Tudor is a Swiss manufacturer of luxury wristwatches based in Geneva. Registered in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf, the found of Rolex SA, the brand remains a sister company to Rolex, both companies being owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. Over time Tudor became especially well known for its tool watches producing watches for professional divers and the military. Between the 1960s and 1980s several navies issued Tudor Submariners to their divers, including the US Navy SEALs and the French Marine National.
The French Navy was involved in field research for a Tudor diving watch, From the 1960s to the mid 80s, watches were supplied to the French Navy in bulk without bracelets. Tudor launched its first diving watch in 1954, the Oyster Prince Submariner, waterproof to 100 meters. This was increased to 200 metres in 1958.
In 2009, Tudor instigated a major brand relaunch with new product lines. These watches draw in part inspiration from their 20th century counterparts. The Heitage Chrono was the first of the Tudor Heritage line of watches designed to echo Tudor’s best-known vintage models and also the first to come with an additional fabric strap. In 2012, the focus was on divers’ watches with the Heritage Black Bay, a reinterpretation of the early Tudor Submariner models, and the Pelagos diver’s watch. The Pelagos has a 42 mm titanium case – the first titanium watch from the Rolex group. It is also waterproof to a depth of 500 metres.
Tudor, on the other hand, offers models that are significantly cheaper, yet still deliver comparable quality. The Tudor Pelagos, for example, features a COSC-certified, in-house, automatic movement that offers a 70-hour power reserve. The steel and titanium 42-mm case is rated water resistant to 500m (1,640ft) and its ceramic rotating bezel comes in two different colours: matt black or matt blue. There’s even a helium escape valve and a fancy bracelet extension system, and yet it costs less than half the price of a comparable Rolex Sea Dweller.
Tudor, on the other hand, is all about trying new ideas. The brand’s tag line is ‘Born To Dare’ and they really take that seriously.
One of the things that Tudor does really well, possibly better than any other comparable brand out there, is combining elements of its heritage with new designs. The brand has a healthy respect for its origins, and continually pays subtle homage to the classic models that helped establish the brand. The characteristic angular hands, known as snowflake hands, that appear on many of its current models were borrowed from the TUDOR watches used by the French National Navy in the 1970s. The domed dials and crystals, meanwhile, were inspired by the first Tudor diving watches.
In addition to being cheaper, more versatile and quite frankly, more interesting than Rolex, Tudor also has something else going for it: People won’t think you’re an arrogant show off for wearing one. Deserved or not, Rolex wearers have a reputation amongst the masses, which means it is all but impossible to wear one without someone making a snide remark. Tudor, on the other hand, is still relatively unknown and so you get comparable value and quality without the judgements.
In a way, Tudor still represents its core values, in which the watch manufacturer makes robust timepieces. These are not meant to be flashy or in any way status symbols. They are simply meant to be good looking timepieces that are reliable, well-finished, and robust.
Tudor chronographs have always been more daring than their Rolex siblings, both in size and appearance. In particular, Tudor’s three-register chronographs are often overlooked in its catalog despite being some of the brand’s most innovative models. The “Big Block” was Tudor’s third family of chronographs, first launced in 1976 with the ref. 94300.
The Oysterdate “Big Block” marked the brand’s first chronograph to come equipped with a self-winding mechanical movement, the workhouse Valjoux 7750 boasts a highly reliable chronograph mechanism with a cam and oscillating pinion system. The architechture of this movement necessitated a few stylistic updates compared to previous families. First, it required a reorganization of the dial with the addition of a third register with a 12-hour indicator, the arrangement of the sub-dials on the left-hand sidem and the relocation of the date aperture to three o’clock. The case design generally retained the makeup of previous examples; however, the watch does feature a thicker case to accommodate the movement’s rotor, hence the “Big Block” name.