Earlier in February Rolex created a new subsidiary, Tudor Watch USA, LLC with a launch date of summer 2013 under the helm of Russell Kelly. Tudor watches first opened in 1946, when Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf wanted a watch that was affordable to all. Wilsdorf named the watch to honor the Tudor period of England, a time when the country was economically healthier, more expansive and optimistic that in the previous thousand years under the humble beginnings of the Tudor family. Tudor watches initially had the Tudor Rose as its insignia and changed it to a shield in the 1960’s.
Rolex’s alter ego
Tudor watches are Rolex’s alter ego. Manufactured and owned by Rolex, Tudor utilizes the same patents and innovations as the regular Rolex line but does not follow the same design ethos. Tudor’s utilize the same case, winding crowns, crystals, helium escape valves, and bracelets. During the 1990’s, many Tudors were sold with Rolex signed bracelets and crowns. Although Rolex design influences are seen in the Tudor line, the modern Tudor watches encompass many aspects that resonate with vintage watch lovers that are not seen in modern Rolexes. The Tudor Black Bay is a classic no-date dive watch that includes a classic domed crystal in sapphire rather than acrylic as was back in the day. The Tudor Pelagos is a dive watch with date, helium escape valve, a self adjusting bracelet clasp not found in any Rolex watch, and all in titanium. The Tudor Heritage Chrono is a classic chronograph complete with orange highlights, a date window, and choice between stainless or nylon NATO strap that are features not found on the Rolex Daytona. All of these watches possess Rolex quality but at a price that is a little more modest than the Rolex counterparts.
Tudor is able to offer these watches more affordably because of the second primary difference between Rolex Tudor, the use of ETA movements. Hans Wilsdorf envisioned Rolex watches for everyman but he did not want to lower standards from the Rolex line. Subsequently, he envisioned a watch that possessed the same design and functional standards as the Rolex line, but at a price point reachable by the general populous. The use of ETA movements lowers the entry point for people who appreciate Tudor’s retro designs yet without sacrificing functionality. Tudor watches have the same pressure proof rating, possesses the same timing functionality, and in some cases, has more functionality as the regular Rolex line as demonstrated by the date window in the Heritage Chrono and the titanium case and self adjusting bracelet in the Pelagos.
Okay, so why the excitement…
For the last 10 years, Tudor watches were not available in the United States. Tudor had to be purchased in Canada or Europe hand carried into the United States. The watches were not available by any authorized dealer. Starting summer, Tudor watches will be available through Rolex’s dealer network and serviced at Rolex Service Centers in New York, Beverly Hills, and Dallas. Tudor will give other mid-priced watch brands such as Omega and Tag-Heuer a little more competition at the local mall.