With the last decade over and a new one begining I took some time to reflect on how the watch world is different now from 2009. My how it has changed. The whole watch world and hobby has grown at an insane pace, we got Talking Watches, Watchville, The Paul Newman Daytona, & Marlon Brando GMT. Watches as a hobby grew from hyper niche to downright trendy, GQ now has a feature called “Watches of the Week.” But with all this growth one watch company stood out the most in my mind. Tudor is the watch brand of the last decade. While the Tudor brand goes back a ways, since watch dealer and maker “Veueve de Philippe Huther” registered the trademark “The Tudor” for Hans Wilsdorf in 1926 it has had its share of ups and downs. At the beginning of the decade, the watch company was a shell of its former self. In 2010 you couldn’t even buy a Tudor watch retail in the U.S. because the market just wasn’t big enough for the brand to justify a presence. Tudor was a sleeping giant as we would soon find out.
To start the decade they released the Heritage Chronograph, in 2011 the Heritage Advisor, 2012 the first Black Bay and Pelagos. Talk about whetting the appetite. Tudor was firmly asserting itself as a key player in the sports watch space. In 2013 after everyone in the U.S. was salivating over their extremely well-done heritage line, Tudor came back to the U.S. and continued to release stone-cold hits. Along with the color and dial variations on the models they released to start the decade, they introduced the Ranger and the North Flag. Another milestone in 2015 was that the North Flag brought us Tudor’s first in house movement, the COSC Certified MT5621. They slowly introduced more and more in house movements while keeping prices stable further asserting themselves as serious competition for the marquee brands. With the second half of the decade we got a string of modern classics. The Black Bay line alone would over double in size in the coming years including the very popular Black Bay 36, 58, GMT, Bronze, and Chronograph. Combine that with the blue and LHD Pelagos and it starts to become hard to believe. When you experience these releases spaced out over the years it’s easy to forget just how many great watches Tudor released.
Tudor has also carved out the unique niche of being the watch enthusiasts’ watch brand. All those watches could have been pulled straight out of the minds of die-hard watch enthusiasts. With Tudor consistently creating such great pieces, they’ve slowly but surely pulled themselves out of Rolex’s shadow. No longer are they just a poor man’s Rolex, but they offer something that the crown doesn’t, modern tool watches with vintage charm. While Tudor gradually stepped up their game, Rolex has continued to move upstream as well becoming more and more a luxury brand. In the void, Tudor has thrived taking up space in the market that Rolex once occupied. Yes, Tudor watches are still luxury watches but they sit in a sweet spot. They’re still purpose-built, and you’re not afraid to bang them around. Because of this Tudors will age as gracefully as the Rolex of the past. While physically they’ll “patina” better than a modern Rolex, I also think they’ll age better in collector’s minds. We love our vintage watches now because of the stories they tell. No one is going to lovingly abuse the Daytona they paid double MSRP for the way they will a Black Bay Chronograph. In the future Tudors will undoubtedly be the watches that have the most stories to tell. This past decade belongs to Tudor. I don’t know how Tudor can keep up their success and while I still think they’ll keep growing as a brand the next decade will likely belong to another watch brand. But two decades after that will belong to the “Born to Dare” vintage Tudors.