It’s impossible to mention TUDOR watches without also mentioning its famous older sibling, Rolex. Both brands were founded by the legendary watchmaker and businessman Hans Wilsdorf, and are known for their focus on quality, craftsmanship and impeccable style.
When creating TUDOR, Wilsdorf’s vision was clear:
“For some years now, I have been considering the idea of making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches, and yet one that would attain the dependability for which Rolex is famous. I decided to form a separate company, with the object of making and marketing a new watch. It is called the Tudor Watch company.”Hans Wilsdorf
TUDOR’s commitment to producing a more affordable but still highly reliable watches led to the brand becoming the go-to for a number of armies, navies, and expedition teams across the world. These links helped to shape the brand’s style and paved the way for technical experimentation and advancements. Today the brand is especially well known for its tool watches, and outstanding build quality across the entire collection.
In recent years TUDOR has secured high-profile celebrity ambassadors, including David Beckham, Lady Gaga, and All Blacks rugby star Beauden Barrett.
In this guide to TUDOR, we’ll explore the brand’s history, and take a closer look at some of its most iconic pieces.
The Story Of TUDOR
In February 1926, the house of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther”, a watch dealer and maker, registered the trademark “The TUDOR” for Hans Wilsdorf, who had set up Rolex 21 years prior. Established in Geneva, he acquired the exclusive usage rights from the dealer.
On 15 October 1936, the house of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” transferred the brand “The TUDOR” to Hans Wilsdorf. In this same period, the rose of the TUDOR dynasty appeared on the dials. Inscribed within a shield, this logo symbolised the invincible union of strength – the watch’s robustness – with grace – the beauty of its lines. Wilsdorf would go on to take it over in 1936, but it wasn’t until 1946 that he officially founded the company Montres Tudor SA.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s TUDOR would grow to become one of the most recognisable brands within the Swiss watchmaking industry. This was in part down to the creation of a number of iconic models during this era, including the Oyster and Oyster Prince. These models made use of the water-resistant ‘Oyster’ case that was previously exclusive to Rolex, and the Prince also included a Rolex designed Perpetual ‘rotor’ self-winding mechanism. 26 of the Oyster Prince models were taken on the 1952 British scientific expedition to Greenland, thanks to their hardiness and reliability.
TUDOR’s adoption of the ‘Oyster’ cases paved the way for the brand to begin producing tool watches – something for which they have become highly regarded over the years. Tool watches are timepieces that have been specially designed to complete specific tasks.
The brand made its first move into the world of dive watches with the Oyster Prince Submariner reference 7922 in 1954. The timepiece was originally water-resistant up to 100m, and after numerous versions it reached depths of 200m with reference 7924 in 1958. Tudor’s Submariners were so highly regarded that France’s Marine Nationale issued them to its members in the 1960s, until the line was discontinued in the 1980s. A number of Tudor’s most recognisable and striking design details can be traced back to the iconic Submariner line, including the oversized crown and ‘snowflake’ hands.
Originally, TUDOR watches were created using off-the-shelf movements that were housed inside Rolex-quality cases. However, over time the brand began to move away from the traditional stylings of Rolex and started to carve out its own unique vision for its timepieces. Whilst Rolex is known for its conservative and timeless look, as the more accessible brand TUDOR was free to be more experimental and playful in its designs. Modern styles such as the sporty North Flag and Heritage Chrono, or the exceptionally feminine Clair de Rose, helped to define TUDOR’s unique style and set it apart.
In 2015 TUDOR created its first in-house movement. A high-performance Calibre of excellent precision and proven robustness, it offers a 70-hour power reserve meaning that its wearer can, for example, take off the watch on Friday evening and put it on again on Monday morning without having to wind it. Beating to a frequency of 28,800 beats/hour or 4Hz, the movement is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with silicon balance spring, held in place by a traversing bridge – a guarantee of its robustness. Furthermore, the movement is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
Collections Of TUDOR
The Black Bay, released in 2012 has become one of the brands most popular collections. Its domed dial and crystal, and oversized crown pay homage to some of the very first TUDOR diver watches and make it instantly recognisable.
Based on an original TUDOR Submariner, the Black Bay put a modern twist on this vintage style with its robust casing, heavy bezel and the signature ‘snowflake’ hands. It was an instant success helping to elevate the brand’s image for the modern era.
In 2015, the Black Bay became the first of TUDOR’s watches to make use of the brand’s first in-house Manufacture Calibre.
TUDOR’s diver watch, the Pelagos, features the brand’s greatest depth-rating and most advanced materials. Unlike the vintage-inspired Black Bay, the Pelagos has a cleaner and more contemporary look, and comes in only two colourways – matte blue and black. TUDOR’s signature ‘snowflake’ hands are also present, which allow the wearer to distinguish between the hour and minute hands at a glance.
With water resistance of up to 500m, a helium escape valve, and luminous markers, this is a timepiece well equipped for all diving conditions. The Pelagos also features a number of firsts for the brand. The unique titanium bracelet featuring a steel folding clasp makes this timepiece incredibly lightweight, and it also features a Tudor-patented auto-adjust spring mechanism. This mechanism allows the bracelet to be adjusted during the dive, automatically contracting at greater depths and expanding as the diver returns to the surface. An additional rubber strap is also provided and equipped with an extension system to adjust in diving conditions easily.
TUDOR also released a version of the Pelagos for left-handed divers, called LHD (Left Hand Drive) that features a winding stem positioned to the left of the case, so that the watch can be worn on the right wrist. In a nod to its past, the TUDOR Pelagos evokes the brand’s history of dive watches designed specifically for left-handed professional divers. During the 1970s, the French Navy commissioned bespoke models for its left-handed divers.
The most recent Pelagos iterations now also include a TUDOR Manufacture Calibre movement and a Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) certification.
In tribute to the brand’s early history, the 1926 was named for the year that TUDOR was created. The collection celebrates the timeless and elegant stylings of the first TUDOR watches and features vintage touches such as the domed crystal, delicate numbering, and elegant sword-shaped hands. The criss-crossed embossed texture of the dial on 1926 watches set them apart from other TUDOR designs and further enhance the vintage aesthetic.
Available exclusively in stainless steel, with optional pink gold detailing, the 1926 is a sophisticated piece that truly reflects the spirit and history of the brand. Complemented by an elegant 7-link bracelet that closely follows the curve of the wrist, it is available in 4 sizes, with a wide choice of dials that effortlessly cater to both men and women.
Clair de Rose
As TUDOR’s most feminine style, the Clair de Rose is a perfect example of the brand’s ability to produce beautiful and refined ladies watches. Introduced in 2017, the collection draws on this heritage and takes its design cues from styles such as the Princess, Royal, Glamour, and Miss TUDOR.
Staying true to the brand’s philosophy, the Clair de Rose is available exclusively in steel and with mechanical movements. Featuring a feminine ‘rice grain’ link bracelet and opaline dials decorated with delicate Roman numerals in blue lacquer, these timepieces are wonderfully feminine and sophisticated. The precious cabochon-embellished winding crown is one of the style’s most striking features, and acts as a beautiful complement to the blue accents of the dial and hands.
Despite its delicate looks, the style features a robust case and is water-resistant to up to 100m.
Our Buyer’s Highlights
TUDOR Black Bay GMT $4,050.00
TUDOR Black Bay GMT £3,040.00
“First released in 2018, the Black Bay GMT took the world by storm and it was the biggest and most talked about launch that year for Tudor. Still incredibly popular and sitting comfortably in our best sellers, the timepiece has strong proportions and a design that still has firm roots within the Black Bay Family. The GMT function is the eye-catching conversation starter thanks to the blue and red colour scheme that immediately shows whether it is day or night in your selected time zone.” Faye Soteri, Senior International Watch Buyer
TUDOR Pelagos LHD $4,575.00
TUDOR Pelagos LHD £3,440.00
“The Pelagos LHD standing for ‘Left Hand Drive’, is a magnificent tool watch combined with the symbol of adventure and is one of the most traditional mechanical divers’ watches available today. Evoking the history of dive watches that were designed specifically for left-handed divers in the French Navy, this version will sit comfortably in any modern-day collection and will never look out of place on dry land.” Lisa Broun, Senior Watch Buyer UK
TUDOR Royal Date Day $2,350.00
TUDOR Royal Date Day £1,730.00
“In 2020 the TUDOR Royal made its debut, and we had the honour of selling the collection exclusively in our new TUDOR White City Boutique. The name ‘Royal’ was first used by TUDOR in the 1950s to highlight the superior quality of its watches and the latest collection is no exception. With an integrated bracelet, notched bezel and an automatic movement, the new collection is a versatile and elegant. Although not a re-edition the 1970’s inspired sport chic design is sharply defined and uncompromisingly robust. Look out for the Royal collection in the rest of our TUDOR stockists in March/April.” Lisa Broun, Senior Watch Buyer UK