In Part I of this epic story we focused on the French National Navy’s pivotal role in the development of the Tudor Submariner. The Marine Nationale issued watches are the most well known of Tudor MilSubs but, beyond this, it is also important to consider the significant amount of research, development and consultation that occurred between the French Navy and Montres Tudor SA. The purpose of this installment of the story is to explore other military forces that opted to issue their troops with Tudor Submariners.
“Why Tudors?” is both a good question and one that is impossible to answer definitively. Hans Wilsdorf bestowed upon Tudor watches three key elements – the automatic movement (which he had pioneered), the Oyster case and the full Rolex guarantee. To achieve this prestigious guarantee, Tudor watches had to be built to the same standards as their coroneted cousins. This was achievable in part because Tudor Subs were manufactured with many components used in Rolex Subs – cases, crowns, tubes, crystals, sealing gaskets and bezel assemblies. Aside from case engravings, the only discernable differences were the dials, hands and movements. This made Tudor dive watches very durable, reliable and, perhaps most importantly, very good value. Not all forces were as wealthy as the British MOD and so the Tudors were a more cost effective solution.
None of the Tudor MilSubs that have surfaced so far have discernable markings on the dials, unlike the Rolex British MilSub (which have a ‘T’ within a circle to denote the use of tritium on the dial and hands). The single identifiable feature of Tudor military watches is the casebacks – usually. The French Navy watches have MN engraved on the reverse of the watch, the South African watches the serial number, while other forces had unique stock codes engraved on them. The only notable exception to this rule is the Canadian issued watches, which we’ll look at later.