Since 2015, Tudor has been producing watches that are powered by its own in-house movements, but the brand still offers a number of different timepieces that use off-the-shelf calibers. Some of the biggest discussion points in the debate between in-house and generic movements surround issues regarding parts supply and repair options, but how easily can you have one of Tudor’s in-house movements serviced and can it be done by an independent watchmaker?
The Downside of In-House Watch Movements
In-house movements are often celebrated by collectors and enthusiasts for their performance, innovation, and exclusivity. However, exclusivity can often be a double-edged sword when it comes to having your watch repaired or serviced.
When you own a watch with an in-house movement, you are (more-or-less) reliant on the single brand who created it for all replacement parts that you may need in the future. Additionally, you may also even be stuck with the manufacturer for the actual service process itself due to constraints on the supply of replacement parts or a lack of availability for technical training and proprietary tools.
Shortly after rolling out its own in-house calibers, Tudor quietly implemented a new practice where watches submitted for service and repairs would have their movements swapped out for refurbished ones. The reasoning for this practice was likely multi-faceted: not only would it streamline the service process itself, but Tudor would also be able to fully inspect the worn movements to learn why they failed and how the different components wear over time. However, not everyone wants to have their movement replaced, and this brings up the question as to whether or not Tudor’s in-house calibers can be serviced by independent watchmakers.
Can You Service a Tudor In-House Movement with an Independent Watchmaker?
The simple answer to the question regarding whether or not an independent watchmaker is able to service a Tudor in-house movement is yes - with the one caveat pertaining to heavily damaged watches that might need a significant number of replacement parts.
On a basic level, Tudor’s in-house calibers are incredibly similar to many other watch movements, and there is nothing that makes them different to the extent where they cannot be serviced by a skilled professional watchmaker. However, sometimes watches need to have parts replaced in order to be restored to full-function, and here lies the main issue for independent watchmakers servicing Tudor movements.
Just like its parent company Rolex, Tudor keeps a tight control over the supply of its replacement parts and doesn’t just let the average person order whatever they want. I spoke to a few different local watchmakers and parts supply houses; however, none of them are able to purchase replacement parts directly from Tudor. With that in mind, all of them told me that there existed a number of work-arounds, and unless it was a heavily damaged timepiece, a repair by a competent independent watchmaker would likely be a viable option.
Work-Arounds and the Definition of “In-House”
When it comes to how an independent watchmaker might source parts without being able to purchase them directly from Tudor, the most obvious method would be to buy whatever is needed on the open market. A quick search through eBay will reveal that there are quite a few sellers that offer genuine Tudor movement components, and I can only imagine that most professional watchmakers would have a number of additional sources for watch parts beyond websites like eBay and the various forums.
However, one additional point worth considering is what the term “in-house” actually means in regards to Tudor watch movements. Unlike Rolex, Tudor’s in-house calibers are manufactured by Kenissi, and the joint-venture movement manufacturer also produces in-house calibers for Chanel, Breitling, and Norqain. As you might imagine, certain components are shared across similar movement designs, and this can significantly increase a watchmaker’s ability to source genuine replacement parts.
Given that Tudor now offers a 5-year warranty on its watches (regardless of whether or not they have in-house movements), you will likely want to send any problematic timepieces back to Tudor for the first half-decade to avoid being charged for the cost of repairs. However, once you get beyond that point and will be paying out of pocket anyway, it is really up to you as to whether you want to have Tudor or an independent watchmaker service your timepiece. With that in mind, unless you severely damage your watch, you will likely still have the option of using an independent service provider. At the end of the day, no in-house caliber will ever be able to rival a generic ETA-based design when it comes to ease of serviceability, but Tudor’s in-house movements can be repaired by independent watchmakers, provided that they have access to the necessary replacement parts.
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*All images courtesy of Tudor