No period, no zeitgeist, has seen a watch brand so eagerly courted, fervently loved by both new and veteran collectors as is the case today with Tudor. In less than half a decade, the brand has emerged from being the more-affordable Rolex to the cool, cutting-edge sibling at the height of desirability. And in almost every discourse had, its meteoric rise has been attributed to a formula that is seemingly mystical — pegged as a brand that has that unquantifiable quality, or “the X factor”.
In an attempt to demystify the brilliance of Tudor, we’ll start off by stating a truth that inheres in human nature: everyone loves an underdog. Right from the outset, stood next to the crowned king of watchmaking, Tudor was predestined to be the comparatively inferior sibling in order to reach a wider audience. For the first 40 years after it was first launched in 1945, Tudor watches were crouched in the shadows of their Rolex siblings. Rolex made watches with Oyster cases, so did Tudor; Rolex launched automatic watches with day and date displays, so did Tudor; Rolex created diving watches, and so did Tudor.
However, the Tudor we have today is a universe away from what it was. Here is a brand that capers in the limelight of Rolex and advances further and beyond with its own lethal mix of nostalgia, innovation and value. On top of which, it revels in its relegated role and delivers, unprecedentedly, the allure of being young and cool forever. Which might explain its broad — if not universal — appeal, because who doesn’t desire everlasting youth?
This is undergirded by venturous designs and experimental materials that resonate like the scene of an energetic teen stood in a brilliantly eclectic wardrobe, piecing together an ensemble with unbridled enthusiasm. And that has culminated in the arrival of perhaps some of the most emphatic watches produced in recent years. Think about it: when was the last time you’ve seen a watch as studied and evocatively stylized as the Heritage Black Bay Bronze? With its manufacture COSC-certified cal. MT5601, its brown “tropical” dial, snowflake hands, its aluminum-bronze alloy case that will soon enough acquire a handsome patina and a truly idiosyncratic strap inspired by elastic parachute harnesses, it had all the ingredients to cause the perfect storm. Yet the beauty of the Black Bay Heritage line is that it doesn’t come across as being blatantly nostalgic. While it pays tribute to the old Tudor dive watches, and by extension, the Rolex Submariners, it eschews any one precise reference. You can sense it but you can’t pinpoint it.