Ever since Tudor’s global relaunch in 2009, vintage-inspired designs have played an increasingly prominent role in the brand’s catalog. The very first retro-themed watches started to appear almost immediately with the 2010 release of the Heritage Chrono. However, vintage-inspired models didn’t become the majority of Tudor’s catalog until several years ago with the proliferation of the Black Bay collection.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Tudor, and I thoroughly enjoy many of its vintage-inspired watches. The brand’s archives are packed full of interesting and noteworthy references, and revisiting some of its most successful designs simply makes sense. With that in mind, Tudor is capable of far more than just being an echo chamber of its past, and I can’t help but feel as though the brand is not giving enough attention to the modern side of its catalog.
What Tudor Watches Aren’t Vintage Inspired?
Although vintage-inspired designs have been a major presence in Tudor’s catalog for the last decade, the brand has also produced numerous other watches that were unmistakably modern in terms of their overall aesthetics. However, while Tudor’s vintage-inspired Black Bay range has continued to grow over the years, many of the brand’s models with modern designs such as the North Flag and Fastrider Chrono have all been discontinued. So, what current-production Tudor watches still offer a modern aesthetic?
The Pelagos is probably the prime example of what Tudor can do when it decides to create a thoroughly modern and highly capable sports watch. Although it does have snowflake hands (a trait frequently associated with vintage Tudor dive watches), I don’t think anyone would consider the Pelagos itself to be a vintage-inspired timepiece. With its titanium construction and ceramic bezel, the Tudor Pelagos is an unmistakably modern watch, but the design of it still feels incredibly true to the history of the Tudor brand. Rather than emulating a vintage aesthetic, the Pelagos is the modern version of Tudor’s classic dive watch.
Other than the Pelagos, the only Tudor watches that aren’t vintage-inspired are a couple of the brand’s dress models. However, many of its dress watches even have vintage design elements, while other models like the Tudor Royal look like something straight out of the 1970s. Tudor’s history is full of fantastic timepiece designs, but the brand’s modern identity is becoming increasingly less defined the further it leans into its past.
Image: Time+Tide Watches
Too Many Tudor Black Bay Watches
First appearing in 2012, the Black Bay collection has been a runaway success for Tudor, and it has expanded into an entire lineup of models that includes a variety of different case sizes, materials, and compilations. For years, Tudor has continued to introduce new additions to the Black Bay collection, and it almost seems as though half of Tudor’s current catalog is now some type of Black Bay.
The original Tudor Black Bay was a dive watch, but the collection now includes a number of substantially different models such as chronographs, sport/field watches, and even a GMT. All Tudor Black Bay watches share similar core design elements such as snowflake hands and a highly-legible dial with geometric hour markers. However, the identity of the collection itself is now a bit murky given the number of different types of watches that belong to the greater Tudor Black Bay lineup.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Black Bay and I firmly believe that Tudor should keep it as a core part of the catalog. However, at this point in time, I’d rather see some additional variations of the Pelagos or have Tudor bring back the North Flag, which was another excellent example of a thoroughly modern Tudor sports watch.
Image: Ace Jewelers
What Is Tudor’s Modern Brand Identity?
Tudor has every right to celebrate its past, but part of the reason why the brand seems to shy away from modern watch designs might be because Tudor is struggling to figure out its present-day identity. Although Tudor was founded way back in 1926, it has only been a little over a decade since its global re-launch, and the company might be still figuring out exactly where it fits into both the luxury watch industry and the greater landscape of popular culture.
For most of its history, Tudor was largely seen as just Rolex’s sibling company, but now the brand is finally getting a chance to forge its own identity. However, creating a global brand with a coherent image can often take a while and producing watches inspired by the past is an easy way for Tudor to remain true to its history, without actually having to move forward from a design standpoint.
All things considered, Tudor has too much potential to be a brand that only looks to its past for designs. Watches such as the Pelagos, North Flag, and fully-ceramic Fastrider Chrono are proof that the brand is capable of producing thoroughly modern timepieces, and I would personally love to see Tudor make more of these modern creations. At the end of the day, vintage-inspired watches are fantastic but rarely do they push the boundaries of design. Creating something entirely new is difficult - and it’s certainly a bigger risk, but the watch industry needs modern designs because they are the ones that truly write history.