Tudor Buyer’s Guide

Tudor is one of the most well-loved brands of Swiss watches and is best known for its watches intended for sports and adventure, like the popular Pelagos or Chrono Blue, as well as its close relationship with Rolex. Tudor has only recently returned to America from an extended sabbatical but it’s back and stronger than ever, featuring an extremely sophisticated in-house movement, new models and case components made not only from steel but titanium and ceramics as well. Read on to learn about every model Tudor offers for 2015 and what makes each special.

The North Flag

The Tudor North Flag is the brand’s newest model, and almost certainly its most advanced, but don’t be mistaken-it does have an extended history. The watch is inspired by both an event and a model in Tudor’s history.  The event was the 1952-54 British North Greenland Expedition where explorers wore Tudor Oyster Princes which impressively survived the harsh conditions. The model is a bit more obscure, but it’s actually the 1970s Ranger II that the North Flag borrows its basic look from. Where did the power reserve come from? Beats me, but I love power reserves, so I won’t ask too many questions.

Of course, the big story with the North Flag is that it’s the first of two models to receive Tudor’s new in-house movement, the MT5621 (the Pelagos receiving the similar MT5612). This is an incredibly advanced movement at an affordable price, but we’ll get into the details of this later in the movement section, and of course do a full review of it as soon as we have an example.

Stylistically, the watch resembles something of a Genta design with strong vintage looks. The 40mm size is going to be very versatile and it actually has a ceramic outer bezel to fend off scratches. It will be available on either a stainless steel bracelet or a matte black leather strap.

The Pelagos

The Tudor Pelagos is the brand’s premier diving watch and features, along with the North Flag, the company’s most advanced technology. In addition to being the only other Tudor watch to receive their new movement, in this case the date-only MT5612, it also features an extremely complex 42mm case that combines three different materials. The bezel is ceramic, the body is titanium, and the back is steel.  A triple waterproofness system and helium escape valve ensures a depth rating of 500 meters.

Stylistically, the Pelagos is a little more contemporary than the brand’s other diving watch, the Black Bay although it is does have a lot of history to it, thanks to the Snowflake hands and indices hailing back from Tudor watches of the late 1960s onwards. The predecessors of the watch were utilized in various naval capacities, primarily by the French navy, which contributes to both the pedigree of the model and to its uniqueness from Rolex offerings.

The Pelagos is available in two color motifs, blue dial/bezel/strap and black dial/bezel/strap. I like the blue myself. If I had to offer some constructive criticism to Tudor, it’d be to give the owner the option of a display case back–the MT5612 is worth looking at and that is currently only possible with the North Flag. That said, diving purists probably live in the opposite camp and are likely pleased with the decision to make the new Pelagos exclusively with a steel back.

The Ranger

The Tudor Ranger is part of the brand’s heritage collection and occupies something of a unique spot in the company’s history. The original Ranger was Tudor’s take on a utilitarian adventurer’s watch or military watch and is generally considered to be their equivalent to the Rolex Explorer. Interestingly, unlike other Tudor models, the Rolex model name was not adopted for the watch (as opposed to the Submariner, for instance).

Unorthodox origin aside, the Ranger is back and it has brought its classics looks with it–it is extremely similar to the original model from the ’60s. The 41mm case keeps it versatile and the future owner gets his choice of either a tobacco-colored leather strap, a bracelet or this bund. It’s my understanding that the camouflage strap will be included no matter which you opt for, which is a nice bonus.

Naturally, the watch is powered by the battle-proven ETA 2824-2 automatic. As an aside, I really like the old-school Tudor rose on the crown.

The Black Bay

The Tudor Black Bay is easily one of the brand’s most popular watches and it’s easy to see why-those vintage good looks. It takes a lot from the 1954 Tudor Submariner in addition to other historic Tudor divers over the years.

It’s still a serious diving watch though, rated for 200 meters, which is more than enough in the real world. At 41mm, like most Tudor watches, the size is very versatile and make it every-day wearable. Naturally, the watch is powered by the reliable ETA 2824-2.

The Black Bay is available in blue or red versions. The red Black Bay is the more vintage-inspired of the two, thanks in part to gold accents. This blue model is the more contemporary and my personal favorite, but then I have a thing for blue.

The Style

Tudor’s Style collection is one of Tudor’s lines of elegant dress watches. This versatile collection is available in four sizes, 28mm, 34mm, 38mm and 41mm, offering something for everyone, and also offers models in both gold and steel.

The Style line is clearly one of the most, if not the most, understated lines of Tudor watches and is ideal for dressier occasions, particularly with their beautiful lacquered dials.

Interestingly, at least for a dress watch, the crown screws down to protect its ETA 2824-2 with 100 meters of water resistance.

The Fastrider Chrono

The Fastrider Chrono is a recent addition to the Fastrider collection of super sporty chronographs. These new models, which come in three colors, are designed to match your new Ducati Scrambler bike. On a stylistic level, it really works–it’s a great fit for the simple, yet unabashed, youthful spirit of the Scrambler.

The 42mm case is really cool thanks to its black ceramic tachymetre bezel and matching black-coated crown and pusher accents. Quite impressive for an affordable chronograph, the Fastrider Chrono is capable of 150 meters WR.

The Fastrider Chrono uses the popular 7753 chronograph movement, which differs from the 7750 primarily in placement of subdials and the addition of a quickset date pusher, which is very convenient. It’s not just for Ducati fans, though-I think it also has a little bit of an aviation feel to it as well.

There are also additional stainless steel Ducati-inspired models like this red dial. I love how the strap matches the dial–a very nice touch.

There is also this fetching silver dial with subtle aquamarine accents on the dial. Tudor certainly has a versatile line of chronographs between the three Fastrider models, the Chrono Blue and the Heritage Chrono.

The date corrector on this 7753-powered watch is also very neat, as it’s a shield on the opposite side of the case. I expect that most people will think this is a helium escape valve.

The Fastrider Black Shield

The Fastrider Black Shield is the second 7753 powered chronograph from Tudor. The Fastrider Chrono, which we looked at before, is a little more playful in its design, while the Black Shield looks deadly serious thanks to its murdered out look.

The stealth bomber look isn’t just a fashion statement, however. It’s the product of an incredible monobloc ceramic case. This means that the case is nearly immune to scratching and it will keep that cool black look forever as it’s not just a coating that can be removed.

Interestingly, the Fastrider Black Shield bucks the trend of watchmakers lowering the water resistance of their all-ceramic models and actually features an above average 150 meter rating. I suspect that this may be the result of using a monobloc case.

The Chrono Blue

The Tudor Chrono Blue is, in my opinion, the best looking watch the company has ever made. It takes its inspiration from the 1973 Monte Carlo model and the resemblance is very easy to see with its bi-compax layout and bright blue and orange hues.

Unlike the various Fastrider chronographs, which are powered by 7753s, this one is actually a module on a 2892.

This chronograph is also rated for 150 meters of water resistance, very high for a non-diving chronograph. I really like the knurling on the bezel and crown and it reveals something a little interesting about the pushers–they can be locked down like a Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor Chronograph.

The Heritage Advisor

The Tudor Heritage Advisor is the company’s only alarm watch, which means that Tudor makes one more alarm watch than almost any other brand. I absolutely love how this one looks and the way the dial is set up–it’s a very easy to read alarm mechanism.

The dial features a power reserve that is exclusively for the alarm spring, which is wound separately. There’s an on/off subdial to let you know when the alarm is activated and what appears to be a GMT hand is actually the alarm pointer. A tasteful date subdial at 6 completes the vintage look.

The movement is based on the excellent ETA 2892 but the various complications are actually on an in-house module, which is pretty impressive given that these are unusual and sophisticated mechanisms. The 42mm case is mostly made from titanium for purposes of sound clarity.

The Claire De Rose

The Clair De Rose is a ladies-only collection that I dare say borders on haute horologie in terms of design. Most prominent of its features is the unusual, but captivating, rotating rose cutout in the middle, which is not merely window dressing but actually functions as a seconds hand.

Almost as interesting is the domed crystal crown which features a rose logo, the original symbol of Tudor. Interestingly for this style of watch, the crown screws down for 100 meters of water resistance. This is not the kind of watch I imagine seeing water very often, but it’s nice to have the security at least.

The inlaid mother of pearl dial is also remarkably beautiful.

The watch features a 26, 30 or 34mm case, great size options for ladies, and is powered by an ETA 2824.

The Grantour

The Tudor Grantour is the brand’s line of racing watches and features bold three handers and two different models of chronographs, all in versatile 42mm cases. This Grantour Date uses an ETA 2824 automatic and features a prominent bezel, the hallmark of the Grantour collection.

The Grantour line of watches is a bit of an oddity within Tudor as it has two entirely different chronographs. Here we see the Tudor Grantour Chrono, the 7753 powered model with a tri-compax layout. Interestingly, the date corrector on this model is actually on the bottom of a lug, keeping the outside appearance streamlined. The pushers on Grantour chronographs are lockable and the watch is rated for 150 meters of water resistance.

The other chronograph is this Grantour Chrono Fly-Back, which utilizes a 2892 and modular chronograph. The bi-compax layout makes this model easy to distinguish from the non-fly-back model. You might be asking yourself how a fly-back chronograph differs from a normal chronograph, and the answer is that it can be reset while it’s still running, as opposed to an ordinary chronograph which must be stopped and then reset. This complication makes it easier to time certain kinds of events, like lap times, which can be restarted every time the car crosses the finish line without interruption.

The Glamour

The Glamour line is Tudor’s more modern and, for the most part, more complex line of dress watches, featuring three handers, day dates and, my personal favorite, grand (or double) dates.

The Glamour line has a ladies automatic at just 26mm. Available in either steel or two-tone gold, the watch is powered by the tiny ETA 2671 automatic, but it’s also available in 31mm with an ETA 2824.

The Date & Day model features an ETA 2834 and is in a slightly smaller size at 39mm, which suits its dressy character quite well.

My personal favorite is the double date, powered by an ETA 2892 with a module for the complication. Double dates are always easy to read but there’s more to this model than the complication–I particularly like the rose motif in the seconds subdial, an homage to Tudor’s early logo.

The Heritage Chrono

The Tudor Heritage Chrono is inspired by the early Oysterdate Chronographs of the 1970s and offers a very cool alternative to the Chrono Blue.

I really like the home plate accents (shields around the perimeter that resemble baseball bases) and the strap that’s inspired by a seatbelt. This 42mm model, like the other bi-compax Tudors, is powered by an ETA 2892 with chronograph module.

The Classic

The Tudor Classic line of watches are a group of date and day-date watches that bear a powerful resemblance to their Rolex brethren, the Datejust and Day Date. The day date model, of course, uses the ETA 2834 while the date only uses a 2824. A ladies version uses the very small 2671.

The New Movements

The most exciting news out of Tudor this year was the introduction of a family of extremely advanced new movements from which we will be seeing two examples of, one in the North Flag, the MT5621 and one in the upcoming Pelagos (replacing the current ETA option), the MT5612–a confusing pair of names, to be sure, but let’s dive in and see what makes them so interesting.

For starters, the MT 5612/21 movements are genuinely fully in-house, and that’s quite a shocker if you’ve been a long time fan of Tudor. The close relationship of Rolex and Tudor is well documented, but up until this year, the easiest way to explain the difference between the two watches is that Rolex, at least modern Rolex, universally uses its famous in-house movements while Tudor always uses high-quality outsourced movements from ETA. The lines are now blurrier than ever because these new movements not only have a strong family resemblance to what I must presume are Rolex predecessors, I’d argue that it’s the more advanced movement, at least on paper.

The MT56XX is basically a list of high-end watch making features–a free sprung balance, a full balance bridge, an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring, an extended power reserve of 70 hours–it’s an impressive combination, to be certain. Noteworthy is the fact that it beat Rolex to the punch on silicon hairsprings, at least in movements intended for men’s watches, and that it has a better power reserve than almost all Rolexes (excepting the Daytona, the upcoming 3255 and the rectangular 7040). This is where I’m supposed to go “but it’s not a chronometer” or something like that–but it is a chronometer. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any weakness against a Rolex movement, or virtually any other movement for that matter.  I’m looking forward to watchmakers, who are far more intelligent than I, tearing this down and comparing it to the legendary 3135 and maybe that will reveal something to me, but right now, when we only have a spec sheet to look at, it seems pretty amazing.  I want one.

Currently, the MT56XX has two variants. The North Flag has the MT5621, which adds a power reserve complication, while the Pelagos will soon be receiving the MT5612, identical in every way, sans the power reserve. It is unlikely that we’ll see more ETA movements replaced by these in-house versions in the near future as Tudor appears to prefer a stratified approach, keeping plenty of models affordable while saving its movement for flagships. That said, the North Flag is surprisingly affordable, and the Pelagos’ price increase was nominal and not out of line with the sort of yearly price increase you’d get even if there were no upgrades. I feel that they’re excellent values and I can’t wait to review them.

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