The turning point came in March 2015 when Tudor introduced its caliber MT5621, the very first in-house manufacture caliber from the sub-brand of Rolex. The new in-house movement came inside of its North Flag model, a decidedly modern decision with a bracelet/strap integration to the case, modern typography and bold yellow accents.
Prior to the introduction of the North Flag, Tudor had primarily used ETA movements, common Swatch Group-owned Swiss automatic movements that kept costs down and translated into Tudor being able to offer Rolex-level build quality at a more affordable price.
Photo courtesy of Time and Tide Watches
When Tudor reemerged in the North American market in 2014, it was an attempt to carve its own brand identity and come out of the shadows of Rolex. Prior to the repositioning, Tudor was a quandary for customers visiting the watch store.
As Hodinkee managing editor Steven Pulivurent explained to the New York Times, “(Tudor) was sold mostly through Rolex dealers. Two watches that look similar, but one was $1,000 and the other was $6,000. People didn’t understand why.”
Photo courtesy of Tudor
In 2020, it’s safe to say that the repositioning of the brand has been a resounding commercial success. The well-embraced Tudor Black Bay 58 model can be as hard to purchase new from an authorized dealer as steel Rolex sport watches. Lady Gaga and David Beckham are brand ambassadors. Tudor releases are just as anticipated by enthusiasts as its esteemed parent company, Rolex.
Two of the most popular sport watches, the Black Bay and Pelagos started with ETA movements and have since been replaced by in-house calibers.
Throwback or regression?
With the introduction of the Tudor Royal line in late September, Tudor went back to its ETA movement roots with a line of watches closely resembling Rolex Day-Date models and price point around $2,000.
Photo courtesy of Monochrome Watches
Some members of the very vocal watch enthusiastic community complained that Tudor shouldn’t be heading in a direction that is a nod to their past. While the new Royal line does ape Rolex design attributes, it’s very intentional and quite acceptable (in our opinion) to borrow cues from within its own family.
The Everest Journal team firmly believes that high-quality watches at a more affordable price point is a good move for everyone. If someone with an interest in mechanical watches knows of Rolex, the most well-known watch brand in the world, they can get a taste of the famed house’s quality through Tudor. In our experience, Tudor watches at all levels can stand on their own. Cohesive collections can easily encompass both brands and some attributes that Tudor offer just aren’t available in the Rolex lineup. For instance, the Tudor Pelagos is the only titanium case in the entire family.
We love that the Royal watches use engine-turned bezels (like certain vintage Datejust models) and feature drilled-through lug holes, which Rolex no longer offers in new models.
These attributes are not only a tribute to the past, Tudor allows consumers to experience the charm of vintage Rolex watches with modern durability. And that is a win.