The Tudor Buying Guide: Models, Prices & Everything Else You Need to Know
Everything you need to know when buying a Tudor watch, from models to prices.
October 10, 2022
7 min read
For the majority of its history, Tudor has been seen as Rolex’s little brother. Founded in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf (of Rolex fame), the brand was originally created as a more affordable alternative, and as a result, found itself trapped within the colossal shadow of its mega-famous parent company. That changed in 2009, when Tudor went through a major relaunch, gaining attention in its own right for unique models that led to a dedicated following of fans, and since then, it’s increasingly asserted itself as one of the biggest names within the industry. What we’re saying is: Rolex who?
That said, Tudor’s modern catalog looks quite a bit different than how it did during the early days of the company, and as the brand continues to step outside of its big brother’s shadow, it’s increasingly developed its own unique identity. To help you figure out what Tudor watch belongs on your wrist, we’ve put together this guide including everything you need to know before hitting “buy.”
Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf created Tudor to be a more affordable alternative to Rolex, and by using Rolex-designed cases paired with third-party internal movements, Tudor was able to achieve a significantly less expensive price point. Many vintage Tudor watches look incredibly similar to their Rolex-branded siblings and even have Rolex’s famous coronet logo appear on their crowns and cases. However, modern Tudor watches have their own unique design language, and you won’t find Rolex’s logo anywhere on them whatsoever, despite the fact that the brand is still owned by Rolex and there’s an undeniable amount of overlap in the type of watches produced by both.
Although Tudor no longer uses Rolex-manufactured cases, its watches are still produced in Switzerland, and are powered by Swiss movements, in addition to complying with all of the other legal standards required to have the words “Swiss Made” printed on their dials.
Not looking to spend a fortune on a watch? You’re in luck. At retail, entry-level Tudor watches can cost as little as a couple thousand dollars, with nearly all current-production models coming in well-below five-figures. Although some highly-collectible vintage Tudor watches can be worth a ton, Tudor is meant to be a relatively attainable brand and its retail pricing structure has always reflected that.
Tudor’s modern catalog is heavily built around vintage-inspired designs that nod to historic models from the brand’s archives. While some watches are essentially the modern equivalents of timepieces Tudor produced many years ago, others simply borrow aesthetic elements from notable Rolex and Tudor watches without actually being direct recreations of any one specific model. Tudor does make some thoroughly modern timepieces, but a significant portion of its current lineup are all watches with heritage-inspired designs.
Tudor was originally able to achieve its more attainable price point by using third-party movements to power its watches. However, ever since 2015, the brand has been increasingly rolling out its own chronometer-certified, in-house calibers across its various collections. Currently, Tudor uses both in-house and third-party movements, although all of the brand’s models exist within a fairly similar overall price range, regardless of the caliber that powers them.
Modern and Unconventional Materials
Despite existing for nearly a century and often embracing vintage-inspired designs, Tudor isn’t afraid of experimenting with modern and unconventional case materials. In addition to watches that feature either titanium or ceramic cases, you’ll also find Tudors crafted from bronze and even sterling silver.
Exploration and Military Use
While Tudor is now considered a luxury brand, much of its early reputation was built by producing reasonably priced, high-performing timekeeping tools, so it’s got a rich history of producing watches for various nations’ military units. In addition to being used on a number of different historic expeditions, Tudor watches were famously supplied to members of the U.S. Navy and issued to the French Marine Nationale.
Originally introduced in 2012 as a single vintage-inspired dive watch, but has steadily grown into the single largest collection within Tudor’s contemporary catalog, spanning a wide variety of different watches that all embrace vintage design elements.
In addition to the various Black Bay dive watches available in 39mm, 41mm, and 43mm case sizes and crafted from stainless steel, bronze, ceramic, sterling silver, and solid 18k gold, Tudor also offers a chronograph version (the Black Bay Chrono). There’s also an entire fleet of simple time-only Black Bay models with fixed bezels available in either two-tone or stainless steel and with case sizes that range from 31mm to 41mm in diameter. The collection is also home to two different styles of GMT watches (the Black Bay GMT and the Black Bay Pro), and there’s even the quirky Black Bay P01 based on a historic prototype developed for the U.S. Navy.
Despite being Tudor’s single largest collection and existing in a wide variety of different models and configurations, all Tudor Black Bay watches are united by their vintage-inspired design details and use of the brand’s signature “Snowflake” hands.
The brand’s modern purpose-built dive watch, crafted from titanium with a distinctly contemporary aesthetic overall.
The classic Pelagos is an uncompromising professional dive watch with a 42mm case, a helium escape valve, and 500 meters of water resistance. The standard version is available in either black or blue, but Tudor also offers the Pelagos LHD: a left-handed version with a vintage-inspired color palette.
In addition to the standard models, there’s also the Pelagos FXD, developed with the French Marine Nationale for underwater navigation with a slimmed-down 42mm case without helium escape valve or date display, along with fixed bars between the lugs and a countdown scale bezel. There’s also the Pelagos 39, offering a smaller 39mm case and a paired-down set of features, making it ideal for those who enjoy scuba diving but don’t need all of the professionally-oriented capabilities of the full-size Tudor Pelagos.
The brand’s simple, no-frills sport/field watch that offers a clean and highly-legible dial with large luminous hour markers, all wrapped up in a durable stainless steel case.
Among its Rolex-branded siblings, the Tudor Ranger could most closely be compared to the Rolex Explorer, as it offers a straightforward and highly versatile design that isn’t specifically suited for just one sport or activity, but can effortlessly exist within a wide variety of demanding scenarios.
The original Tudor Ranger appeared in the late 1960s and remained in production throughout most of the 1980s before being discontinued. Following Tudor’s relaunch, a revival model with the same core design but a larger 41mm case appeared in 2014 but was then discontinued in 2020. In 2022, Tudor brought the Ranger back yet again, but this time with a 39mm case and one of its in-house, chronometer certified movements.
Released in 2010 as one of the very first watches that followed Tudor’s global relaunch, the Tudor Heritage Chrono is another vintage-inspired model from the brand’s catalog that draws inspiration from the colorful Tudor “Monte Carlo” sports chronographs from the 1970s.
Available in black, gray, or blue, and fitted with either stainless steel bracelets or color-coordinated fabric straps, all three Tudor Heritage Chrono models offer the same two-register chronograph layout with a date display located at the 6 o’clock location. The gray and black versions feature the same distinct pentagon-shaped “home plate” hour markers, but the model with the white and blue dial is fitted with more traditional baton style indexes.
Unlike the original Tudor “Monte Carlo” chronograph watches from the 1970s that used manually-wound movements, the modern Tudor Heritage Chrono models are powered by automatic-winding calibers and also feature larger 42mm cases that are fitted with scratch-resistant sapphire crystals.
One of the more unusual models from Tudor’s lineup, offering a fairly traditional aesthetic paired with a movement that features a unique programmable alarm complication.
Using a secondary crown fitted to the side of the case, along with an additional fourth centrally-mounted hand for indicating the desired time of the alarm, the Tudor Advisor offers a simple and straightforward way of creating a 100% analog wrist-mounted alarm that will make an audible ringing/buzzing sound that you can both hear and feel when it is on your wrist.
The original Tudor Advisor was launched in 1957 and remained in production for two decades until it was discontinued in 1977. Following Tudor’s global relaunch, the Advisor returned in 2011 as the Heritage Advisor with slightly updated aesthetics; however, that model was also discontinued in 2022, marking a second end to this unique and often overlooked cult-favorite collection.
Should You Buy A New or Vintage Tudor?
One of the single greatest differences between vintage and modern Tudor watches is that the older examples will often be heavily based upon Rolex models, while newer Tudor watches will typically offer more exclusive designs. Many vintage Tudors use Rolex external case components, and will even have Rolex’s logo branded on their winding crowns and casebacks. Conversely, while there is still a certain amount of general aesthetic overlap between both brands’ catalogs, you won’t find Rolex’s logo anywhere on modern Tudor watches, and none of the components are interchangeable between the two companies’ watches, even if the models themselves may appear somewhat similar.
On top of that, the materials used in the construction of Tudors have also evolved over the years. Vintage models almost always feature either traditional stainless steel or gold-plated cases, and are fitted with crystals made from acrylic (plexiglass). Meanwhile, in addition to classic stainless steel, modern Tudor watches can have cases made from high-tech materials like titanium or ceramic, along with other non-traditional metals like bronze or sterling silver, and their crystals are now crafted from scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire. Even when modern Tudor watches are heavily vintage-inspired in their overall designs, the materials used in their construction are always modern, ensuring maximum durability and resistance to wear.