Tudor Watches: The Beginning
In 1946, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf started Montres Tudor SA. It was a new wristwatch brand with a specific purpose: to manufacture watches to the same high-quality level as parent brand Rolex. However, Tudor watches would come at more modest, affordable prices.
Throughout the late 1940s and 50s, Tudor grew into one of the Swiss watchmaking world’s most well-known brands. Its first models, the Oyster and Oyster Prince, blended Rolex style and build quality with a more market-friendly retail price, attracting a wide audience of customers.
In 1954, Tudor released one of its most iconic models — the Oyster Prince Submariner. The first Oyster Prince Submariner came in the wake of Rolex’s 6204 Submariner and shared many of its features, from its screw-down back to its crown, which even included the Rolex logo.
Although some may think of the brand as Rolex’s little brother, Tudor has a history of use in military and sporting contexts. Throughout the 20th century, France’s Marine Nationale issued Tudor watches–specifically, the 7922 model Tudor Submariner–to its members. The Marine Nationale even assisted in testing and developing Tudor’s iconic dive tool watch. Other military organizations, such as the Jamaican Defense Force, Canadian Navy, and United States Navy chose the Tudor Submariner as their go-to watch, largely because of its outstanding durability and build quality.
Generally, Tudor is known for its experimental designs. They have experimented with unique integrated cases, colorful dial chronographs, and “Montecarlo”-inspired color schemes. Whereas Rolex is famous for its extremely conservative design sense.
Today, Tudor’s lineup mixes minimalistic tool watches and eye-catching chronographs. Below, we’ve profiled five of Tudor’s most popular modern models: the Black Bay, Black Shield, Ranger and Pelagos.
Tudor Black Bay
Introduced in 2012, the Black Bay is a stylish, highly functional dive watch inspired by Tudor watches of the 1950s. The Black Bay, which measures 41mm and is waterproof to 200m, draws its inspiration from several of Tudor’s iconic 1950s Submariner dive watches.
The first source of inspiration is the original Tudor 7922 Submariner, which was first released in 1954. The second is the iconic 1967 Submariner 7021, known as the “Snowflake Submariner”— the obvious inspiration for the Black Bay’s hour hand.
The Black Bay’s dial is equal parts functional and elegant. The hands and lume plots are made out of pink gold and the unidirectional rotating bezel is made from steel. The dish comes in a choice of matte blue, matte black, or burgundy anodised aluminium. Its domed, sapphire crystal gives it a unique and eye-catching appearance. Although it’s a dive watch from top to bottom, the Black Bay is available with either a steel “rivet” bracelet or vintage leather strap.
With its vintage-inspired styling and excellent build quality, the Black Bay is everything you could want in a dive watch at an extremely reasonable price point.
Tudor Fastrider Black Shield
Unlike the Black Bay, which draws inspiration from Tudor’s vintage dive watches, the Fastrider Black Shield is undeniably modern.
The Black Shield is part of a partnership between Tudor and Ducati, dating back to 2011. Inspired by the Ducati XDiavel, the Fastrider Black Shield is a bold watch that stands out as one of Tudor’s most creative models in recent years.
With its matte black dial, bezel, and ceramic monobloc case, the Fastrider Black Shield is as black as a wristwatch can possibly get. Dial accents aside, the Black Shield is an almost completely dark watch. Turn out the lights, however, and the Black Shield shows a different side. It has partially skeletonized hands with luminous tips. Luminous paint also appears on the three chronograph subdials. So, this makes the Black Shield brighter at night than it is during the daytime.
At 42mm, the Black Shield is a midsized chronograph. The ceramic case features a bead-blasted finish, giving it a stylish matte appearance. A Valjoux 7753 movement powers the Black Shield.
Still, the Black Shield is a tactical watch that brings Tudor’s sense of style very much into the modern day. With its black leather strap, it’s an eye-catching casual watch with a design that’s sure to attract plenty of attention.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
Released in 2014, the Tudor Heritage Ranger is a minimalist, function-over-form tool watch that closely resembled the Oyster Prince Ranger of the 1960s. The modern Ranger boasts a simple, Explorer-inspired dial that makes it stand out as a classic tool watch.
At 41mm, the Ranger’s stainless steel case is larger than most vintage tool watches, giving it serious presence on the wrist. Add a stainless steel bracelet without end links and its size stands out even more.
The Ranger features an in-house TUDOR calibre 2824 movement with a total power reserve of approximately 38 hours. It’s waterproof to 150 meters, undoubtedly adding to its appeal as an all-around sports watch.
The Ranger is a watch that combines vintage style with the feel of a modern tool watch. If you like the minimalist, military-inspired look, you’ll find a lot to like in the Ranger.
As Tudor’s deepest dive watch, the Pelagos is an impressive dive watch capable of descending to 500 meters below sea level.
Tudor first released the Pelagos in 2012. With its unquestionably modern styling and 42mm titanium case, the Pelagos immediately attracted attention from dive and tool watch enthusiasts. Three things stand out about the Pelagos: the square hour markers, the date window (free of a cyclops), and the blue or black finish. The Pelagos also has Tudor’s iconic “snowflake” hour hand, adding to its modern-meets-vintage look.
The Pelagos is a technologically sophisticated watch. Its MT5621 automatic movement exceeds COSC Chronometer standards and has a 70-hour power reserve. It also is waterproof and has a modern style.
Add its modest weight into the equation and the Pelagos stands out as the ideal dive watch for everyday use. It has a brushed titanium case instead of polished. So, this keeps it largely unaffected by scratches and long-term wear.
Tudor may not have the brand recognition of Rolex. However, this iconic brand is far from being a less expensive imitator. From its 1960s military dive watches to its current range of vintage-inspired products, Tudor is an impressive brand with its own distinct identity.
Learn more about how Tudor and Rolex stack up with each other.