Tudor watches

Tudor watches: history, innovations and best 2021 models

The Tudor watch brand was founded in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex. Wilsdorf aimed at offering watches as reliable as a Rolex watch but offered at a lower price. We can affirm that the Tudor brand's creation represents the first real brands' segmentation experiment; this practice is today spread across different industries, including watchmaking as well as, for example, the automotive industry). Back then, the company "Veuve de Philippe Hüther" registered and trademarked "The TUDOR" on behalf of Mr. Hans Wilsdorf. He later acquired the exclusive ownership once he moved from England to Geneva in 1936.

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After the acquisition, the logo, initially characterized by the name TUDOR written in capital letters and with elongated "T" letter, turned to a new one featuring a rose inside a shield. The rose is a re-designed variant of the Royal House of Tudors' logo. The new logo symbolized strength and grace, hence product sturdiness and sleek design. The shield disappeared from the watch brand logo as of 1947.

The development of Tudor watches

The international development of the brand began after the end of the Second World War. Back then, Tudor watches began creating new timepieces and explore markets while relying on Rolex's know-how, brand awareness, and sales network. In the following years, the Rolex logo will frequently be associated with Tudor watches before the brand could finally become a fully independent brand.

1952: Tudor introduces the Oyster Prince

As the name suggests, Tudor introduces a timepiece that confirms Wilsdorf's commitment to providing any new Tudor watch with Rolex's technology. The original Tudor Oyster Prince features a waterproof Oyster case and the patented  Perpetual winding mechanism too.

1952-tudor-oyster-prince-ad-campaign-1The advertising campaign proves how the brand communication strategy is different from Rolex's. Tudor focuses on quality to price ratio, precision, and sturdiness; these features are the brand's pillars nowadays too.

1960: Tudor Oyster Prince Ranger

The Tudor Oyster Prince Ranger dates back to the early 1960s and, the reference 7995/0, for example, houses an ETA 2483 caliber. In the 1960s, Tudor watches gradually turned to ETA to power current and new models, including various Tudor Submariners moving forward.

tudor-oyster-prince-ranger-7995-1967-1The 1967 variant displayed on Tudor's official website combines the ETA 2483 with the Oyster case and bracelet with rivets and safety clasp. This timepiece showcases another distinctive feature: the trademark curved "Self-winding" wording as with all the three-hands wristwatches.

Tudor-Heritage-RangerIn 2014 the brand re-issued the Ranger offering a more contemporary 41mm case size in replacement of the original 34mm, powered by a modern automatic ETA movement and adopting a "Bund leather strap" with folding clasp. A replacement camouflage strap with pin buckle came as standard. The new Ranger later came with Oyster steel bracelet too; nowadays, the Tudor Ranger has been phased out.

1954 - 1999: the Tudor Submariner saga

In 1954, Tudor presented its first diving watch: the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner 7922. The former and the Tudor reference 7924 introduced in 1958, also known as the "Big Crown," were the inspiration for today's Tudor Black Bay. Both models share the same layout, featuring an Oyster case, but the 7924 was designed to resist up to 200 meters instead of the original 100 meters.

tudor-submariner-7924-big-crown-single-red-gilt-dialThey also shared the Mercedes-style hands replaced with snowflake hands afterward. Between the two references, the brand introduced the Tudor reference 7923, powered by the hand-wound ETA 1182 caliber, thus being the only hand-wound Tudor Submariner ever. The case size is 37mm across, with the difference that the "Big Crown" sported an oversized winding crown. The photo above, courtesy of Heritage Auctions, shows a variant with a "Gilt Dial" and red triangle at twelve. The Big Crown is hard to find as it was produced for a single year.

tudor-submariner-7928-square-crown-guards-1With the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner 7928 (above is a piece sold by Antiquorum in 2019 for around 69,000 Swiss Francs) from 1959, the protectors around the crown appeared for the first time. This reference also reveals how close was the relationship between Tudor and Rolex from a design perspective. The steel case grew to 39mm in diameter. The Tudor Square Crown Guards, as collectors nickname it, is waterproof and adopts the Tudor 390 caliber, used across all the Tudor 7900 series, but also tested on some Tudor 7800 series' references.

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