Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf created the Tudor brand in the 1920s with the intention of offering the same unparalleled quality as the Rolex brand but at a much more affordable price. For years, Tudor watches closely mirrored Rolex’s offerings and even utilized Rolex parts, such as the bracelets and Oyster case. However, Rolex’s sister company is stepping out of the shadow of the Big Crown and making a name for itself by producing more watch components in-house and embracing its own aesthetic apart from Rolex.
For as long as Tudor watches have been in production, collectors have pondered if they are as good as Rolex. The simple answer is yes. Tudor watches are just as good as Rolex and in no way inferior despite their humble beginnings as a more affordable alternative to Rolex. However, there is much to consider when comparing the “poor man’s Rolex” to the Big Crown.
Tudor Once Used Rolex Parts
Rolex is celebrated for its groundbreaking work in watchmaking, including the first waterproof wristwatch via the Oyster case in 1926 and the Perpetual movement with automatic winding technology released in 1931. By that logic, we can conclude that Tudor watches that utilize Rolex parts are just as good and reliable as Rolex watches. However, a few decades ago, Tudor started using Tudor-branded watch parts instead Rolex components. Well into the 2000s, Tudor distanced itself even further from Rolex with an official relaunch aimed at establishing its own identity on the entry-level luxury watch market and, in 2015, started to produce some movements in-house.
The Tudor Submariner ref. 94110 features the Rolex Oyster bracelet, Oyster case, and crown. Photo: Bob's Watches.
Tudor movements are arguably just as reliable as Rolex-made movements. They have similar power reserves and are held to same high standards of accuracy. Movements produced by both Tudor and Rolex are COSC-rated. At the same time, Rolex movements also have the distinction of a “Superlative Chronometer,” which is a standard established by Rolex for their own movements.
Rolex vs. Tudor in a Nutshell
Despite creating its own brand identity, the Tudor catalog still houses several models that resemble Rolex watches, such as the Tudor Royal with the day and date displayed on the dial like the Rolex Day-Date and the Black Bay GMT which looks very similar to the Rolex GMT Master. However, Rolex remains staunch in its commitment to the same design codes that have defined the brand since the early 1900s, while Tudor tends to embrace modern watch trends, such as neo-vintage design elements, non-metal straps, and different case materials such as titanium and ceramic. On the other hand, Rolex favors steel and precious metals, although we must give Rolex some credit as the company appears to be making more of an effort to stay in vogue, as we’ve seen with the release of the brand’s first full-titanium watch, the Yacht Master 226627, and their version of a rubber strap patented as Oysterflex.
Why Get a Tudor Instead of a Rolex?
Tudor is the more affordable option between the two brands. The Tudor catalog also has its own identity, apart from Rolex, that exudes a younger, more contemporary aesthetic without compromising the same quality that has defined both brands for a century.
The bronze Tudor Black Bay. Photo: Tudor.