Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
Before you start repeatedly yelling ‘no’ at your screen and face palming, take a deep breath and ask yourself, ‘Is Rolex still better than Tudor?’
I’ve been noticing a trend amongst my non-watch nerd friends. They all want to talk about this ‘new’ brand they’ve just discovered that’s apparently just like Rolex, only cheaper. In fact, the question I get most often now seems to be, ‘Is Tudor better than Rolex?’
Before you start repeatedly yelling ‘no’ at your screen and face palming, take a deep breath and ask yourself, is Rolex really still better than Tudor? Ten years ago, the answer would have been a fairly obvious and emphatic, yes! These days, however, things aren’t quite so clear cut.
It’s true, Rolex has many, many things going for it: unrivalled quality and resale value, global brand recognition, not to mention it’s the watch of choice of just about every executive on the planet. And who knows, maybe I’ll soon be penning an article about why Rolex is better than every other watch brand, period. Still, I would argue that there are some things that little brother, Tudor, just does better, and that’s what we are going to look at here.
Sure, I may not convince you that Tudor is superior to Rolex – heck, I’m not sure if I even believe that myself…yet – but hopefully I will open your eyes to the excellent value for money the brand offers; not to mention the serious street cred that comes with owning a top-quality watch from a – relatively – under-the-radar brand. So, put your preconceived ideas aside and let’s look at some of the reasons why Tudor could be better than Rolex.
Everybody knows that just about every Rolex watch keeps its value, regardless of where you buy or sell it. This is admittedly a rare thing, not only in the world of luxury watches, but for luxury goods in general. Goods from most brands lose at least 20% – 30% off their full retail price as soon as you walk out of the boutique with your new purchase, sometimes even more. That’s not the case with Rolex.
It’s great news for those who can afford to buy one, but with popular steel models like the Submariner and GMT-Master edging ever closer to $10k and precious metal versions that can cost three times as much, you have to ask yourself, are they really worth the money? Keep in mind, these are not complicated watches.
Tudor, on the other hand, offers models that are significantly cheaper, yet still deliver comparable quality. The Tudor Pelagos, for example, features a COSC-certified, in-house, automatic movement that offers a 70-hour power reserve. The steel and titanium 42-mm case is rated water resistant to 500m (1,640ft) and its ceramic rotating bezel comes in two different colours: matt black or matt blue. There’s even a helium escape valve and a fancy bracelet extension system, and yet it costs less than half the price of a comparable Rolex Sea Dweller.
Most of the popular watches in the current Rolex line-up made their debut in the 1950s and 1960s, and to be honest, not much has changed since. Sure, case sizes have increased slightly and the quality has gotten even better, but overall, we haven’t really seen anything too adventurous from Rolex ever. Tudor, on the other hand, is all about trying new ideas. The brand’s tag line is ‘Born To Dare’ and they really take that seriously.
Ignoring conventional wisdom, Tudor combined a dive watch with a chronograph to create the surprisingly cool Heritage Black Bay Chrono. They also offered their popular Heritage Black Bay dive watch in a steel case, finished with a black PVD-coating, as well as a special, 43 mm bronze version. They even created a vintage-inspired, left-hand version of the Pelagos dive watch discussed above, called the Pelagos LHD.
To get anything approaching this level of variety from Rolex, you would need to take your watch to an aftermarket customisation specialist, which immediately voids the warranty on the watch and impacts its resale value (most likely negatively).
One of the things that Tudor does really well, possibly better than any other comparable brand out there, is combining elements of its heritage with new designs. The brand has a healthy respect for its origins, and continually pays subtle homage to the classic models that helped establish the brand. The characteristic angular hands, known as snowflake hands, that appear on many of its current models were borrowed from the TUDOR watches used by the French National Navy in the 1970s. The domed dials and crystals, meanwhile, were inspired by the first Tudor diving watches.
Some models, such as the Heritage Black Bay, feature an oversized winding crown, which is inspired by the Ref. 7924 from 1958, aka the Big Crown. Other models feature cream-coloured tumescent coating, which give the dials a warm patina colour and brings nicely-aged vintage models to mind. Rolex, meanwhile, just put a Cyclops lens on the new Sea-Dweller, which is just about as close to sacrilege as it gets in the luxury watch world.
In addition to being cheaper, more versatile and quite frankly, more interesting than Rolex, Tudor also has something else going for it: People won’t think you’re an arrogant show off for wearing one. Deserved or not, Rolex wearers have a reputation amongst the masses, which means it is all but impossible to wear one without someone making a snide remark. Tudor, on the other hand, is still relatively unknown and so you get comparable value and quality without the judgements.
So, there you have it. Maybe Tudor is better than Rolex.
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