There isn’t a no-brainer victor in this category, because the market is rich with killer bargains. Dozens of brands offer candidates that represent such good buys as to obviate the need to lust after anything costlier. Tudor, however, has proven yet again that it has all the elements that define the year’s hottest “best buy.”
At the risk of displeasing Rolex, or — to put it another way — upsetting a parent whose once-underperforming child has ascended rapidly to undreamed-of heights, it must be said that Tudor truly is to Rolex what Porsche’s Cayman is to the 911. The analogy is bomb-proof: the distinction between Cayman and 911 is identical to the difference between Oysters from Tudor and its progenitor. Aficionados of either car or watch understand and respect the disparity, which has been carefully honed by both.
With the Black Bay GMT, selling for £2,790 in the UK on a steel bracelet, Tudor is offering a perfect proxy for one of the world’s true classics to those who cannot afford a watch at over twice that price: the Rolex GMT-Master II. The Tudor, too, exudes a whiff of the past which the current GMT-Master II does not, as it must adhere to current Rolex design language.
For many, this retro mien is hugely desirable. The Tudor is more redolent of the first-generation GMT-Master of 1955 than is the GMT-Master II because it has no crown guards, wears a rivet-look, stepped-link Oyster bracelet and sports a “Pepsi-Cola” bezel with an older-looking font than is found on current Rolex sport models. Another nice touch is the lack of a “Cyclops” lens over the date, a nod to the original Sea-Dweller.
Whether or not you need a two-timezone watch is down to your lifestyle. But that won’t stop legions of watch lovers from coveting a GMT just because it’s a fabulous timepiece that looks so cool as to defy fashion. For the money, this is to Thomas Magnum’s GMT-Master what the all-new FIAT 124 roadster is to his Ferrari 308 GTS. If you love the Rolex but it’s out of reach, Tudor has answered your prayers.