For decades Tudor has stood in the shadow of its big sister, Rolex. With the relaunch of the brand and the release of its Heritage line, the little sister has found itself firmly in the spotlight of the horological world. The rebirth of Tudor Heritage is perhaps best representative of what Tudor does best – incredible, forward-thinking design. Today, Tudor is enjoying a surge in popularity for both its current collection, as well as vintage models.
Tudor: The cheaper version of a Rolex?
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf registered Tudor in 1926, just 20 years after the founding of Rolex. Wilsdorf’s intention for Tudor was to create a compelling and interesting product that needed to be as a robust as a Rolex watch, whilst representing a more attainable option. Until the turn of the century, Tudor produced a range of watches that differed little from the Rolex brand, with the cases and the bracelets that Tudor used being all but identical to their Rolex counterparts. Some watches were only distinguishable by the company logo – among other things the Tudor Submariner, which was identical to the Rolex Submariner, the only difference being was ETA providing the movements for Tudor as opposed to Rolex-crafted movements.
The Heritage series marks the turning point
Since the rebirth of Tudor in the early 2000’s their watches had failed to set the horological world alight. But, that all changed in 2010 when Tudor launched the Heritage Chronograph: a watch that bore the unmistakable markers of the Rolex DNA, the distinctive, unique style with a design that harked back to their shared illustrious history, Tudor Heritage proved to be an instant success. When Tudor introduced the Black Bay at the Baselworld 2012, it finally established itself as an independent watchmaker.
Meanwhile, vintage models are now much sought-after commodities: While old Tudor models used to be a cheap alternative to vintage Rolex watches, collectors now specifically buy Tudor, which is why the prices – along with the demand – have been strong in recent years. In the spring of 2017, an early and extremely rare Tudor Submariner (Ref 7923) was sold at auction and set an auction record when it sold for $350,000 US.
Tudor Black Bay
The Tudor Black Bay undoubtedly represents the pinnacle of their recent success. Launched in 2012, it quickly established itself as the Swiss brand’s most popular and well-known model. What many don’t know is that The Black Bay is a tribute to the Rolex Submariner, but at the same time, Tudor succeeded in giving the Black Bay characteristic design that is completely independent. The detailing is particularly beautiful as well as the polished bevels of the case, the stainless steel bracelet with rivets or the domed crystal glass – all reminiscent of classic vintage timepieces. In 2016, Tudor announced its first in-house movement would be available in the Black Bay, thereby marking another milestone in its rich history.
The Tudor Pelagos should come high on the list of anyone considering purchasing a tool watch. The 42mm diving watch was developed with the intention of ensuring the greatest possible uncompromising functionality. The titanium housing has a lighter weight combined with greater robustness, water resistance to a depth of up to 500 meters. It is suitable for professional use and professional divers alike. A special highlight is ‘the diving cap’: this was specially developed by Tudor and with a spring mechanism that ensures that the buckle contracts by itself as the diving suit compresses and narrows as it descends and then widens again.
The Tudor Submariner was in production from 1954 until 1999, the first model appearing only a few months after the first Rolex Submariners. The Tudor Submariner opted for the long-lasting, reliable ETA movements as a more cost-effective yet equally robust counterpart to Rolex in-house movements. The appeal of the Tudor Submariner is not only one of historical authentic design, but also features a diversity that has always been more apparent with Tudor than Rolex. The Tudor Submariner came in varying sizes and was also available with a blue dial, as well as a ‘snowflake’ hand. For those looking to buy a Tudor Submariner, the good models are rare and much sought after, which is why any that come up on the pre-owned market are often snapped up very quickly.
The Tudor Grantour is a motorsport-inspired chronograph. Launched in 2011, the Grantour is an impressive addition to the Tudor range, with its fine mechanical complication: the ‘Flyback’ that sets it apart from other chronographs. This function can simultaneously complete the current time measurement and start a new one at the same time. On a normal chronograph, when the chrono is started, it must be stopped and reset before starting off again. In addition, the Tudor Grantour unites the classic Rolex DNA with the harmonious Tudor design of the Heritage range.
Tudor North Flag
The combination of stainless steel and ceramic paired with the exhibition caseback, has created a sporty, yet discrete line of watches. The North Flag is the modern rendition of a legendary Tudor model, which was equipped with the British Greenland expedition in 1952. The sparse yellow accents give this luxury watch a certain kick to it. Furthermore, the 40mm stainless steel case with a satin finish provides a matte, noble design.