Despite the popularity of many vintage Rolex models, Rolex avoids “reissues” of their past watches. While they occasionally include nods to their history–like the big orange hand of the modern Explorer II or the lightning hand of the last Milgauss–it’s less risky for Rolex’s sister brand, Tudor, to make overtly retro watches. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing: the Heritage Chrono, Ranger and Black Bay are all directly based on Tudors of yesteryear. The Tudor Royal lineup released in 2020, however, isn’t exactly a reissue of any particular model, but rather a general reinterpretation of some vintage Rolex/Tudor design cues. Here’s my review of the Tudor Royal ref. 28600–the largest size (41mm) steel Royal, and the only one with a day complication. After two years of ownership, the Royal Day-Date has proven to be an excellent watch for its $2,525 price.
Visual Appearance of the Tudor Royal 28600
The integrated bracelet and bold engine-turned bezel are the most distinctive design elements of the Tudor Royal. The 28600 model is the spiritual successor to the blocky, unloved Tudor Classic Date+Day 23010. The angular yet sleek case shape of the Royal visually transitions nicely to the bracelet. This five-link style of bracelet, with thin second and fourth links, first appeared on Tudors in 1997 and was known as the “Prince Bracelet.” Nowadays Tudor merely seems to call it a “five-link bracelet.”
The large, generously-lumed hands provide excellent legibility in any light. The day and date wheels are well-aligned in their windows–maybe not Grand Seiko levels of precision alignment, but good–and overall the watch looks the business.
Tudor Royal 41mm Specs
|Tudor Caliber T603 (Sellita base, automatic, 8 beats per second)
|Integrated five-link stainless steel bracelet
On the Wrist
Tudor really nailed the sunburst blue color of the dial, and the applied Roman numerals are an interesting homage to the typeface Rolex used for Roman numerals a century ago. In addition to being a pleasure to look at, the 41mm Tudor Royal has a nice solid feel on the wrist, without being overly thick. Due to the flat slab-like caseback, it can slide up and down over the wrist bone more than you’d like, especially if it’s not sized well. The lack of adjustability on the almost-hidden clasp isn’t ideal, but the links are small enough that you should be able to get a good fit. The bracelet itself feels good, and the polished machined clasp curves comfortably for my wrist.
However, my main gripe with this watch is the non-Swiss-made clasp. On some Tudors, the clasp will say “Tudor Geneve, Swiss Made” but this notably only says “Tudor Geneve.” The first “click” of the two-click clasp folding process feels a tad mushier than when it was new. The second and more important “click” is still robust, fortunately. After two years, the winding still feels good and the timekeeping is close to perfect, losing a second or two per day in real-life conditions. In fact, this Tudor Royal could go head-to-head with watches triple the price in many regards–just not the clasp.
Pros and Cons of the Tudor Royal Day-Date
|Great timekeeping (well within COSC specs)
|Slab-like back (might be more comfortable with more curve/taper)
|Looks (The case, bezel and dial all look excellent)
|Clasp (No adjustability, not Swiss-made, closure feels less “crisp” over time)
|Power reserve (38 hours is on the low side nowadays, although it’s not a big deal in real life)
|Legibility (Hands are very easy to read)
Tudor says the movement inside the 41mm Royal is a “T603 with chronometer performance,” meaning it’s not certified as a chronometer but it should perform like one. And indeed, after two years of being worn in rotation, the Sellita-based movement is still well within COSC specs:
Tudor Royal 28600 2-Year Timegrapher Results
|Top lugs up
|Bottom lugs up
Tudor Royal 41 Review: In Conclusion
Overall, the Tudor Royal ref. 28600 is a solid value proposition at its list price of $2,525, and used examples can sometimes be found for under $2,000. It’s a tough watch that can be worn every day, or be an interesting part of a collection. Despite its less-than-perfect clasp, the Royal wouldn’t look out of place in a box of $5,000-$15,000 watches. Although some might scoff at the movement for being “just” a Sellita, its timekeeping results speak for themselves–plus there are no worries about future serviceability. If you want a unique but classy sports watch in the sub-$3,000 tier, the Tudor Royal 41mm is well worth a look.