It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed Tudor’s very first in-house movement in their completely new North Flag. How’s it held up?
Ah, the Tudor North Flag, one of the most talked about watches of 2015. At the time, this was an incredibly risky move for the brand, introducing not only a totally new model, but a display back, and even an in-house chronometer movement. Back then, no one, including me, knew what quite to expect from the watch. Of course, Tudor had access to Rolex’s R&D, but would the movement be any good? Was the watch destined to become an also-ran in an increasingly big sea of in-house powered watches or would it set itself apart and continue to be popular?
I’m pleased to say that the North Flag not only had staying power, but greatly increased in popularity since it was released. Some were put off by the power reserve complication, some were put off by the thought of an untested new movement, and some just found the yellow accents and integrated lugs to be too outlandish, but whatever the reason, those concerns seem to have fallen by the wayside. It’s now arguably the third most popular Tudor behind the Black Bay and Pelagos. You can find new threads about it weekly on the forums.
But this is no ordinary North Flag we’re looking at today. This is MY North Flag and I’ve worn the watch in these photos for well over a year. Thus, I’m bringing a lot more familiarity with the model than I ordinarily have in my reviews. The question that’s most often asked is about the movement: is it all it’s cracked up to be, have there been any disappointments, has it had any problems and so on are questions I see a few times a month on the forums.
Well, the answer to that is pretty clear. My North Flag has been completely trouble free and exceptionally accurate, rivaling my Omega and Grand Seiko. I particularly enjoy the long power reserve. Complaints from other in-house Tudor owners have also been very rare, rare enough to be basically disregarded in terms of the number of these movements sold in North Flags, as well as Pelagoses and Black Bays. Ordinarily we’d expect some teething issues in a totally new movement, but that’s just not what we’ve experienced with the MT series. Naturally, like literally all brands, a small number of watches will have an issue, but Tudor’s reliability has been exceptional so far.
One of the more controversial decisions made by Tudor is the use of a power reserve, in addition to their unusual choice to make it a rotating disk instead of a “real” hand. They’d made this call once before in the Tudor Heritage Advisor, where the alarm power reserve was a rotating disk, although it lacked the simulated hand. I think acceptance of this has grown over time, but I loved it from day one and I still love it today. Power reserves are the only complication that tells you something about the watch itself and, as such, it always makes the watch feel just a little bit more alive and communicative. I also like the rotating disk approach, both in terms of novelty but also insofar as it probably allows the watch to be marginally thinner.
The North Flag has proven to wear exceptionally well on my own wrist. It wants to stay right on top, unlike some other watches of mine that are always trying to escape to the outside of my wrist. Although slightly on the thick side, it’s a very a comfortable watch that I never find obtrusive. I actually got the OEM strap and clasp for it, as I generally prefer leather straps to bracelets, but it’s been so comfortable that even now, over a year later, I haven’t managed to put it on yet.
One pleasant, but often unreported, attribute is how smoothly the crown screws down. There’s no winding (winding the mainspring, that is) resistance in the screw down process, making me think that the crown decouples past a certain point. While I can’t promise that this will happen on your North Flag, the Shield logo on mine aligns quite nicely at a 90 degree angle when screwed down.
Because I’m a movement-centric watch fan, the North Flag represented a real turning point in my love for the brand. I already appreciated Tudor’s offerings, particularly their criminally overlooked Advisor, but the North Flag was the first Tudor that I personally had to have. Even then, I didn’t expect myself to be as fond of the watch as I ended up being.
It took a while, but ultimately, the North Flag ended up being the watch I wear almost all of the time. I’m not claiming it’s the best watch in the world or anything so hyperbolic. I’m not saying to throw out your Pateks and Grand Seikos to make room for the North Flag. I am saying that for me, the author, it has clicked in a very unique way. It started out, to me, as the vessel for a new movement and new era for Tudor, thus as something intellectually interesting, but it ended up being something much more important. Basically, great watch. Go get one.