Tudor vs. Rolex: Finding the One that is Right for You
Watch industry pioneer Hans Wilsdorf is the mastermind behind both the Rolex and Tudor brands. What started as a modest watch distribution operation in London quickly grew into not one but two of the most iconic and highly coveted watch brands in the world. While Rolex and Tudor both share the same high standards and dependability backed by the Wilsdorf name, there are a few key differences that set the two brands apart.
The brand was founded in 1905 by Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law, Alfred Davis, but didn’t officially take on the name Rolex until three years later in 1908. It was then that the duo relocated from England to Switzerland and shifted from distributing watches to designing their own.
When they began to develop their own timepieces, their initial focus was on creating the most superb movements. Those efforts quickly paid off. Just two years later in 1910, Rolex made watchmaking history when they produced the first wristwatch in the world to be certified as a chronometer. That moment established Rolex as a pioneer in the industry, and in the years to follow, the brand would go on to create the first waterproof wristwatch, patent the world’s first perpetual self-winding mechanism, and introduce countless other innovations into the watch industry. To this day, the iconic Rolex crown serves as a symbol of superior quality, invention, and prestige.
Wilsdorf established Tudor in 1946 with the mission of manufacturing watches with the same integrity and principles as Rolex but at a more modest price. With the brand’s first models, he did just that. The Oyster and Oyster Prince reflected certain aspects of the Rolex style and quality for a price that was more affordable and consequently accessible to a new set of customers. Into the 1950’s, Tudor started to take on a life of its own. By 1954, the brand introduced one of its most notable models: the Oyster Prince Submariner.
In the years to follow, Tudor would continue to develop its own signature style. However, throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, Tudor, like many watch brands, was impacted by the quartz crisis. They continued with the production of mechanical watches but dialed back their designs. In 2010, the brand rebounded with the introduction of one of their most groundbreaking models: the Heritage Chronograph. Today, Tudor has become known for its minimalistic tool watches and spectacular chronographs.
How to Choose Between Tudor and Rolex Watches: The Differences
For decades, there was one key difference between Rolex and Tudor: the watch movements. Rolex exclusively uses in-house movements. This is one of their foundational brand principles. Tudor, however, uses the more affordable Swiss ETA movements, sticking with its own guiding principle of creating more accessible timepieces. However, in 2015, Tudor developed its first in-house movement, which was debuted in a model called the North Flag and later added to updated versions of the Pelagos and Heritage Black Bay models.
Still, despite Tudor’s development of their own in-house movements, the brands remain distinct in their own right. Rolex has established a reputation as one of the most well-known and sought-after watch brands in the world. This is, in part, due to steadfastly committing to a specific style—a timeless, classic, and more conservative design. On the other hand, Tudor has distinguished itself as more unique, experimental, and daring with its designs. Things like the integrated cases and bold color schemes on their dial separate them from their more classic cousin.
Bottom line: Rolex and Tudor are two of the best watch brands on the market. Whether you’re looking for a modest price point, a more avant-garde design, an iconic logo, or a certain timeless elegance, you can find a Tudor or Rolex that will serve as the perfect watch for you.