The Best Tudor Watch Models Ever Created
Affordable, reliable, great-looking, available... these days there are almost more reasons to choose Tudor than its ubiquitous older brother.
First launched in 1946, Tudor was originally Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf’s bid for the mid-market. Tudor watches looked like Rolexes, they just weren’t made in precious metal and didn’t have in-house movements. It was an idea that worked. Tudor became incredibly popular, leveraging the reputation of Rolex, while still having a personality of its own.
It wasn’t just civvies who appreciated the value and robustness of Tudor’s watches. Its Submariner (yes, even the names were the same) was picked up by the Israeli naval commandos in the 1960s, followed swiftly by French naval and US elite combat divers. Then, in 1996, on its 50th anniversary, Tudor decided to no longer rely on Rolex components – such as the cases, winding crowns and bracelets – in favour of Tudor-made ones. Less than ideal sales figures following this decision saw Tudor stop retailing in markets such as the US and the UK by the end of the 1990s.
The Heritage Chrono emerged in 2010 in a tentative, ‘head above the parapet’ moment to see if people were still interested Rolex’s little brother. But it was the Heritage Black Bay, launched in 2012, that put Tudor back on the map. It was a stylish amalgam of Submariners past, reviving Tudor’s famous ‘snowflake’ hour hands but combining it with the no-crown guard elegance of an earlier era of the Submariner’s history.
By 2013, it was back in the USA and was available to buy in the UK a year later. Since then, it has partnered with Breitling on a movement exchange in 2017 – Tudor was allowed to put a, some say improved, B01 in its Heritage Chronograph, while Breitling’s Superocean is now powered by Tudor’s MT5612. It has also convinced Chanel to take a 20% stake in its movement company, Kenissi, and started winning at the annual watch Oscars, the Grand Prix d’Horolgerie de Genève (GPHG).
With the majority of new launches containing in-house movements, it has become one of the best horological bangs for your buck on the market. Rolex, who now?
8 Tudor Watches You Should Consider
Tudor is an incredibly democratic brand. Every size, style, and occasion is covered in its catalogue. You could satisfy each watch wardrobe need with a design from its various collections. From the more interesting Black Bays to elegant dress timepieces, here’s eight watches and collections to get your Tudor obsession started.
Black Bay P01
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Tudor was in the business of specc-ing watches for Navies, including the French Marine Nationale and the US Navy. In 1967 the latter came to Tudor asking for modifications to the Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7928, because the crown was getting knocked and the bidirectional bezel was dangerous.
Under the code name ‘Commando’, Tudor developed this watch with a never-before-seen claw mechanism at 12 o’clock which, when released, allowed the wearer to remove the bezel. Rumours are that the US Marines deemed the watch too technical, though the party line is it was too expensive, so the watch was shelved.
Such as the legendary status of this watch that in the years that followed a Japanese brand tried to pass off a recreation as an original, while Antiquorum actually sold an alleged Project Commando piece twice, in 2001 and then in 2004, which was then discovered to be fake.
2019 was the first time the Commando was put into production, with the unusual crown at 4 o’clock and the claw at 12 o’clock – though now this merely locks the bezel rather than allowing it to be removed – and the chunky, almost ovoid case. It’s a total Marmite watch with an origin story to match a Marvel character.
Another cool tool watch. This was created in collaboration with a specialist combat unit of the French Navy. These divers swim in pairs, connected by a strap, close to the water’s surface. They have to reach a precise location, undetected without surfacing, which they manage by swimming in a specific direction for a set period of time, then adjusting course and setting off again.
The bezel of the FXD has been designed to be fully indexed, bidirectional and with a countdown function to aid this type of swimming. The sapphire crystal is flat, sitting flush to the bezel so you can read the dial at any angle even while underwater.
It also has a fabric strap with a proprietary Velcro-esque way of fastening to ensure it won’t fall off. At 42mm, it’s not a dainty piece but what diving watch ever is?
Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze
When the original iteration of this particular steel Black Bay came out in 2018, it was viewed as Tudor’s bid for the Submariner market. It was a clever mix of vintage details – 39mm case, oversized crown from the 1950s, snowflake hands from the 1970s – repackaged in a way that felt modern.
2021 saw it go full bronze. Everything about it is fabulous, from the chocolate brown dial and bezel to the new T-fit rapid adjustment strap that allows you adjust the bracelet in over 8mm in five positions, without needing a tool.
It is powered by an in-house, COSC-certified movement, comes with a complementary fabric strap, which is woven on 19th century looms by Julien Faure, an haute couture ribbon maker, and is yours for just £3,560/$4,625.
Heritage Chrono Blue
Although the Black Bay garnered all the column inches, it was the Heritage Chrono that kickstarted Tudor’s comeback in 2010, marking the 40th anniversary of its first chronograph. This new and improved blue version followed in 2013.
Suffice to say, it’s not your average chronograph. Its predecessor is the Monte Carlo from 1973. In the 1970s, rather than the vintage automotive style, chronographs were more surreal, with bold colours, graphic lines and bright colours. Tudor has parlayed those details into this 21st century update.
As well as having a standard chronograph function, the bi-directional bezel allows for a second time-zone display, useful if you are ever playing the roulette tables at Monte; tables whose design inspired the unusual dial.
It’s not for everyone, not least because the case is a substantial 42mm, but if you have Black Bay fatigue, it’s a smart choice.
It may come as a shock, but Tudor don’t just make rugged sports watches; it does dress too. This is Tudor’s entry-level collection. The name refers to the year Hans Wilsdorf dreamt up the idea for Tudor and the price is kept reasonable by using movements from Sellita or ETA, though ones that have been tested by Tudor so you’re not compromising on accuracy.
This is the place to find your first mechanical timepiece. The aesthetic is classic – clean dial, a mix of indices and Arabic numerals, no bold colours – but you can still have fun with the bi-colour options.
It isn’t a collection that will knock people’s socks off but if you want something to see you from boardroom to bar without breaking the bank then look no further.
With its integrated bracelet and gnarled bezel, this collection definitely calls to mind a certain Gerald Genta design named after a tree (hint: Royal Oak), while the day window at the top of some of the models looks pure DayDate.
Comparisons aside, this is a solid sports-luxe watch. There are plenty of versions to choose from depending on how much you want to lean into the seventies aesthetic. For those brave enough, this champagne dial bicolour is a magnificent choice, staying just the right side of acceptable. If you’d rather something more restrained, there’s an all-steel option.
Powering the larger models is a modified Sellita with a Nivaflex barrel spring – an alloy that is wholly non-magnetic – and it has a five-year warranty, which was made standard on all Tudors produced from 2020. So, more time on the wrist, less in the workshop.
Black Bay GMT S&G (AKA ‘Root Beer’)
As much as Tudor is now a standalone brand in its own right, you can’t deny the GMT-Master II genes with this design, especially when Tudor launched the first steel version with a Pepsi dial back in 2018.
This 2022 update is officially known as the S&G, or ‘steel and gold’, but obviously thanks to Rolex and its discontinued black and brown bezeled GMT-Master II, everyone’s calling it the Root Beer.
While you can opt for a brown leather or fabric strap, it’s on the bicolour that the design really sings. The lush, polished gold through the middle of the bracelet picks up on the metal in the bezel and on the crown, imbuing this robust sports watch with an aura of luxury.
Inside is Tudor’s in-house Manufacture Calibre MT5652, which was designed for its first GMT and has a 70-hour power reserve. It’s chunky beast of a watch – the 41mm case sits 15mm high on the wrist – but when you’re wearing something this exceptional, wouldn’t you want people to notice it?
No that isn’t a typo. While Tudor wouldn’t dare (or hasn’t yet dared) to use the Submariner name anymore, you can find this watch on preowned sites.
The model to look for is the 7016/0. It was launched in 1969 and was the successor to the 7928. This is the watch where the snowflake hands are seen for the first time; introduced because of feedback from the Marine Nationale who had requested a more legible dial than the 7928. It is also the first time Tudor used ETA.
The dials were notorious for bubbling, something which has become a badge of honour for collectors and mentioned on specs as proof that the watch is an untampered-with original. However, 7016/0s are expensive, going for upwards of £15,000/$19,000, but you can pick up a vintage Submariner for around £5,000/$6,300, which looks like a bargain compared to the other watch that bears the same name.