images/collection/polerouter63-big.jpg
    http://www.polerouter.de/images/collection/polerouter33-big.jpg
    5. The fifth shield features a rounded, opaque U and I refer to it as “Round, Opaque U” (“ROU”). It can be found on 138/138ss and 215/215x models.
    6. The sixth shield is what @LouS has elsewhere called a “Pointy U”. It can be found on Cal. 215/215x, 218/218x and 69/69x models.

    [edit: the following table updated to reflect feedback below from @styggpyggeno1 ]

    Edit1.png


    B. On the term “Swiss”:
    1. The term “T Swiss T” does not appear on any of the samples.
    2. Bumper models feature the term “Swiss” (not “Swiss T”)
    3. On bumper models that have minute markers, the term “Swiss” is located below the minute markers, snug to the chapter ring.
    4. On bumper models that do not have minute markers, the term “Swiss” is located less snug to the chapter ring, approximately at or above where the minute marker or lume dot might otherwise have been.
    5. Some 215/215x models have the term “Swiss”, some do not.
    6. The term “Swiss” tends to appear on 215/215x models that have a date function. Non-date models do not have the term “Swiss”.
    7. Either of the terms “Swiss” or “Swiss T” appear on Cal. 218/218x models. In either instance, the “Swiss” or “Swiss T” is located at or above the minute marker/lume dot. There does not appear to be any correlation between date/non-date models and the presence of either “Swiss” or “Swiss T”.
    8. As above, Cal. 69/69x models all feature some version of “Swiss” or “Swiss T” and there does not appear to be any obvious correlation with date vs. non-date models.
    C. On the term “Microtor”
    1. As many of you probably already know, the term “Microtor” only appears on Cal. 215/215x models

    D. On Serifs:
    1. On all models, bumper and non-bumper, the terms “Polerouter”, “Date”, “Automatic” and “Microtor” are serifed.
    2. On non-bumper models, the words “Universal” and “Geneve” are serifed.
    3. On bumper models, the words “Universal” and “Geneve” are usually sans-serif. Again, example #10 may provide the exception: fonts on example #10 (a Polarouter) may be of a mild serif variety – I’m not sure. Example #18 is from a Polerouter bumper and may be another example of a mild serif.
    4. Serif or not, the terms “Universal” and “Geneve” generally have a “blockier” feel on bumper models than on subsequent models.
    5. The words “Polarouter” are sometimes serifed, sometimes not.

    E. On the letter “A”:
    1. The sample set reinforces the observation made by others on this forum that the Letter A is always flat-topped on Polerouter models (i.e. non-Polarouters)
    2. A peaked/pointy-topped A is found on Polarouters, and only in the word “Polarouter”
    3. I’m not sure whether this is real or not, but it appears than not all Polarouters feature a pointy-topped “A” in the word Polarouter: example #3 is a Polarouter and it features a flat-topped letter “A” in the word Polarouter.
    F. On the accent grave:
    1. The sample set echoes the observation I’ve made previously on this Forum that some dials have an accent grave over the “E” in the word “Genève” while others do not. The presence or absence of the accent grave does not appear to be correlated with movement caliber in the Cal. 69, 218 and Polerouter 138 families.
    2. It appears, however, as if the accent grave does not appear on any of the Polarouters in the sample set
    3. It also appears that the accent grave is present on all Cal. 215/215x dials in the sample set. This is generally in line with what I have found previously, with one exception: I had previously though I spotted one Cal. 215x model without an accent grave: my eyes may or may not have fooled me (check it out and let me know what you think:http://s431.photobucket.com/user/Frans1953/media/Pole router/Polerouter215front.jpg.html)

    G. On execution variety:
    1. Letters found on Polarouter/Polerouter dials come in a range of variants. For instance, as shown in the figure below
    a. The letter “S” can be bent/articulated like a pipe or rounded
    b. The top of the letter “T” can slope like a tilda or be straight
    c. The vertical line in the letter “T” can be centered relative to the horizontal line, or off-centered
    d. The middle horizontal line in the letter “E” can be vertically closer to the middle of the letter’s height or closer to the top
    e. The letter “C” can be nearly closed or fairly wide open
    f. The type can be angled more sharply (i.e. closer to 60 degrees) or less sharply (i.e. closer to 70/75 degrees)
    I’m splitting hairs at this point, but the list does go on...

    Examples of execution variability.png


    In closing, I hope you will find the above sample set of some interest and I thank you for listening. I look forward to hearing from you – whether to confirm some of the above observations, to challenge or debunk them, to offer new observations, to identify future areas for focus, etc.
    This work is largely inspired by the amazing discussions I’ve read on this forum, including a variety of “typology”-type entries such as on Polerouter Subs, Polerouter cross-hairs, UG shields, UG Chronographs, Longines, Majetek and others. I’ve found these and other Forum discussions highly informative and a lot of fun – thank you all.
     
    Edited Apr 24, 2017
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  2. styggpyggeno1

    styggpyggeno1 ΩF Enforcer ....and thread killer Feb 18, 2016

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    Wonderful work!

    I will try to get you a better picture for the first "SAS" Polarouter. You have namned them "applied SAS logo" - which for me sounds like they are applied on to the dial (but English is not my first language). They are in fact carved into the dial by hand.

    [​IMG]
     
    Edited Feb 18, 2016
    klugt1990, llvhhui, raison_ and 11 others like this.
  3. Northernman

    Northernman Feb 18, 2016

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    A very comprehensive work. Thanks for sharing. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    It's these contributions to the forum that makes it such a great place to hang out!
    I am ever thankful.
     
  4. sliceoftime_

    sliceoftime_ Feb 18, 2016

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    Absolutely wonderful work, thanks for the analysis and information. You're really starting to work everyone's appetite for Polerouters! ;)
     
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  5. Severin

    Severin Feb 18, 2016

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    Fantastic - thank you! I had no idea. Just goes to show the value of hands-on experience. I myself have never actually seen a UG bumper in-person, let alone a Polarouter! Thanks again - I will revise the note above as soon to as I have the chance.


    Oh no! ;)

    Thanks again, all.
     
  6. LouS

    LouS Mrs Nataf's Other Son Staff Member Feb 18, 2016

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    I'm saving this for the weekend. Crack open the box of Polerouters, a loupe and bottle of something...should make for a very enjoyable afternoon
     
    Vitezi and aap like this.
  7. khmt2

    khmt2 Feb 18, 2016

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    Great effort @Severin! Can Mods sticky this?

    Here's the dial from my 215-1 date should u need more samples for your analysis

    IMG_2170.JPG
     
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  8. styggpyggeno1

    styggpyggeno1 ΩF Enforcer ....and thread killer Feb 19, 2016

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    Cal 69, 18k rose.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    SWISS MADE T, cal 69-1. Can not see any "MADE" in your pics. The U-logo in a square box.

    [​IMG]
     
    Edited Feb 19, 2016
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  9. jds1017

    jds1017 Feb 19, 2016

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    Great work! Thanks
     
  10. apan

    apan Oops, I forgot the "J" when I registered.... Feb 19, 2016

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    Thank you for your scholarly work! The nuances are fascinating
     
  11. Gatsby

    Gatsby Feb 20, 2016

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    What a FANTASTIC post - thanks so much for sharing !!!!!!
     
  12. Severin

    Severin Feb 20, 2016

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    Thanks very much to you and others for the additional samples - boy, the plot does get thicker quickly, doesn't it?! It's clear that several/many more installments will be necessary to account for the other models, including those with the Boxed-U logo in your sample above. By the way, do you have a sense of when that logo was first introduced?

    Also, has anyone ever seen the term "Swiss Made" on any pieces having any of the shields found in my post above ? There are none in the above sample set, but now that you mention it, I did see one (and only one) in the course of my research (on a bumper) but perhaps erroneously discounted it as a non-factory detail. I'll be on standby to hear from you. In the meantime, it's clear this will be a living/ongoing process of evidence collection, interpretation, verification and - where necessary - revision. Thanks again to you all for sharing your observations.

    A few other areas not addressed at all above, but which I have some interest in, include some typology/variant analysis of how crosshairs can relate to text (we've seen in LouS' analysis how they relate to shields) as well as a basic survey of markers.

    As an aside, another area I would be interested in - but am reluctant to get into publicly - is an analysis of good (i.e. almost convincing) redials: I have found some that might almost fool a somewhat more-than-casual observer save for one or two fatal flaws. My reluctance to go there stems from not wanting to give the redialers any more ammunition...

    All the best until next time - I appreciate your input very much.
     
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  13. Jonatan

    Jonatan Mar 1, 2016

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    Excellent and educational work. Thank you!
     
  14. Severin

    Severin Mar 25, 2016

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    Calling all eyes:
    This example confounds me and makes me wonder if i've missed something. It is ostensibly a 138ss, but I cannot see "Swiss" anywhere, including in other angles i've seen of the same piece. By my way of thinking, it should be somewhere beneath the minute markers. Has anyone seen a 138ss dial without the word "Swiss"?

    Thank you in advance for any reconnaissance you might offer.

    12725215_912615025523587_730147491_n(1)_edit_edit.jpg
     
    watch3s likes this.
  15. Tony C.

    Tony C. Ωf Jury member Mar 25, 2016

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    In the absence of other question marks, I would never assume that any vintage watch without "SWISS" is not original.
     
  16. Severin

    Severin Mar 25, 2016

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    I take your overall point. In the specific context of the Polerouter 138, however, I raise the question since all other 138's I've seen (including those at the top of this thread) do indeed contain the word Swiss.

    You proposed a principle some time ago in another thread that I've kept near and dear to me: something to the effect of "just because you can't explain it, doesn't mean it's not real". This may be one of those cases.

    I'm still interested to see if others have examples like the one above.

    Since you asked about other question marks, the lume dots are a bit skewed relative to hour markers on this one, but not enough to raise a red flag for me (could simply be a skewed chapter ring placement during a service).
     
  17. Tony C.

    Tony C. Ωf Jury member Mar 26, 2016

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    I understand, and you are far more familiar with the model than I. But I have seen too many anomalous, non-SWISS examples across many brand and model lines, to consider it a meaningful red flag if everything else checks out.
     
  18. Severin

    Severin Mar 26, 2016

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    Thank you, @Tony C: your perspective is sagacious and diverse - I appreciate it very much and am the better for it. My own is barely nascent and so narrow that I sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees.
    Thanks again!
     
  19. Tony C.

    Tony C. Ωf Jury member Mar 26, 2016

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    My pleasure, @Severin and thank you for you efforts in producing such a fine and interesting model resource!
     
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  20. Severin

    Severin May 22, 2016

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    ...Nothing fancy here, just had a few minutes of downtime and I thought I’d look into an interesting observation made previously by @guillaumeabxl – that some Polarouters have narrow chapter ring markers, while others have wider chapter ring markers. This led me to wonder whether the width of a Polerouter chapter ring could be predicted by serial number.

    To check it out, I put together a handful of examples I was able to find quickly and in which the serial number was either identified by the owner and/or a caseback pic was available. I’ve summarized these few examples in the figure below, most of which were taken from various OF threads. I excluded De Luxe models.

    Not much insight to be told based on the look so far, but the brief compendium below does suggest that serial number is not likely a good predictor or narrow vs wide chapter ring markers; there is overlap (for example, both narrow and wide variants are found with serial numbers beginning with 164).

    The sample set below is clearly incomplete: perhaps as you encounter some Polarouters in your searches and are able/willing to share serial numbers (at least the first few digits), please feel free to bring them to our attention here. Over time, we can fill in the gaps and perhaps a more obvious pattern will emerge. Thank you and all the best.

    Severin Polarouter Wide Narrow Chptr rng mrkrs.png
     
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