Tudor is a brand that is not for the faint hearted – why you ask? The simple reason is that you’ll get some of your newbie watch collector friends coming up to you with the remark “oh that’s nice – it’s basically a budget Rolex right?”(well, in all honesty I actually said that to Calum before I owned a Tudor). Those sort of comments can raise debates between Tudor lovers and some of the less informed about the brand. There is in fact validity to that statement but the story is one to be told. The essence of this article is that a lot of the time Tudor can be overlooked because of where it stands in the market as Rolex’s more affordable sibling. However, there is a lot to be told about the brand and homage to be given. So buckle up because the rest of this article is going to explain why Tudor makes great watches for any collector to wear.
The watchmaker Tudor can be traced back to 1926 when it was registered by Swiss watchmaking company “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” on behalf of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex watches. Tudor was fundamentally created to serve as a reputable Swiss watch company that produced cheaper watches than Rolex but preserved the same level of quality. The way they did this was by integrating out-sourced movements that were not modified by the factory whilst using original Rolex cases and bracelets. The movements used still provided a high degree of quality assurance, but at a lower price point than Rolex watches. It was between the 1950-60s we saw the emergence of the brand with development of their Oyster Prince models which were not far from home considering the close relation to Rolex’s release of the waterproof Oyster watches in the 1940s. Tudor Oyster Princes were included in the British scientific expedition to Greenland organised by the Royal Navy and sponsored by The Queen and Winston Churchill. Following the success of the Oyster Prince, in 1954 the Tudor Submariner 7922 launched and at that moment the brand entered the world of sports steel watches. The 7922 used a Rolex Submariner case and a caliber 390 by Fleurier therefore held a strong appeal due to its aesthetic appeal but at a fraction of a cost of the Rolex Submariner due to using a cheaper movement (and obviously not having Rolex stamped on the dial). The watch started off by being 100 meters waterproof, and by 1958 this increased to 200 meters. In the following years, the Tudor Submariner had several different iterations such as the “snowflake hands” which are sold for a considerable sum in todays vintage watch market. For many people of that era the Tudor watches gave them an opportunity to afford a high quality watch that would be of a standard on par with Rolex and have the same aesthetic appeal. For groups such as the navy in the United Kingdom Tudor’s were definitely more desirable to hand out to troops than their more expensive sibling brand. This does highlight a strong aurora of the brand being a fine Swiss made watch for the public and masses with the purpose of being a utility daily piece – watches that are at arms length in affordability and aesthetic desirability.
Tudor Submariner “Snowflake”
Today when we look at Tudor we see a traditional brand that takes an experimental approach. For example, lets take the Tudor Fastrider Blackshield into consideration. A Ducati motorcycle influenced Rolex Daytona look alike at the fraction of the cost –coming in both leather and rubber straps with the distinctive difference that 1) it uses an ETA Valjoux 7753 automatic chronograph and 2) the most distinctive difference is its complete PVD coating. The fact Tudor has done a completely PVD coated watch that looks like a Daytona exemplifies that experimental nature Tudor is taking as part of the Rolex SA family. PVD coating is a relatively new avenue for both Tudor or Rolex to ever consider. In fact, before this we only ever saw customised Bamford or Titan Watches produce PVD Daytona’s. The Fastrider Blackshield is a fun step into the world of different metals and designs.
Tudor Fastrider Blackshield
If we consider the most latest developments with the brand - this past March’s exhibition at Baselworld 2018 Tudor released the Black Bay GMT, which is a watch that had the horological world in a bit of a stir. There was finally a steel travel watch by Tudor with the infamous Rolex Pepsi Bezel. If we consider Rolex’s earlier release of the steel Pepsi GMT-Master II being reintroduced we were all excited by they fact it’s a full steel watch and Rolex gave us a break on the expensive heavy white gold version of the bezel type. However, the problem with the new Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi is everyone wants one! This has caused a several year waitlist at Rolex boutiques for the watch and some of those who got their hands on one. The Tudor Black Bay GMT provides an affordable option for collectors to get their hands on a piece of history and a similar aesthetic to the Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master II with less guilt on your hands of spending 20k USD on resale prices. The Tudor Black Bay GMT is also in high demand but at a much lower level than its Rolex counterpart so if you want one be ready to be a premium resale cost but relatively more affordable than the Rolex.
Tudor Black Bay GMT vs Rolex GMT Master-II “Pepsi”
When talking about Tudor it’s hard not to sound like a person saying everyone deserves a good Swiss watch. In essence that’s what Tudor is in a nutshell – an affordable Swiss brand that will always be produced at similar standards of Rolex and made for the masses. When I say made for the masses I don’t mean high production numbers but rather price points that are attractive to anyone. Considering Tudor is now introducing in-house timepieces at the same level of affordability it is difficult to not consider one for daily use. I do recommend everyone looking into Tudor more as it shall not disappoint.
Editor & Co-Founder