Over the last eight or so years, Tudor has been on the move to make some really great watches. They have gone from complete obscurity to a leader in the watch world again in that nine year period. Every watch collector knew that Tudor existed during its hiatus from US jewelers offerings and that Rolex was still making Tudor branded watches. It was offered in extremely limited markets up until 2013 when Tudor came back to the US market (and most of the world).
We are going to have some fun and take a look at two watches that you really could not find here in the US but may have been able to pick up before its triumphant return in 2013.
Let’s start with the Tudor Hydronaut II. I start with this reference: 20030, since to me it was a wonderful watch that was just so far out there from a design perspective...that I love it. If you are reading this, you probably know about the Rolex Submariner and how for many years between the 1960s and into the 1990s Tudor used Rolex cases, crowns, bezels, bracelets, etc. to make dive watches. They did not use Rolex dials, hands and movements however and chose to use their own designed ones. Specifically on the movement front, they used an off the shelf movement from the famed ETA movement manufacturer. The Hydronaut lines went completely in a different direction and are their own designs completely. They are a unique cushion case design that has these amazing curves.
The case is 41 mm wide, and the lug width is 21 mm (sounds somewhat familiar to the new Submariner….hmmm.) The bracelet options are a rubber strap, a jubilee style bracelet and an oyster style bracelet. The bezel is a single piece of steel and is engraved with the numbers and markers instead of the traditional aluminum bezel insert of its Tudor predecessors. The watch hands are stick hands, and there isn't any cyclops for the date. Lastly, the watch is powered by a very well decorated ETA 2824. The movements that were used in all Tudor time and date watches until recently when Tudor released their own in-house movement. I have owned a similar reference, the 20020 known just as the Tudor Sport. I love it. The flat caseback and comfortable bracelet makes it a joy to wear. Additionally, they are seen online in the second hand market for between $1600-$3000 depending on the condition. Since it was a limited sales market Tudor was fulfilling it is extremely unlikely that you will see one at your local watch club. If you are looking for a fun Tudor that really no one had, look no farther then the Tudor Hydronaut II.
Another piece that really never made it to mass appeal is the Tudor Aeronaut, reference 20200. Way before the Tudor Black Bay GMT, this watch with the same design aesthetic as the Tudor Hydronaut II and Tudor Sport really speaks to me. You will notice the date is in a sub-dial at the six o’clock portion of the dial. The fixed twenty four hour bezel is again one solid piece of steel that is engraved and looks reminiscent of the Rolex GMT of the sixties. The watch again came on quite a few bracelet and strap options including even a few leather variations. The movement is based off of ETA 2893 series that I believe Tudor may have modified and decorated to make their own. One area that really is cool is all of the color and finish options on the dials.
There are quite a few dial options that came about during the years it was produced, but my favorite is the black background and unique hand set that is shown below. I really like how it plays off of the inspiration of old and new Rolex and Tudor designs. I could do without the name “AERONAUT AUTOMATIQUE” on the center of the watch dial, but I still really think this aesthetic is unique and telling of Tudor during the time before they went back into history to develop the oh so popular Black Bay series that is now the core product of the brand.
I hope you have enjoyed our little adventure in turning back the clock to before Tudor became an incredibly popular arm of the Rolex world again. I know that these watches may not fetch the interest like the Black Bay and Pelagos lines, but they sure are fun.