Tudor Brand Review By Alexander – Founder and Owner of swissdiverswatches.com
Tudor is a subsidiary of Rolex and was established by Rolex’s founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1946, in order to offer customers a more affordable alternative, that would deliver the same reliability and quality as the parent company.
The name Tudor is derived from a Royal English family called Tudor which ruled England between 1485 and 1603.
In 1926, Rolex’s founder Hans Wilsdorf got the idea of establishing a Rolex subsidiary which could offer the same quality and dependability as Rolex but at more modest prices. He decided to call the new brand Tudor.
In 1932, Rolex sold its first Tudor watches in Australia.
In 1946, Hans Wilsdorf, officially and formally founded a new Swiss luxury wristwatch brand, called Tudor, which is a Rolex subsidiary. Tudor was established as “Montres TUDOR S.A.”
By the late 1940s and early 1950s, wristwatches were an established fact of life across the world, and by this time Rolex was already an internationally recognized and established brand.
Due to the increasing prices of Rolex timepieces, Hans Wilsdorf wanted to offer customers high quality timepieces in a more affordable price range. In the beginning, Tudor was almost indistinguishable from its parent company, but later on transformed into a brand with its own soul.
In 1952, Tudor launched the Tudor Oyster Prince which is essentially a very robust and strongly built dress watch.
In 1954, Tudor launched the Tudor Submariner which was a homage to and a copy of the legendary Rolex Submariner. The charactertistics of the Tudor Submariner were water resistance, precision, durability and reliability. These watches were considerable more affordable than the Rolex Submariners.
In 1957, the luxury brand released the Tudor Advisor which was the brand’s very first and last alarm watch.
In 1958, the watch manufacturer launched the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner “Big Crown”. Its nickname “Big Crown” was given by collectors due to the extra large crown of the watch. The Tudor Submariner’s water depth was doubled to 200 meters.
In 1967, the brand launched the Tudor Oyster Prince Ranger.
In 1969, Tudor launched the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner “Snowflake”. Collectors called it “snowflake” due to the large white square-shaped hour markers.
The logo of the dial also changed. Gone was the traditional rose logo, and in its place, Tudor placed a shield. This was the true beginning of Tudor’s identity. The modern Tudor Pelagos is extremely similar, if not almost identical, to the Tudor Submariner “Snowflake”.
In 1970, Tudor launched the first Tudor chronograph watch. The watch was called Tudor Oysterdate.
In 1971, they released the Tudor Oysterdate “Montecarlo”. The watch was called “Monte Carlo” due to the fact that the dial was similar in apperance to roulette Wheels found in casinos.
In 1976, the luxury brand released the first automatic chronograph watches. They were called Tudor Prince Oysterdate “Big Block”. Due to the increased thickness of the case, due to the rotor inside, collectors gave the watch its nickname “Big Block”.
In 1977, the French Navy, or Marine Nationale (MN) and the US Navy (USN) started using the Tudor Submariners in their service. This is a token that Tudor watches were highly trusted tool watches and could survive under very harsh conditions. Due to the wear and tear there are few of those Tudor Submariners left, that have been in the service of various navies around the world, but to collectors, this item, if available is truly a gem.
These Tudor Submariners weren’t specifically designed for anyone, but the only distinguishing feature of these watches, that were utilized by the navies around the world, were the initials or engravings of the navy’s name on the case back.
In 1978, the brand launched a chronograph watch called Tudor Prince Oysterdate “Big Black Exotic”. This watch was essentially the same “Big Block” watch launched by Tudor in 1976, with the distinction of having a more colorful dial, which earned it its nickname “Exotic”.
In 1995, Tudor launched yet another chronograph watch called Tudor Prince Oysterdate Fourth Series.
The mission of Tudor is fairly straightforward: to offer customers Swiss luxury watches of similar quality and reliability as its parent company Rolex, but in a considerably more reasonable price range.
Tudor is meant to serve as a more affordable alternative to all Rolex lovers and enthusiasts out there, who desire a Rolex but can’t afford one. Opting for a Tudor means you’ll get class, quality, reliability and style. In a sense, Tudor is Rolex – just a considerably more affordable one!
Since Tudor is a subsidiary of Rolex, it means that the manufacturing philosophy of Tudor is quite similar to Rolex. Just like its parent company Rolex, Tudor wants relentless and uncompromising quality.
Tudor’s affinity with Rolex means you’ll get a taste of the Rolex brand, but in a more affordable price range.
Unlike Rolex, which relies exclusively on 100% in-house made chronometer certified movements, Tudor utilizes both non-chronometer certified modified ETA movements, procured from Swatch Group, and chronometer certified Tudor in-house movements which I believe were released by Tudor in 2015.
Tudor is known to use very precise movements and this is probably attributable to the fact that Swatch Group makes excellent movements – including the generic lower end ETA movements, and it’s probably also attributable to the fact that Tudor upgrades their ETA movements. Tudor’s in-house movements are manufactured by Rolex which explains the quality, accuracy, and reliability of their movements. Tudor’s movements are known to be durable and serviceable.
Tudor isn’t known for movement complications or Haute Horlogerie (higher watchmaking), but does offer several chronograph models.
In similarity to most Swiss luxury brands, Tudor watches are mass produced trough modern industrial high-technological methods, while the automatic movements are meticulously assembled by master watchmakers.
Just like Rolex, Tudor undergoes meticulous and highly demanding quality Controls. Not a single Tudor watch is released from the factories until Tudor is 100% satisfied. Tudor’s movements and watches are tested relentlessly.
In similarity to most Swiss luxury watch brands and manufacturers, Tudor’s movements beat at a frequency of 28,800 vph (vibrations per hour).
However, the power reserve of most Tudor watches (using ETA movements) can be found in the 38-46 hour power reserve range, which makes Tudor’s movement quite mediocre. This is comparable to brands such as Oris, Longines and TAG Heuer. As a comparison, Rolex, Omega and Breitling usually have power reserves in the 48-70 hour power reserve range.
Tudor’s in-house movements by contrast have a staggering 70- hour power reserve.
Unlike Rolex, which uses the 904L stainless steel alloy, Tudor uses the 316L stainless steel alloy, which is standard for several Swiss luxury watch brands and manufacturers. The 316L stainless steel grade is also known to be used by other brands such as Omega and Breitling.
As far as I know, the 316L stainless steel grade is as hard as the famous 904L stainless steel grade used by Rolex, but the 316L is less resistant to corrosion.
However resistance to corrosion is only relevant if you wear your timepiece daily in very demanding environments. For daily wear and use, and diving even, it makes almost no difference. To my knowledge, much of the diver’s equipment out there actually uses the 316L stainless steel alloy.
316L is an excellent steel grade, so you shouldn’t have any worries whatsoever concerning the quality of Tudor watches!
Tudor is a subsidiary of Rolex.
Tudor relies both on ETA/Valjoux movements procured from Swatch Group, and their in-house movements (manufactured by Rolex) which Tudor if I’m not mistaken, released in 2015.
Tudor’s usage of ETA movements means its parent company Rolex will be spared the expenses of making in-house movements for Tudor. That’s one of the main reasons why Tudor is more affordable than Rolex: the production and labor costs are reduced.
- Tudor automatic movement 2824, base movement Swiss automatic ETA 2824, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 38 hour power reserve.
- Tudor in-house automatic movement MT5601, with 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve.
- Tudor in-house automatic movement MT5602, with 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve.
- Tudor automatic movement 2824, base movement Swiss automatic ETA 2824, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 38 hour power reserve.
- Tudor in-house automatic movement MT5612, with 28,800 vph, and a 70 hour power reserve.
Regarding ETA 2824: Albeit a generic and standard movement by Swatch Group, the famous ETA 2824 movement is known to be accurate and reliable. ETA 2824 is commonly used by brands such as Tissot, Certina, Longines and Breitling.
Regarding ETA 2892: The higher end ETA movement 2892, is commonly used by Omega Seamaster Professional divers watches. However, Omega modifies and upgrades them into the Omega co-axial 2500 movement.
As far as the ETA movements in general are concerned, Tudor uses basic and generic movements, known to be accurate and reliable, but they aren’t comparable in quality, accuracy, durability and serviceability to say Rolex and Omega.
As far as the in-house made Tudor movements are concerned, they might compare favorably to Rolex and Omega in terms of quality, accuracy, durability and serviceability.
Tudor is a subsidiary of Rolex, and is often referred to as the “Little Brother” of Rolex. Tudor makes Swiss quality watches in a more reasonable price range, available to a considerably larger clientele.
Tudor is an entry-level wristwatch brand, and is meant for those who desire Rolex but want a more affordable alternative. To my knowledge, Tudor watches are available at several retailers across the world, but was absent from the North American market for several years.
As far as ranking is concerned, I’d place Tudor among the world’s top 20-30 luxury wristwatch brands.
Even though Tudor is often being referred to as “the Little Brother of Rolex”, Tudor has no “Little Brother” complex of any kind. Tudor is one of the most prominent watch manufacturers in the world!
In the 1940s, Rolex’s founder Hans Wilsdorf realized that Rolex watches were too expensive for most people, and therefore he decided that Rolex should offer a more affordable and financially reachable alternative to a larger circle of people. In 1946, Hans Wilsdorf established Tudor as a Rolex subsidiary.
Tudor isn’t the most well known brand in the world but does in fact offer excellent quality watches.
At large, both Rolex and Tudor are manufactured by the same people, that are using similar machines for the various production stages. The components of the watches (cases and bracelets) are similar, but the movements aren’t.
Rolex relies exclusively on 100% in-house made movements while its subsidiary – Tudor – uses both non-chronometer certified modified generic lower end Swiss ETA movements, and chronometer certified in-house made Tudor movements, manufactured by Rolex.
Tudor is more affordable than Rolex because they utilize to a large extent, ETA movements procured from Swatch Group – a competitor of Rolex. Swatch Group owns brands such as Omega, Blancpain, Breguet, Longines, Tissot, Certina and a few others.
Since many Tudor watches don’t utilize in-house made Rolex movements it means the cost of manufacturing movements doesn’t have to be factored into the price. However, Tudor does modify and improve their ETA movements, so I wouldn’t suggest that there aren’t any technical improvements made. For example, some of the modified ETA movements utlized by Tudor, have an improved power reserve.
Tudor’s ETA/Valjoux movements procured from Swatch Group:
As far as quality and performance level are concerned, would I compare lower end ETA movements to Rolex’s in-house movements? In all honesty – no.
Tudor’s ETA movements, being generic lower end automatic ETA movements, have significantly smaller power reserves and fewer jewels than Rolex’s in-house made movements. The number of (synthetically made) jewels alleviate and decrease the friction inside the movement and thus increase the movement’s durability and serviceability.
To my knowledge, Tudor’s modified ETA movements don’t use Rolex’s parachrom hairsprings, that are anti-magnetic and 10 times more shock resistant than ordinary conventional hairsprings. I’d say that Tudor’s lower price range is attributable first and foremost to the fact that these watches use Swiss ETA movements instead of Rolex’s in-house made movements.
Tudor’s in-house made chronometer certified automatic movements:
Tudor’s in-house made movements might actually place the Tudor brand on par with brands such as Rolex, Omega and Breitling. These in-house made movements have a power reserve of 70 hours, which is in fact fully comparable to Rolex, Omega and Breitling, and Tudor’s in-house made movements are chronometer certified – just like Rolex, Omega and Breitling.
Tudor’s in-house movements do use a silicon balance spring, for anti-magnetic purposes, which is similar to what Rolex and Omega are using in their own in-house made movements.
Tudor watches equipped with in-house made Tudor movements, made in Rolex’s factories, are naturally more expensive than Tudors relying on ETA/Valjoux movements procured from Swatch Group.
What organizations use Tudor as their official timekeeper?
For example the famous motorbike manufacturer Ducati and The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which is a famous motor sport organization.
What are the most legendary Tudor watches ever made?
The most popular and legendary Tudor watch collection of all time is probably the Tudor Submariner, named after Rolex Submariner. Tudor Submariner was launched in 1954. The original Tudor Submariners were in fact copies of the Rolex Submariner – you could hardly tell them apart.
Fast forward to the 21st century: Tudor offers divers watches, sports watches and dress watches. Even though the brand offers dress watches to some degree, Tudor should be considered to be first and foremost a sports- and divers watch brand. The most legendary modern divers watches made by Tudor would be Tudor Heritage and Tudor Pelagos.
What is the ultimate divers watch ever made by Tudor?
I think that Tudor Pelagos in particular should interest you, if you want a more affordable, aesthetically playful and modern looking alternative to the legendary Rolex Submariner. Tudor Pelagos is almost identical in appearance to the Tudor Submariner “Snowflake” which was launched in 1969. It’s the “Snowflake” Tudor Submariner that started the tradition of displaying a shield as Tudor’s logo, instead of the rose logo.
Tudor Pelagos is water resistant down to 500 meters/1640 feet. This might in fact be the ultimate divers watch ever made by Tudor!
Tudor Pelagos has a very professional instrumental look to it – a real tool watch – that can in fact be used for more formal occasions as well. Divers watch aficionados seem to be infatuated with this watch!
So what exactly sets Tudor apart from its parent company Rolex?
Basically five (5) things:
- Rolex relies exclusively and 100% on in-house made movements. Tudor relies both on modified generic lower end ETA/Valjoux movements, and in-house made Tudor movements, manufactured by Rolex.
- All Rolex movements are chronometer certified. Only Tudor’s in-house made movements are chronometer certified. Tudor watches using modified generic lower end ETA/Valjoux movements are not chronometer certified.
- Tudor is considerably more affordable than Rolex which is first and foremost attributable to the fact that Tudor to a large extent uses Swiss ETA movements. This means Rolex is spared the manufacture and labor costs.
- Tudor uses a standard stainless steel grade called 316L, which is used by several other Swiss luxury wristwatch brands such as Omega and Breitling. Tudor unlike Rolex, also relies on titanium. Rolex on the other hand uses the 904L stainless steel alloy.
- Tudor has a slightly different design from Rolex. Aesthetically speaking, Tudor is more playful and experimental whereas Rolex tends to be more conservative and traditional. The aesthetical part is just a matter of taste – there is no right and wrong here. It’s up to you to decide which design is preferable.
At large Tudor can offer you a similar quality and reliability as Rolex, as far as cases and bracelets are concerned.
How would I compare Tudor to other brands?
Tudor definitely ranks above the vast majority of wristwatch brands available on the market – Swiss and non-Swiss, but Tudor doesn’t measure up to brands such as Rolex, Omega, IWC, Breitling, and Jaeger LeCoultre – just to mention a few prominent examples. Frankly, I think it’s dishonest to state anything else. What I’m referring to here is innovation, impact on watchmaking, history, name recognition, status and prestige, and movement complications.
Sales people might use the classic sales point: Tudor’s intimate relationship with Rolex. This is done in order to evoke a feeling of elegance, luxury, exclusivity, and desirability. Nothing wrong with that, but Tudor should be regarded as a unique brand with a unique identity.
If you are looking for a brand which is known to make excellent, robust, accurate, sturdy, sporty looking divers watches that exude quality, Tudor is absolutely the right brand for you!
If you have a slight streak of snobbery, and you’re looking for a brand with a) a very old history b) a brand which is independent, c) a brand which relies exclusively on in-house made movements, and d) a brand known for movement complications, I’m afraid Tudor isn’t the right brand for you.
What it really boils down to is what you need and what you are looking for.
However Tudor does rank above 95-99% of all the brands out there. Opting for a Tudor still means you’ll get a Swiss luxury watch of world class – without question.
Why opt for Tudor?
- Tudor exists for people who love Rolex but want a more affordable alternative.
- Tudor exists for people who love and admire Rolex but want a more aesthetically playful, innovative and experimental alternative design, instead of Rolex’s rather conservative and traditional design.
- Tudor makes excellent quality watches similar to Rolex’s high quality standards.
- Tudor offers excellent divers watches – among them Tudor Heritage and Tudor Pelagos. If you want the very best divers watch that Tudor can offer you, I recommend you to take a look at Tudor Pelagos.
My ranking of Tudor: top 20-30 brands.
It’s debatable how you actually rank a brand, and a ranking is never objective, but the best way to turn a subjective ranking into an “objective” one is to rely on certain criteria. My ranking criteria of course are entirely subjective, and they aren’t set in stone.
I use 14 criteria in determining the ranking of a particular brand, such as (1) a long and respected history, (2) limited supply and large demand, (3) reputation/status/prestige, (4) whether the brand is independent or not, (5) pioneering spirit and innovations, (6) impact on watchmaking history and modern culture, (7) general in-house production, (8) whether the brand relies on in-house made movements or not, (9) whether or not the brand makes movement complications, (10) steel grade, (11) build quality, (12) price range, (13) good resale value, and (14) market presence.
Prices for Tudor Watches
- Tudor Heritage Black Bay can be found in the $3,000-$5,000 price range.
- Tudor Pelagos can be found in the $3,000-$4,000 price range.
Being a subsidiary of Rolex, Tudor offers quality watches similar to Rolex’s standards, but in a more reasonable price range.
If you have any comments or questions please drop them below and I’ll be happy to answer them!