|Founded||Geneva, Switzerland, 1926|
|200.000 (2015) |
Number of employees
|194 (2015-2016) |
Montres TUDOR SA is a Swiss manufacturer of high-quality wristwatches based in Geneva. Registered in 1926 at the request of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex SA. Today the brand remains a sister company to the parent company, both of which are owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. Over time Tudor watches became especially well known for its tool watches, producing watches for professional divers and the military. Between the 1960s and 1980s several navies issued Tudor Submariners to their divers, including the US Navy to its elite SEALs, and the French to their famous Marine Nationale (French Navy).
The Tudor trademark was registered in 1926 by Swiss watchmaking company “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” on behalf of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex watches. In 1936, Wilsdorf took it over himself, and went on to found the company Montres Tudor SA in 1946. The aim of the Tudor brand was to offer a more affordable watch that would preserve the Rolex reputation for quality. Tudor watches were originally equipped with off-the-shelf movements while using Rolex quality cases and bracelets, allowing it to provide the reliability and dependability of a Rolex but at a lower price. With the launch of the Tudor Oyster collection in the mid-forties, the waterproof Oyster case previously exclusive to Rolex was added to Tudor watches. This was followed by the Tudor Prince line in 1952, which was the first to be fitted with the self-winding rotor, also proprietary to Rolex, and which became the foundation of the collection for the years to come. This same year, 26 Tudor Oyster Princes were included in the British scientific expedition to Greenland organised by the Royal Navy and sponsored by The Queen and Winston Churchill. The adoption of the Oyster case and self-winding rotor facilitated Tudor's move into the production of tool watches. The French Navy (Marine Nationale) played a key role in the creation of a Tudor diving watch, becoming the brand's “in the field” research and development partner, giving detailed feedback on what worked well and what could be improved. Tudor launched its first diving watch in 1954, the Oyster Prince Submariner, waterproof to 100 metres. This was increased to 200 metres in 1958. Over the years the Submariner line adopted various features such as the “big crown” and “snowflake hands” that have been reintroduced on Tudor's diving watches of today. The French Navy began using Tudor watches in the mid-1950s. As of the late ‘60s, it was buying them in bulk without bracelets  so that all were worn with military-issued straps or those adapted by the wearers themselves. This continued until the mid-1980s. In 1964, Tudor also began producing an Oyster Prince Submariner specifically for the US Navy. Meanwhile, 1957 saw the launch of the Tudor Advisor, which incorporated an alarm complication. The first models used and adapted the Oyster case to amplify sound. Later in 1969 this was changed to a more ‘traditional’ alarm case with an external case back to increase the volume of the alarm. In 1970, Tudor released its first Chronograph, the Oysterdate, with a manually-wound Valjoux mechanical calibre 7734 and a cam mechanism chronograph function. The second series, introduced in 1971, was nicknamed the “Montecarlo” because the dials on this model are reminiscent of a casino roulette wheel. The third series, the Oysterdate “Big Block”, were the first Tudor chronographs to introduce a self-winding movement in 1976. The Tudor Monarch collection was launched in 1991, and the Tudor Hydronaut in 1999.
Recent Tudor models
In 2009, Tudor instigated a major brand relaunch with new product lines. First came the Tudor Grantour Chronograph and the Tudor Glamour collection of classic watches. This was followed in 2010 by the Heritage Chrono, inspired by the Tudor “Montecarlo” from the 1970s. The Heritage Chrono was the first of the Tudor Heritage line of watches designed to echo Tudor's best-known vintage models and also the first to come with an additional fabric strap.
2011 saw the release of the Tudor Heritage Advisor alarm watch, the Fastrider Chronograph, and the Clair de Rose collection for women. In 2012, the focus was on divers’ watches with the Heritage Black Bay, a reinterpretation of the early Tudor Submariner models, and the Pelagos diver's watch, waterproof to a depth of 500 metres. In 2013, the Heritage Black Bay won the “Revival” Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. The Pelagos went on to win the “Sports Watch” prize in 2015. In 2014, Tudor expanded the Heritage collection with the Ranger, drawing on a military-style watch of the same name that was first introduced in 1967. It also saw the launch of the Tudor Style line of men's and women's dress watches. In 2015, Tudor launched the North Flag, named for a key moment in Tudor's history, the British North Greenland Expedition in 1952. The North Flag was the first Tudor model to be fitted with an in-house movement, calibre MT5621. During 2016 and 2017, “Manufacture” movements were introduced across all of Tudor's sport watches and the Black Bay line of diver's watches was broadened extensively.
Watchmaking and features
Movements used in Tudor classic watches are manufactured by the Swiss companies ETA or Valjoux. In 2015, Tudor launched its first in-house movement for its Pelagos and North Flag watches. In 2017, Tudor then entered into a cooperative agreement with Breitling, providing the MT5612 movement for Breitling's Superocean Heritage watch, while in return Breitling produces the Tudor Calibre MT5813 movement for use in the new Tudor Heritage Chronograph, based on the Breitling B01.
Fabric straps were used by NATO forces from the mid-twentieth century as a functional and hardwearing alternative to leather and metal watch strap varieties that were available at the time. However, the two-piece strap now known as the NATO strap debuted in the British Ministry of Defence in 1973. Military watch bands had to be hardwearing and secure, and with the additions of spring bars and an added nylon strap, the NATO strap provided the best security. They were also used by many professional divers since leather straps don't suit the water and they could be adapted to fit over a diving suit more easily than metal bracelets. The NATO strap was initially only available in a 20mm wide ‘Admiralty Grey’ nylon variety, but as the style gained popularity the different British military regiments began producing straps in all manner of regimental colours. Over time military men began to customise their watch straps, taking on the colours of the regiments they were in, creating the colourful stripes that NATO straps are now often known for. In the early 2000s, many watch lovers began to pair their sports watches with fabric straps. At the launch of the Heritage Chrono watch in 2010, Tudor introduced the watch on a metal bracelet but also recognised this trend by including an additional fabric strap. A second NATO strap has been included with all of Tudor's Heritage models from that time. Tudor's fabric straps are woven by a passementerie manufacturer near St.-Etienne, the centre of French silk weaving since the 15th century. The same firm also makes ribbons for Vatican medals as well as passementerie (decorative trimmings like lace and cord for clothing and furniture) for haute couture houses like Chanel.
The first Tudor watches produced in the 1920s and 1930s bore a simple Tudor signature on the dial, with the horizontal bar of the T lengthened above the other letters. On some rare pieces, the name Rolex also appears. Around 1936, the logo changed to the name in Gothic characters accompanied by a shield bearing the Tudor rose, emblem of the long-reigning English Tudor dynasty. In 1947, one year after the official launch of Tudor Montres SA, the shield was removed and the rose appeared alone with the brand name. From 1969 on, the shield resurfaced without the rose. The shield remains as the logo on all Tudor watches while the rose is now used on the winding crowns.
Marketing and distribution
In 1953, Tudor launched a campaign based on robustness tests of the Oyster Prince and its endurance in difficult conditions. The ads included a watch worn by a coal miner during 252 hours of hand excavation, a watch subjected to the vibrations of a pneumatic drill for 30 hours worn by a stone cutter for three months, a watch worn for a month while riveting metal girders is metal construction and a watch worn by a motorbike racer over a distance of 1,000 miles. As time went by, Tudor began narrowing its focus on watches with a more technical design inspired by professions regarded as dangerous. These watches had particular functional features, for example divers’ models with date or chronograph function. The people selected for the Tudor Prince Submariner and Tudor Prince Date-Day advertising campaigns of the time were not well-known personalities but rather chosen for their profession. They included rescue divers, mining engineers and rally drivers, all photographed with their equipment. A major brand relaunch took place in 2009, with a new product line, Tudor Grantour, and a new advertising campaign based on the claim “Designed for performance. Engineered for elegance.” The marketing placed a new emphasis on style, in contrast with the 1980s communications based on strength and durability. In 2017, the “Born To Dare” campaign was launched, featuring David Beckham, Lady Gaga, and a partnership with New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks and their leading player Beauden Barrett.
Tudor watches are marketed and sold in most countries around the world including the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, South Africa, some countries in Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and countries in South America, particularly Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. Montres Tudor SA discontinued sales of Tudor-branded watches in the United States in the early 2000s, but Tudor returned to the United States market in the summer of 2013 and to the UK in 2014.
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