Given the lack of popular steel sport models available new for retail at Rolex authorized dealers, we want to shine the light on what great watches are available when it comes to that coveted category.
If you can embrace the secondhand market, take a look at Tudor chronographs born in the mid-1990s. This era, prior to the North American relaunch in 2007, was a time where the company’s design borrowed more from Rolex design cues, yet maintained a distinctive enough look to differentiate the watches from their more expensive counterparts.
Photo by The Watch Club
For example, the Prince Date Chronograph, reference 79260, running a Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement, features a Tachymeter bezel, date complication with a magnifying lens and was made with a black dial as well as white dial with black inner dials (panda dial). The version released in 1996, the Tudor Prince Oysterdate 7920 was offered in a silver dial with cream-colored counters. The 79260 can be purchased from between $4,000-$8,000, depending on the condition.
Photo by Craft + Tailored
The Tudor "Big Block” Chronograph series, born in 1976, featured a bi-directional 12-hour bezel and also came in a tachymeter bezel. These watches were also powered by a Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement and predate the Daytona as the first Rolex-family watch to feature an automatic chronograph movement. We like the versions with a 12-hour bezel, so you get a simple dual-time-zone function alongside a simple design that emits pure functionality. Here you also get the cyclops date display, an attribute that is very useful to many.
According to Tudor, the “Big Block” nickname was derived from the watch’s case shape: “While their cases retained the general lines of the previous families, they became thicker to accommodate the rotor of the self-winding movement, which earned them the nickname ‘Big Block’ in collectors’ circles. The name ‘Big Block; endured in the following 79100 series introduced in 1989, which featured only minimal modifications.”
Photo by Craft + Tailored
What’s great about adding any of these earlier Tudor chronographs to your collection is that you can get a great example at a fraction of the price of what Daytona models are commanding these days. And the Tudor models showcase that chunky utilitarian look that tool watch aficionados are after. With multiple dial variants and feature configurations, you can be patient and hunt for your own personal ideal. We gravitate towards the panda dial variants with a 12-hour bezel for its practicality and standout look.
If these watches are of interest to you, we advise that you purchase one now before the prices rise. Not that long ago, we could purchase sought-after five-digit Rolex references at reasonable prices, but today they are almost double the price of what they were selling back then. We don’t see any slowdown in Tudor’s popularity, so take action now if you want in on an earlier period Tudor chronograph.Shop our collection of straps for Tudor watches here.