Tudor may not be a name familiar to you, but it should be because it makes some really lovely women’s watches that won’t obliterate your pay cheque. We give some reasons why you should invest now.
It’s been around for longer than you think. By the mid-1940s the public’s fascination with beautifully made wristwatches was at fever-pitch, but not everyone could afford something in the Rolex price bracket. The man who understood this better than anyone was Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, who made the savvy move to launch a new, more accessible, brand. The result was Tudor.
Pieces crafted under the Tudor banner were made with equal care and attention to detail as their Rolex counterparts, but non-precious materials and out-sourced movements reduced costs considerably making this an appealing brand for people to buy into.
A 1977 Tudor Oyster Prince
It has a British connection most people don’t know about. You’d be forgiven for thinking Tudor is an unusually British name for German-born Wilsdorf to choose. In fact, he was a self-confessed anglophile, having relocated to London in 1905. Evidence of his passion for British culture can also be seen in the names given to Rolex’s collections, such as Prince, Windsor and Princess. When he was looking for a name for his new brand English history provided the answer.
A 1995 Tudor Oyster Prince on sale now at Watchfinder
It’s not just about Rolex. When Tudor first launched it understandably made the most of its connection to Rolex. Its new pieces had the same name as Rolex’s and were made with the same high standards but, thanks to the use of ETA rather than in-house movements, without the same price tag.
However, it didn’t take long for Tudor to make its mark on the watch world away from the gaze of its sibling. Its diver’s watch was quickly adopted by the Israeli naval commandos, followed by the French naval divers and the US elite combat divers. Its European customers were also giving it the thumbs up for its chronographs, which captured the feel of the 1970s with their vibrant colour combinations and oversized cases.
As with many brands, the Quartz Crisis combined with the devaluation of the US dollar, was to have a major effect. The result was a retreat from the limelight and a separation from Rolex. When Tudor resurfaced in the 1990s, it was as a stand-alone proposition with its own distinct style.
Tudor Ladies watch from 1946, available from Vintage Watches Collection
It makes really great women’s watches too, despite not shouting enough about it. One of the areas where Tudor’s individual style can be seen is in its women’s watches, which have been part of its collection from the brand’s inception, which is surprising considering the male-centric history the brand is often given.
An early example is the Tudor Oyster (see above), a superb functional timepiece that wasn’t truly appreciated when it was launched, probably due to trends at the time favouring more delicate, feminine styles, but which certainly is highly desirable now.
This didn’t stop the brand from continuing to push the boundaries, especially in its feminine Clair de Rose collection which featured a spinning rose second hand.
Tudor Glamour Date, white dial with diamonds, violet lizard strap
Similarly, its Tudor Glamour range, launched in 2009, mixes the precious with the pedestrian when it comes to materials – think diamonds set in steel and steel cosying up to gold (top feature image is the Glamour Date+Day, white dial, black leather strap). Its current offering, the limited edition Glamour Date Violet Lizard (exclusive to Selfridges, London) celebrates its classically elegant aesthetic with striking contemporary touches. Deservedly, Tudor is now making timepieces to be coveted by women of this generation.
Talk of the town. It may have been a brand that was started in the interests of democratic watch wearing, but Tudor has become a brand that is not only desirable in its own right, but one that marks out the wearer as someone discerning who doesn’t plump for the obvious.
It’s men’s launches, including the Heritage Black Bay and North Flag, which houses its first in-house movement, have certainly got everyone talking, and its women’s pieces, such as the gorgeous Glamour collection, looks set to do the same.
Now you want to buy one, don’t you?
Tudor Glamour Date+Day, black dial with diamonds, black crocodile strap