Rolex’s junior sIbling has cultivated its own band of devotees
The Tudor brand was introduced in 1946 as a more affordable alternative to Rolex. It used a lot of its parent company’s design codes but filled the cases with cheaper, outsourced movements to provide good quality watches to a wider audience. Particularly successful were the diving watches, introduced in the 1950s. When buying the watch merely as a tool, many divers took the view that the Tudor Submariner did the job just as well as the Rolex, so why pay more?
The obvious downside to that raison d’être is a life spent in the shadow of a more glamorous big brother. While certain Tudor models have always had their admirers, there was no getting away from the public perception that you would choose a Rolex if you could. Things changed in 2010 with the launch of the Tudor heritage collection, watches that were influenced by various historical models but not constrained by them. First there was a chronograph, then an alarm watch. And they began to get a whole load of attention all of their own thanks to new legions of Tudor fans.
Then in 2012 Tudor launched the Heritage Black Bay, which was clearly influenced by the early Submariners, but with a difference, coming with a big crown, angular ‘snowflake’ hands and – most strikingly – a red bezel. The watch won the Revival award the following year at the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the Oscars of the watchmaking world.
A blue bezel version followed and new for this year it has a black bezel, being inevitably given the super-cool name Black Bay ‘Black’. It is available either on a brushed steel bracelet or an aged leather strap. Both come supplied with a second strap in black fabric, so the watch is ready for action.
Using modified ETA movements, they are still significantly cheaper than an equivalent Rolex, but in terms of style they offer something totally different from the parent company. With the Black Bay, Tudor has definitely emerged from the shadows.