We will warn you right now – this one gets nerdy. But, we mean that in the best possible way. Over the past few years, there has been an increased interest in the historical watches from the Tudor Watch Company – no doubt due to the fantastic modern watches shown by the brand. We’re talking the Heritage Chronograph, the Black Bay, the Pelagos, the Heritage Advisor, and the Ranger. Many of the watches mentioned here are direct results of historical watches from the Tudor archives, a rich bank of bright colors and risk-taking designs. Today, we are proud to present you with an unprecedented look inside the official archives of the Tudor Watch Company. Yes, these are the watches owned by Tudor themselves, many of which have never left its Geneva Headquarters – and this includes more than one prototype that was never put into production.
1932 Tudor For Australian Market
The Tudor name goes all the way back to 1926, when Hans Wilsdorf registered the name as one of a few that he hoped to build out into an entire family of watch companies. For more on the early days of the Rolex empire, read Ben’s exhaustive look inside Rolex here. By the early ’30s, one would begin to see the name on dials sparingly. One of the earliest known examples is this tonneau-shaped case made for an Australian retailer.
1950s Oyster Prince
While Tudor was indeed always a totally separate brand from its big brother, it did share in many of the Crown’s technical advances. This Oyster Prince, featured here with “Big Rose” logo, is both self-winding and waterproof, two tenets of this family’s values.
1950s Tudor Advisor Reference 7926
The Advisor, which dates to 1957, was one of the earliest forays into truly unique developments for the mark. The alarm watch, a supremely functional concept back then, remains part of Tudor’s DNA.
1970s Tudor Advisor Alarm Watch
While the 1950s Advisors are the most well known, Tudor revived the Advisor in the 1970s using a case that may look familiar to some. These watches are extremely rare, and really feel so ’70s.
Tudor Submariner Reference 7922
In 1954, Tudor took a step into the world that we most associate it with – sport watches. Here we see the very earliest Tudor Submariner, reference 7924. The case was was shared with early Rolex Submariners, while inside we saw the caliber 390 by Fleurier.
Tudor Submariner Reference 7923 Manually Wound
The reference 7923 that you see here is one of Tudor’s rarest production watches, and an interesting one for any Rolex dive-watch collector. This reference is the only manually-wound dive watch from the family, ever. Because it’s manual, the entire watch is quite a bit thinner than other subs. You also have unique pencil hands not seen on other Tudor Subs.
Submariner Reference 7928
After the 7923 comes the “Big Crown” 7924, and then the reference 7928. The 7928 is the first Tudor Submariner to feature crown guards, and would set the stage for the second series of Tudor dive watches.
Tudor Submariner 7016
The reference 7016 is a game-changing watch for Tudor. No longer do we see Fleurier movements, but instead we see the ETA calibers that would power the Submariners for decades. While many 7016s are born with old-style dials and Mercedes hands, it is not uncommon to see them with snowflake hands and dials.
Tudor Submariner 7021 With Date
The reference 7021 is identical to the 7016, only this time it would have a date window.
Tudor Submariner Reference 9401
The reference 9401 is the watch that would define Tudor through the 1970s, including the watch used by the French Navy, or Marine Nationale. Here you will see black-dialed watches first, which were quickly replaced by the now iconic blue snowflakes.
Tudor Submariner 7900 Series
The 7900 Series Submariners would replace the iconic snowflakes by the early 1980s. With them would come the Mercedes-style hands and a more traditional dial.
One special example of this watch is the piece seen here – a prototype Submariner with burgundy bezel that would never see the light of day. It was indeed the inspiration for the Heritage Black Bay’s colorway.
Tudor Homeplate Chronograph Reference 7032
In 1970, we would see Tudor’s first racing chronographs. The reference 7032 with steel bezel and 7031 with black tachymeter bezel would set the tone for its funky, color-filled watches of the next few decades.
Tudor Homeplate Reference 7033 Prototype
While the 7032 and 7031 are indeed phenomenally rare and valuable vintage timepieces, neither can compare to the watch you see here. This is the reference 7033 and it is in fact a prototype watch that features a rotating 12-hour bezel. It was never put into production, but it inspired the Heritage Chronograph from just a few years back. You simply will not seen these, anywhere, and this example has lived inside the Tudor vault for over 40 years.
The 7100 Series Monte Carlo Chronographs
After the homeplates would come the 7100 series chronographs, or what many call the “Monte Carlo.” There are a range of dial and bezel colors here, all sharing the same dial layouts and movements. While these watches are very popular, they do not compare to the rarity or value of the earlier homeplates. Still, they are great vintage chronographs that represent Tudor at its very best.
Tudor Series 9400 Big Block Self-Winding Chronographs
Up until now, all Tudor chronographs were manually wound, featuring one of two Valjoux calibers. With the introduction of the “Big Block” chronographs, we now see self-winding caliber and three registers.
Tudor Chronograph Reference 79260
Finally, the last “vintage” Tudor chronograph is the series 79000. The reference 79260 is the most well known, and includes the likes of the “Tudor Tiger Prince” watches.
For more on Tudor, click here.
For more on Tudor, click here.