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Tudor

Originally founded as an affordable alternative to Rolex, modern-day Tudor has forged its own path by manufacturing high-quality watches at accessible prices–like the popular Black Bay and Pelagos.

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Tudor has dared to emerge from Rolex’s shadow with top-notch affordable watches, now all assembled at Tudor’s own manufacture in Le Locle.

Since its brand re-design in the mid-2000s, Tudor has come back stronger than ever, offering an excellent selection of premium watches at relatively affordable price points. Tudor’s current motto is “Born to Dare,” and that’s exactly what the brand did when it returned to the U.S. market after a 17-year absence. 

In less than a decade since its American return, Tudor has become one of the most popular watch brands in the market, earning a reputation for punching well above its weight class. Tudor can now proudly leave that unfortunate “poor man’s Rolex” label behind. For decades, final assembly of Tudor watches was done at Rolex’s headquarters in Geneva, but since 2023, all Tudors have been assembled at their own new facility in Le Locle.

Tudor factory
The Tudor/Kenissi factory. Photo credit: Tudorwatch.com

Jump to a section:

  1. History of Tudor Watches
  2. Watch Manufacturing
  3. Grey Market Prices and Authorized Dealers
  4. Notable Models
  5. Notable Patrons and Owners
  6. Sponsorship and Collaborations
  7. Commonly Asked Questions

Tudor History

The founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, was also the founder of Tudor watches. Wilsdorf created the Tudor brand to sell watches with similar reliability and durability to Rolex but at more affordable prices. 

Early History of Tudor Watches

The brand was originally trademarked as “The Tudor” for Wilsdorf in 1926 by a watch dealer called Veuve de Philippe Hüther. The name was eventually transferred to Wilsdorf and Montres TUDOR S.A. was formed in 1946. 

The Birth of Tudor

  • 1926: Veuve de Philippe Hüther registers the trademark “The Tudor” for Hans Wilsdorf
  • 1936: The Tudor brand is transferred to Hans Wilsdorf
  • 1946: Hans Wilsdorf establishes the Montres Tudor S.A. company

Wilsdorf leveraged Rolex’s success to help Tudor in the early years. Not only did Rolex handle Tudor’s distribution and after-sales service, but also heavily influenced the design of Tudor watches. In fact, early Tudor print advertisements included “Made by Rolex” to emphasize Tudor’s quality. Tudor watches also had parts stamped with the Rolex crown. 

In 1952, Tudor released the Oyster Prince watch, which combined a waterproof “Oyster” case and a self-winding movement. Rolex had the Oyster Perpetual and Tudor had the Oyster Prince. 

  • 1952: Tudor introduces the Oyster Prince
  • 1954: Tudor introduces  the Submariner
  • 1957: Tudor introduces the Advisor alarm watch
  • 1967: Tudor introduces the Oyster Prince Ranger
  • 1969: Tudor replaces the rose logo with the shield logo
  • 1969: Tudor introduces the Oyster Prince Day + Date
  • 1970: Tudor introduces the manually-wound Oysterdate Chronograph
  • 1976: Tudor introduces the automatic Prince Oysterdate Chronograph

Over the following decades, Tudor launched plenty of watch models, such as the Tudor Submariner dive watch, the Advisor alarm watch, the Ranger explorer watch, the Oysterdate chronograph, and others. From the 1950s until the 1980s, new Tudor models were often quite similar to Rolex watches but released at a later date, and of course, more affordable. 

Recent developments

By the 1990s, Tudor strived to distance itself from Rolex to create its own brand identity. As a result, Tudor stopped using names that were heavily associated with Rolex, such as “Oyster” and ceased using design details that were known to be Rolex creations, like the Cyclops date magnification lenses. According to the New York Times, Tudor officially left the U.S. market in 1996 and wouldn’t return for almost two decades. 

In 2007, Tudor underwent a rebrand; three years later, the company launched the pivotal Heritage Chrono. This was the first of many Tudor Heritage models, which served to highlight important pieces from the brand’s archives but redesigned to suit modern luxury watch buyers. 

  • 2010: Tudor introduces the Heritage Chrono
  • 2011: Tudor introduces the Fastrider, Clair de Rose, and Heritage Advisor
  • 2012: Tudor  introduces the Heritage Black Bay and Pelagos
  • 2013: Tudor returns to the U.S. market
  • 2014: Tudor introduces the Style and  Heritage Ranger
  • 2015: Tudor introduces the North Flag, its first watch with an in-house movement
  • 2018: Tudor introduces the 1926 collection
  • 2020: Tudor introduces Royal collection

Rebranded Tudor launched new models at a dizzying pace after that, many of which captured the attention of the watch community. In 2012, Tudor released the Black Bay – a model that would eventually expand to become Tudor’s flagship collection. Finally, in 2013, Tudor officially returned to the U.S. and quickly became one of the most popular affordable luxury watch brands in the American market. 

Tudor Watch Manufacturing 

During Tudor’s early history, the company depended largely on Rolex for designs, parts, and distribution. What’s more, Tudor exclusively used modified outsourced movements to power its watches, which was critical to keep prices low. However, since its rebrand, Tudor has worked hard to establish an identity outside of Rolex’s realm by designing and manufacturing a fantastic assortment of watches equipped with in-house-made movements. 

Materials used in Tudor Watches

Tudor uses a wide range of materials to craft its watches. 

  1. Stainless steel
  2. Titanium
  3. Bronze
  4. Ceramic
  5. 18k yellow gold
  6. 925 silver
  7. Two-tone steel/gold

Furthermore, some Tudor watches are also available with diamond dials or diamond bezels. 

Tudor Movements: Outsourced vs. In-House

For most of its history, Tudor relied on calibers created by specialized movement manufacturers to power its watches. However, in 2015, Tudor announced its first in-house made movement, also known as a manufacture caliber. Since then, Tudor has released more in-house movements and rolled them out to many of its watch collections. All in-house Tudor manufacture calibers are automatic and certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

While there are some exceptions to this rule, one quick way to tell what type of movement is inside a Tudor watch is to look at the inscription on the dial:

  • Rotor Self-Winding = Outsourced movement
  • Chronometer Officially Certified = In-house movement

Tudor watches with dials that have the “Rotor Self-Winding” writing are sometimes nicknamed “Smiley” because of the upward arching shape of the “Self-Winding” text. 

In 2021, Tudor began fitting some of its watches with display casebacks to show off the movement inside. 

Tudor Reference Numbers

Every Tudor watch has a reference number, which is also known as the model or style number. A modern Tudor reference number is made up of five digits and indicates the watch model type.

Tudor Reference numbers and model type

Modern Tudor reference numbers are engraved on the undersides of the watches’ lugs. Conversely, vintage Tudor watches have reference numbers engraved in between the lugs at the 12 o’clock side (behind the bracelet).

Tudor Model FamilyTudor Reference
Black Bay79xxx
Pelagos25xxx
Ranger799xx
Heritage Chrono703xx
192691xxx
Royal28xxx
Style12xxx
Glamour5xxxx
Clair de Rose35xxx

Some Tudor reference numbers also include letters at the end, which generally describes the bezel color or case material. A few common letter codes in Tudor reference numbers include: 

  • N = Noir (Black)
  • B = Bleu (Blue)
  • R = Rouge (Red)
  • V = Verte (Green)
  • G = Grise (Gray)
  • BA = Bronze-Ardoise (Bronze-Slate)
  • CN = Céramique Noir (Black Ceramic)

Tudor serial numbers

Unlike a Tudor reference number, which is shared across many watches, a Tudor serial number is unique to one watch. Vintage Tudor watches have the serial number etched in between the lugs at the 6 o’clock side (behind the bracelet). Conversely, modern Tudor watches have the serial number engraved on the underside of the watches’ lugs. 

Tudor began using randomized serial numbers in 2002, which makes it impossible to date a modern Tudor watch using only its serial number. The best way to gauge an approximate manufacturing date of a modern Tudor watch to check the watch’s official paperwork. 

Counterfeits

Fake watches continue to plague the watch landscape – particularly luxury watches – and unfortunately, the quality of counterfeits is getting better. What’s more, as the popularity of Tudor watches continues to grow, it becomes attractive for forgers to make replica Tudors. Here are some quick ways to spot a fake modern Tudor watch. 

  1. Look closely at the dial – the printing should be sharp and perfect. Any crooked text, spelling mistakes, blurred printing, or misaligned details are all red flags
  2. Inspect the winding crown – the Tudor rose inlay should be slightly raised and you should feel it if you run your finger over it
  3. Check the undersides of the lugs – the reference and serial numbers should be engraved there
  4. Make sure the reference number engraved in the watch matches the model in question 
  5. Examine the caseback – all engravings should be precise and seamless. The etchings should never look blurry or bleed

Of course, the best way to protect yourself from buying a fake Tudor watch is to purchase from a reputable and experienced dealer like Luxury Bazaar. 

Authorized Dealers & Grey Market

Similar to Rolex, Tudor watches are sold worldwide through a network of authorized dealers (ADs). Not only do Tudor authorized dealers have to follow the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) but they only have access to the current collection. Once Tudor discontinues a particular model, an AD will no longer be able to source it from the brand. 

Grey market dealers that sell Tudor watches work differently. Prices are set by market value rather than any official price list. Therefore, depending on the specific model, grey market dealers can offer discounted Tudor watches – or sell them closer to/above retail prices if that’s what the market dictates. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a discontinued Tudor watch that is no longer available at ADs, there’s a good chance you can still purchase it from a grey market dealer.

Notable Models 

The current Tudor catalog is segmented into three sub-lines: Black Bay, Sport Watches, and Classic Watches. While Tudor Black Bay watches are sports watches, the range is so large and varied that it warrants being classified as a separate collection. Tudor watches are prized in the market for offering great designs, top-notch specs, and attainable price points. 

Tudor Black Bay Watches

The Tudor Black Bay debuted in 2012 as a dive watch that combined some key vintage Tudor design elements with contemporary proportions and modern materials. However, it wasn’t long until Tudor expanded the collection to include other watch types (such as three-handers, GMTs, and chronographs) under the Black Bay banner. Today, the Black Bay is Tudor’s largest sub-line, offering a variety of sizes, metals, styles, and functions. However, what ties all Black Bay watches together are dials with distinct “Snowflake” style hands and luminous shapes for hour markers (a mix of mostly circles, some rectangles, and one inverted triangle at 12 o’clock), as well as 200m-water resistant cases. 

Tudor Black Bay models

Black Bay

First introduced as the Heritage Black Bay in 2012, this watch became an immediate success thanks to its vintage diver-inspired looks. To create the Heritage Black Bay, Tudor borrowed design elements from various vintage Tudor Oyster Prince Submariners including the big crown from a 1958 model and the angular “Snowflake” hands from the Submariners delivered to the French Navy in the 1970s. The Heritage Black Bay watches sport 41mm cases, unidirectional rotating bezels with aluminum inserts, and black dials. 

In 2016, Tudor updated the watches with in-house-made mechanical movements and soon dropped “Heritage” from the name. Today, these Tudor 41mm Black Bay diving watches are available in steel (ref. 79230), ceramic (ref. 79210), or two-tone steel/yellow gold (ref. 79733). Tudor offers each Black reference with the choice of bracelets or straps, and the steel versions have bezels in black, blue, or red. 

Black Bay Fifty-Eight

In 2018, Tudor added the Black Bay Fifty-Eight model to its collection, named after the year that the first 200-meter waterproof Tudor dive watch first appeared. Staying true to vintage proportions, Black Bay Fifty-Eight watches feature compact 39mm cases. While the first Black Bay Fifty-Eight was made in stainless steel and furnished with black dials and bezels with old-school gold accents, Tudor has since grown the line to include plenty of other options. 

Today, Black Bay Fifty-Eight watches are available in steel (ref. 79030), bronze (ref. 79012), 925 silver (ref. 79010), and 18k yellow gold (ref. 79018). All of them run on modern in-house-made movements. 

Black Bay Bronze

In 2016, Tudor unveiled the Black Bay Bronze, which was the first time the company used bronze as a material to make watches. Bronze is a unique choice as it will develop a patina over time and every piece will transform differently depending on the wearer and the environment. 

Along with the new metal, the Black Bay Bronze diving watch was also much larger than other BB models, featuring a 43mm case. While the original Black Bay Bronze included a chocolate brown dial and bezel, in 2019, Tudor replaced it with a model fitted with a slate grey dial and bezel. 

Black Bay 32/36/41 & Black Bay S&G 31/36/39/41

In 2016, Tudor introduced  the first non-diving watch Black Bay variant in the form of the Black Bay 36. While it has the signature Black Bay dial design with the snowflake hands and lume plots for hour markers, the watch did not have the necessary 60-minute rotating bezel that would make it a dive watch. Instead, the Black Bay 36 has a smooth unmarked bezel on top of its 36mm case. 

In true Tudor fashion, Tudor expanded this line of time-only Black Bay watches to include various sizes and dial colors. Moreover, in 2022, Tudor also added the option of two-tone steel and gold models. In steel, there are the Black Bay 32, Black Bay 36, and Black Bay 41 options. In two-tone, there are the Black Bay S&G 31, Black Bay S&G 36, Black Bay S&G 39, and Black Bay S&G 41 options. The steel versions run on outsourced movements while the S&G steel/gold models are powered by in-house-made movements. 

Black Bay Chrono

In 2017, Tudor added the first complicated Black Bay model to the collection – the Black Bay Chrono. Like all BB models, the Black Bay Chrono retained key dial details, such as the Snowflake hands and luminous shapes for the hours, yet it was a chronograph watch rather than a diving watch. The Tudor Black Bay Chrono features a 41mm case, two counters and a date window on the dial, and a tachymeter scale on the bezel. Furthermore, the chronograph is also water resistant to 200 meters thanks in part to screw-down chronograph pushers.

Black Bay Chrono

It wasn’t long before Tudor added more metal, color, and strap options to the Black Bay Chrono collection. Today, Tudor makes both steel (ref. 79360) and two-tone steel/yellow gold (ref. 79363) Black Bay Chrono models, each equipped with black bezels and powered by in-house-made chronograph movements. The steel models come with black or white “Panda” dials, while the two-tone variants have either black or champagne dials. 

Black Bay GMT

In 2018, Tudor added yet another complicated non-diving Black Bay model in the form of the Black Bay GMT. Featuring a blue and red “Pepsi” bezel, 41mm steel case, and the addition of both a date window and red 24-hour hand on the familiar BB dial, the Black Bay GMT was a hit and is often compared to the Rolex GMT-Master II. Made with frequent travelers in mind, the Black Bay GMT includes a local jumping hour hand, which makes it simple to change local time when landing in a new time zone; the 24-hour hand can then point to the bezel to display home time. 

Tudor added two-tone steel and yellow gold Black Bay GMT models to the lineup in 2022, complete with black and brown “Root Beer” style bezels. All versions run on in-house made automatic movements. 

Black Bay P01

The Black Bay P01 is inspired by a military prototype developed in the late-1960s for the US Navy. Although the original prototype never went into production, Tudor revived the watch in 2019 to add to the modern Black Bay collection. 

Unlike the variety of the other Black Bay models, there is only one version of the Black Bay P01. It has a 42mm steel case, a winding crown at 4 o’clock, a 12-hour rotating bezel with a locking mechanism, and a leather and rubber hybrid strap with a steel folding clasp. The Black Bay P01 also runs on an in-house movement. 

Black Bay Pro

The Black Bay Pro is the newest member of the Tudor BB collection, released in 2022. With its 39mm steel case, 24-hour engraved fixed bezel, and bright 24-hour hand on the black dial, it’s not hard to see that the Black Bay Pro took inspiration from the vintage 1970s Rolex Explorer II. 

The Black Bay Pro is a GMT watch due to its 24-hour hand pointing to the 24-hour bezel that’s able to display a second time zone. Moreover, it is a particularly practical traveler’s watch since the local 12-hour hand can jump forwards or backward to accommodate a new time zone. Inside the Black Bay Pro is an in-house automatic movement. 

Tudor Sport Watches

Tudor has had a long history of making tool watches, whether for divers, adventurers, or military personnel. The current Tudor Sport watch range is home to several modern versions of historical Tudor timepieces, as well as some brand-new creations. While the range is varied, all Tudor Sport models have a minimum water-resistance rating of 100 meters. 

Pelagos

Introduced in 2012, the Pelagos is Tudor’s most capable diving watch with a water depth rating of 500 m (1,640 ft) and a helium escape valve. The watch is generously sized with a 42mm case and it features a ceramic bezel, yet it’s forged from lightweight titanium. Tudor equipped early Pelagos watches with out-sourced movements to power the timekeeping Snowflake hands and date windows on the dials. However, the Pelagos benefitted from a caliber upgrade in 2015, and all Pelagos watches are now furnished with in-house-made movements. 

The standard Pelagos watches (ref. 25600) come with either black dials and bezels or blue dials and bezels. There’s also the Pelagos LHD (ref. 25610), which has the crown on the left-hand side of the case (LHD stands for “left-hand drive). Made in collaboration with the Marine Nationale (French Navy), the Pelagos FXD (ref. 25707) includes several military-approved specifications such as no date on the dial, fixed strap bars (FXD stands for “fixed”), and a bidirectional bezel that’s fully marked all the way around. 

Finally, in 2022, the Pelagos 39 joined the lineup. As its name suggests, this version sports a compact 39mm case – still crafted in titanium. Size aside, there are other differences too. The Pelagos 39 is water-resistant to 200m/660ft, does not include a helium escape valve, and does not feature a date window on the dial. 

Ranger

Tudor Ranger watches are the brand’s explorer-style models, developed for the adventure set. Modern examples, which debuted as the Heritage Ranger in 2014, are heavily influenced by several vintage Tudor watches.

Tudor Ranger
Tudor Ranger ref. 79950 circa 2022

The latest Ranger model came out in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of the British North Greenland Expedition, to which Tudor had supplied Oyster Prince watches. These new Tudor Ranger watches (ref. 79950) have 39mm steel cases, smooth bezels, black time-only dials with oversized numerals at 3/6/9/12, and in-house automatic movements. 

Heritage Chrono

The Heritage Chrono was the first of Tudor’s Heritage models, which are modern interpretations of vintage watches from the brand’s archives. Tudor launched the Heritage Chrono in 2010, taking inspiration from the Oysterdate Chronograph of the early 1970s. Nicknamed the “Homeplate” due to the five-sided hour markers, the Heritage Chrono models are faithfully similar to the original versions.

Heritage Chrono watches (ref. 70330) have 42mm steel cases, two counters and a date window on the dial, and a pair of screw-down chronograph pushers. The bezels are marked with a 12-hour scale and fashioned from anodized aluminum. Dial options include black on grey, grey on black, and a popular opaline/ blue colorway nicknamed the “Montecarlo.” 

Royal

The Tudor Royal is the brand’s dressiest sports watch. The design of the Royal draws inspiration from 1970’s sports watches, complete with angular cases, integrated bracelets, and decorative bezels. The dials of the larger 41mm Royal watches are home to a pair of calendar windows to display the day and date while the smaller 28mm and 34mm models include only a date window. 

The Tudor Royal is a varied watch collection, including both full steel and two-tone models, in addition to the choice of fluted or diamond-set bezels. 

Tudor Classic Watches

In addition to sports watches, Tudor also offers a wide range of classic watches. Some of these Tudor Classic watches have dressier designs while others are simpler pieces that make excellent everyday watches. 

1926

Named after the year Tudor was founded, the 1926 is a line of elegant mechanical watches. Available in four sizes (28mm, 36mm, 39mm, and 41mm), in full steel or two-tone steel and gold, and with a wide assortment of dials, the Tudor 1926 is a varied collection of men’s and women’s watches. 

Glamour

The Glamour is Tudor’s collection of three dress watch models: Glamour Double Date, Glamour Date+Day, and Glamour Date. All Tudor Glamour models are offered in steel or two-tone steel and gold. 

The Glamour Double Date watches feature 42mm cases, transparent casebacks for a view of the in-house automatic movement, and a large date display in a double window at 12 o’clock. The Glamour Date+Day watches have 39mm cases and a pair of windows at 3 and 12 o’clock to indicate the date and day, respectively. The Glamour Date watches are available in 26mm and 36mm sizes, all featuring a date window at 3 o’clock. 

Claire de Rose

The Claire de Rose is Tudor’s collection of automatic women’s watches, available in three sizes (26mm, 30mm, and 34mm) and exclusively made in stainless steel. The dials all feature Roman numerals, and some include diamonds too. 

Style

The Style is Tudor’s collection of classic watches, inspired by 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s design codes. Tudor Style watches available in four sizes (28mm, 34mm, 38mm, and 41mm), produced in either full steel or two-tone steel and yellow gold. Additionally, some models are fitted with smooth bezels while others are topped with decorative fluted bezels.

Notable Patrons and Owners

Tudor watches are not only popular with watch enthusiasts but with celebrities too. For example, musician John Mayer and actors Will Smith, Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise have all been spotted wearing Tudor watches. Plus, singer Ed Sheeran famously ordered around 80 custom Tudor Bay Black watches to give to his crew after his global 2019 Divide Tour. 

Sponsorship & Collaborations 

Like its sibling brand Rolex, Tudor understands the power of sponsorships and collaborations. Tudor’s chief brand ambassador is soccer legend, David Beckham, who is almost never without a super cool Tudor (or Rolex) watch on his wrist. Tawainese star Jay Chou is also a Tudor brand ambassador and Lady Gaga served as one for a few years. 

Tudor is also a major sponsor in some sports, most notably rugby, cycling, surfing, freediving, and sailing. 

Tudor has also made some special watches in collaboration with select retailers. For instance, there’s the special edition Black Bay Harrod’s watch in a green colorway and the special edition Black Bay Bronze Bucherer in a blue colorway. 

Commonly Asked Questions About Tudor Watches

  1. Does Tudor make good watches? 
    Yes, Tudor makes very good watches. Built with high-grade materials and subject to rigorous quality control, Tudor’s Swiss-made watches are robust, precise, and reliable. Tudor designs are prized by watch fans everywhere thanks to an ideal blend of everyday practicality, recognizable aesthetics, and long-lasting durability. Additionally, Tudor has been manufacturing COSC-certified automatic movements since 2015. Since then, more and more Tudor watches are powered by in-house movements. 
  2. Do Tudor watches use Rolex movements?
    No, Tudor watches do not use Rolex movements. Although many vintage Tudor timepieces have Rolex-built (and signed) parts, such as cases, bracelets, and crowns, Rolex has never supplied Tudor with movements. Today, current-production Tudor watches are either powered by modified ETA movements or in-house-made Tudor manufacture calibers. 
  3. Do Tudor watches hold their value? 
    There are quite a few Tudor watches that hold their value well. Some pre-owned Tudor watches, particularly popular sports models like the Black Bay and Pelagos, sell for close to retail prices on the secondary market. What’s more, the value of certain vintage models like Tudor Submariners or “Homeplate” Oysterdate chronographs has increased tremendously in recent years. 
  4. Does Rolex Own Tudor?
    Not exactly, although some would say that’s the de facto situation. Technically, Tudor and Rolex are sister companies, both owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. The Tudor/Kenissi factory is located on Rolex-owned land, and some employees were even cross-trained to work for either Tudor or Rolex as needed.