Only Watch: Tudor Prince Chronograph One “Big Block”

Tudor Big Block Chronograph 2023 Only Watch

While all of the attention is on Tudor’s newest release, the black Pelagos FXD, the company had another relatively recent release that caught my eye: the Prince Chronograph for Only Watch 2023. With its 18k yellow gold construction, retro design, and brand-new in-house chronograph movement, there’s plenty to love with this one-off Tudor watch. Let’s dig into the details. 

The Tudor Prince Chronograph Back Story

Tudor 7032

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In 1970, Tudor released its first chronograph watch called the Oysterdate, which as its name implies had a water-resistant Oyster case and a date indication (complete with a Cyclops magnifier.) However, much like its sibling Rolex, Tudor’s initial chronograph offering was a manually wound one, powered by the Valjoux Caliber 7734. They released this watch under two references: the ceramic-bezeled 7031 and steel-bezeled 7032, the latter pictured above.

Following a few iterations of its hand-wound chronographs, Tudor released its first automatic chronograph watch in 1976 in the form of the Prince Oysterdate. Similar to Rolex’s “Perpetual,” in Tudor-speak “Prince” denotes a self-winding movement. Interestingly, the watches did not initially include “Prince Oysterdate” anywhere on the dials but rather “Automatic Chrono Time” or “Chrono Time,” and the watches ran on automatic Valjoux Caliber 7750 movements. Thanks to the new movement, the Prince Oysterdate models were not only thicker than their predecessors (to accommodate the rotor) but the dial also had to be rearranged whereby three counters were placed at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock rather than just two counters at 3 and 9. The thickness of the Prince Oysterdate chronographs paved the way for the “Big Block” nickname. 

Tudor continued to produce the Prince Oysterdate “Big Block” chronographs in a variety of executions until the early 1990s when the collection was replaced with the fourth series Prince Chronographs. 

The 2023 Tudor Prince Chronograph “Big Block”

Tudor Oyster Prince Big Block Chronograph

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For the 2023 Only Watch charity auction that raises funds for research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Tudor reached into its archives and gave us a precious metal version of its 1970s “Big Block” Prince Chronograph. While the watch retains the familiar silhouette, dial arrangement, and bezel style of vintage automatic Tudor chronographs, there are plenty of updates too. First, there’s the 18k yellow gold 42mm case and three-link bracelet (with the practical T-fit” clasp), which for a brand that’s known for its more affordable range of predominantly steel and sometimes gold-capped watches, is a big deal. Solid yellow gold watches are typically Rolex’s forte, not Tudor. That case includes screw-down chronograph pushers and winding crown, also in solid gold, along with a gold bezel with a black aluminum bezel insert with the prerequisite tachymeter scale. 
Tudor Oyster Prince Big Block Chronograph Only Watch 2023

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Matching the black bezel is a black lacquered dial with sunken gold registers, hour markers, and hands. As expected, registers are positioned at 6, 9, and 12, along with the date window (sans Cyclops lens) at 3 o’clock. Zoom in on the dial and you’ll spot the “PRINCE CHRONOGRAPH” inscription arching over the 6 o’clock subdial. In addition to all the glorious gold and black exterior, what’s inside the watch is pretty exciting too. 
Tudor In-House Caliber Big Block Chronograph

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Powering the Tudor Prince Chronograph One is the manufacture chronograph Caliber MT59XX, which is a prototype movement’ in the development process. It features a column-wheel construction, offers a 70-hour power reserve, boasts a tolerance range of 6 seconds (-2/+4), and includes a Kenissi signature. According to the brand, “Kenissi markings are not found on standard production Tudor watches, instead it’s specifically reserved for development phase movements.” As you may already know, Kenissi is the movement maker majority-owned by Tudor, minority-owned by Chanel, and a supplier of caliber for other watch brands too. 

A Future Tudor Prince Chronograph Comeback?

Tudor Oyster Prince Big Block Gold Chronograph Only Watch 2023

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Like all watches donated to Only Watch, this Tudor Prince Chronograph One, which has an estimate of CHF 25,000 - 35,000 is a one-off piece. 

However, looking beyond the charity event that will take place this November, this vintage reissue with a prototype movement likely signals the return of the Prince Chronograph to the Tudor catalog soon. Let’s not forget that Tudor’s 2015 Black Bay One donation (which sold for CHF 375,000!) paved the way for the release of the similar-looking Heritage Black Bay Black ref. 79220N a few months later. Plus, the Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One in 2019 was the precursor of the METAS-certified Black Bay Ceramic that debuted in 2021. 

I’ll be honest; when Tudor teased a new release earlier this month, I was sure it was going to be a new range of Prince Chronograph “Big Block” watches. Looks like I’ll have to wait a little while longer until that happens – it (almost) certainly will. 

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