Tudor Heritage Ranger Announced at Baselworld

photo.PNG copyIntroduced at Baselworld 2014 is a totally new Tudor, yet not quite so new to longtime fans of the brand. Tudor’s original Ranger, their version of the Rolex Explorer, featured the aesthetic values and look of the Explorer without the heftier price tag and the new Heritage Ranger appears to follow in that lead.

Crafted in stainless steel  with a completely brushed finish, 41mm case, the Heritage Ranger is first and foremost a tool watch and definitely looks the part. It is larger by 2mm than the current version of the Explorer and features a matte black dial nearly identical to that of the original. The Ranger features the ETA 2824 movement, heavily decorated and meticulously regulated by Tudor in their Geneva factories.

The hands are in a white gold finish and the pear-shaped hour hand is an homage to the original Ranger, which also featured a similar hand. A sapphire crystal, domed to resemble the vintage models, protects the dial which is also domed while a screw-down crown, emblazoned with the vintage Tudor rose logo, protects the movement to a depth of 150 meters.

photo 2The Heritage Ranger is available on a variety of leather straps, as well as a stainless steel Oyster-style bracelet with vintage-inspired straight end pieces. All versions feature an additional nylon strap in a camouflage colored material.

Prices have not yet been announced but if the pricing strategy follows that of Rolex, the Tudor Heritage Ranger should come in near the entry point of the Tudor brand of watches. Tudor’s focus of bringing back the vintage models reflecting the history of both its own company and that of its older sister Rolex seems to have hit a positive note with watch aficionados everywhere, especially with Tudor now retailing in the United States once again.

The new watch is a great way to break into the Tudor line of watches. It features a robust, time-tested design made modern for today’s market as well as the vintage aspects that have made these watches, quite literally, stand the test of time.

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Tudor Heritage Black Bay Sings the Blues

photo 5When Tudor, the younger and slightly rebellious sister brand of Swiss powerhouse watch brand Rolex introduced the Heritage Black Bay in 2012, it wasn’t long before they realized they had hit a home run.

The Black Bay, an homage to both Rolex and Tudor Submariners of the past, was part of a lineup that had fans of the brand lining up at dealers and prospective buyers in the United States bemoaning Tudor’s n0t-for-sale-in-the-US status…that is, until 2013 when Tudor returned to these shores.

This year, at Baselworld 2014, Tudor has issued a new Black Bay that will have fans singing the blues soon enough….blue as in bezel that is. The new Black Bay is much like the original with a few subtle differences. First, Tudor has made a new, deep blue bezel available and combined it with a black dial, a strikingly different package from the dark brown dial and burgundy bezel of the original. Like the original, the aluminum flange connecting to the crown is also colored to match the blue bezel.

photo 1-2This latest version of the Black Bay dial is also contrasted from the original by having white gold hands, index surrounds and lettering. The snowflake hour hand, unique to the Tudor line of watches returns as well.

Like the Black Bay in burgundy red, the midnight blue model comes either with a stainless steel oyster-style bracelet or an aged leather strap, in blue with this model. A nylon strap in blue is also included with either choice.

Prices haven’t been announced yet but should be similarly priced to that of the original and should be available in authorized Tudor dealers soon. Stay tuned for more news from Baselworld!

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Tudor Heritage Chronograph Blue at Baselworld 2013

tudorheritageblueTudor Watch Company, the slightly more outgoing younger sibling of Rolex, has released a new version of its popular Heritage Chronograph, this time with an emphasis on blue. The new “Blue” is a modern reinterpretation of the famous Tudor “Monaco” style chronograph watch introduced in 1973. Available for a limited number of years, the original model has become a collector’s item among knowledgeable Tudor collectors.

The new model features a stainless steel bracelet as well as a handmade cloth strap in corresponding colors to the dial’s own blue, orange and gray color palette. The movement is an ETA 2892, modified by Rolex and with an additional chronograph module made by Tudor. The new Tudor Heritage Chronograph Blue is currently being shown at Baselworld 2013, the International Watch and Jewelry show held annually in Basel, Switzerland. It should be a tremendous hit in the United States when Tudor arrives here later this year.



Rolex GMT Master II at Baselworld 2013

Rolex GMT-Master II 40 mm in 904L steel with a 24-hour rotatable blue and black ceramic Cerachrom bezel insert, black dial and Oyster bracelet.

Rolex GMT-Master II 40 mm in 904L steel with a 24-hour rotatable blue and black ceramic Cerachrom bezel insert, black dial and Oyster bracelet. Reference 116719BLNR

Rolex has unveiled a new version of its popular aviator’s watch, the GMT Master II and the breakthrough this year is the return of the bicolor bezel.

The bicolor bezel, missing on the GMT Master II since the introduction of the Cerachrom bezel several years ago, was a favorite and distinct characteristic of this model in its previous form, usually appearing in either black and red or the more popular red and blue “Pepsi” bezel.

For Baselworld 2013, Rolex has apparently solved the problem of how to craft a ceramic bezel in one piece out of two distinct colors. This newest version of the GMT Master II, Reference 116710BLNR, features the bezel in black and blue, to denote the differences in day and night and features a blue GMT hand which is more distinctive against the black dial than the green hand which has been a feature of GMT’s the past few years. With the return of the bicolor bezel, the GMT Master II once again becomes a watch that, while sharing many of the attributes of the highly popular Submariner, is distinctly different at the same time.

From Rolex’s own website, the following information about the bezel was unveiled for Baselworld 2013:


A technological and aesthetic feat, the new CERACHROM bezel insert is obtained by a unique process developed and patented by Rolex which allows this ceramic component with two distinct colours to be produced as a single piece. It echoes the traditional two-colour bezel of the original GMT-MASTER and GMT-MASTER II models. The CERACHROM insert, introduced in 2005, has the advantage of being virtually scratchproof, highly corrosion resistant, and its colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. Its diamond-polished surface presents an exceptional lustre. The engraved 24-hour graduations are coated with a thin layer of platinum via a PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) process.

Rolex GMT-Master II 40 mm in 904L steel with a 24-hour rotatable blue and black ceramic Cerachrom bezel insert, black dial and Oyster bracelet in brush and polished combination finish.



Rolex Explorer 39mm: Boldly Going Where Few Have Gone

ExplorerIn the stable of iconic wristwatches, Rolex has certainly earned its place at the table, especially with models such as the Submariner, which is just about as iconic as a wristwatch can get. Equally iconic to those who know wristwatches, especially those that bear the Rolex coronet, is the Rolex Explorer, which like the Submariner was introduced to the public in 1953.

In that year, Sir Edmund Hillary had made headlines around the world when he became the first man to scale Mount Everest, arriving at the summit on May 29th. He and members of his team wore Rolex wristwatches and these watches were made all the more famous by their ability to withstand the rugged terrain and conditions that could be found in the Himalayas.

Rolex decided to capitalize on this newfound fame by offering a watch that paid tribute to Hillary and to those who chose to explore the world in all its most extreme environments and remote locations and thus, the Rolex Explorer was born. More Rolex Explorer watches have probably been deeper in the earth and higher on the land than any other watch made.

Much of the engineering work that went into the creation of the original Rolex Explorer benefited from technical knowledge gained during the Himalayan expeditions over the decades, all of which conspired to make it the most rugged of all oyster perpetual models. It is for this reason that the Explorer, as well as watches in the Submariner line, are designated by Rolex as part of their “Professional” line of wristwatches, serious tools for those that explore deep in the ocean and earth or high in the mountainous altitudes. Constantly put to the test, these watches kept accurate time, maintained their water resistance, were unharmed by extreme temperature changes, snow, ice or dust in short, they passed pretty much every test that could be thrown at them in realistic environments.

Since being introduced in 1953, the Rolex Explorer has been updated regularly, taking advantage of technical innovation from Rolex while maintaining its original look and form as closely as possible. This includes a stainless steel oyster case and bracelet, a black dial with luminescent indexes and easy-to-read Arabic numerals, a flat, smooth bezel and curving, tapered lugs. There really isn’t much else that is needed on this particular watch and its minimalistic design and pure function is very appealing to many of the people who choose to wear one.

I myself was not in the market for an Explorer. I had seen them many times but had passed them by in favor of other Rolex branded wristwatches such as the Submariner. They were always just a bit too small for my taste and so were never really on my radar. Recently, however, I was in the market for a DateJust and while looking at a variety of those models, I noticed the new Explorer sitting in the jewelers case and on a whim I asked to look at it.

He handed me the watch and the first thing I noticed about it was that it was larger and also that it had a very substantial feel to it. The enlarged case, now at 39 mm, placed it squarely between the classic DateJust and the Submariner in size. Adding to the heft of the watch was a much-improved oyster bracelet that included a complete redesign of the old Rolex clasp, long considered to be a design element whose quality was not in keeping with or on par with the watches that they graced.

The redesign of the Rolex Explorer actually took place in 2010. The most noticeable change that people will see is the enlarged case which grows from 36 mm to 39 mm, giving it a more substantial profile and increased visibility. It retains a screwed down case back and twinlock crown, guaranteeing water resistance to a depth of 100 m or 330 feet, although it is likely that this watch can withstand greater pressure than what is indicated on the dial.

Speaking of the dial, it too is larger and is rendered in a matte black finish that helps to increase visibility. This is made all the more important because the scratch proof sapphire crystal does not have any type of antireflective coating, either on the inside or on the surface. It is surrounded by a smooth flat bezel that is retained from Rolex Explorers if the past-simple, elegant and clean. The rehaut or inner band of steel that surrounds the dial is engraved with Rolex continuously circling the dial and the serial number of the watch at the 6 position.

The dial states “Rolex” beneath the coronet on the top side of the dial with the words “Oyster Perpetual” beneath it. The font appears to be somewhat larger and more visible than in the past. On the lower side of the dial, the word “Explorer” is moved from above to here and underneath it, the well-known statement “Superlative Chronometer” and “Officially Certified”.

Rhodium plated white gold Arabic numerals are featured at the three, six, and nine positions with rectangular markers, also rendered in rhodium plated white gold at the other positions. The ubiquitous triangular marker pointing down towards the coronet is featured solely at the 12 o’clock position. All non-numerical markers on the dial are filled with Rolex’s proprietary Chromalight luminous material, which emits a strong blue luminescence after being exposed to light. In my experience with this watch, the new luminous material glows very brightly upon being exposed to light and then dims down somewhat retaining its glow for the remainder of the night.

The hands of the watch are part of what identifies the Rolex Explorer as part of the professional series of watches offered by Rolex. The hour hand features the same Mercedes style hand that can be found on the Rolex Submariner and the minute and second-hand are also from the same line. To an experienced eye, the hands of this watch will prevent anyone from confusing it with a basic Oyster Perpetual line model. These too are filled with Chromalight material to provide excellent readability in dark conditions.

I personally find the combination of the matte finished dial, bold markers, and professional series hands to be a very pleasing combination that expresses simplicity and function over form. The new Explorer does an excellent job at doing its job-it provides you the time without any embellishment or flourish that would detract from its purpose.

Beating inside the new Rolex Explorer is a new movement, the caliber 3132 and it is invested with all the latest technology that Rolex has to offer. This includes the reliable new blue Parachrom hairspring, which remains unaffected by magnetic fields and temperature variations, as well as adding 10 times the shock resistance of an ordinary hairspring. In addition to the hairspring, this particular caliber is equipped with Paraflex shock absorbers which further increase the Explorer’s reliability in rough conditions by increasing shock resistance by up to 50%. These two features alone give the Rolex Explorer the ability to stand up to the most extreme conditions, at least those that a human being can stand up to and probably a lot more. Of course, the Rolex oyster perpetual self-winding system is a part of the movement, capturing human motion and converting that motion into energy which is stored in the mainspring, providing power to the movement.

Rounding out the Rolex explorer is a new oyster bracelet. This new bracelet has much of the same appearance and function as the oyster bracelet found on the Rolex Submariner but without a diving extension. It instead relies on another Rolex innovation, the EasyLink extension, which allows the wearer to easily adjust the size of the bracelet by as much as 5 mm in either direction. This helps to keep the watch comfortable on the wrist despite occasional swelling or contracting of the wrist due to temperature changes. It also includes a fliplock to make sure that the bracelet remains securely on the wrist of the wearer. The construction of the entire bracelet, clasp and fliplock is light-years ahead of the one that it replaced.

The new bracelet, as well as the entire case of the new Rolex Explorer, is crafted from solid 904L grade stainless steel. 904L stainless steel is known for its exceptional anti-corrosive properties and Rolex is probably the only watch company that uses this high-grade of stainless steel in the construction of its watches. It is much harder and more difficult to work with than conventional stainless steel and when polished gives the watch a beautiful luster that separates it from ordinary steel watches.

In my wearing experience, the new Rolex Explorer is as accurate as it’s chronometer rating would indicate. It has not deviated more than a gain of two seconds per day, remarkable for an automatic wristwatch. It is very comfortable on the arm and has enough weight so that you feel it’s substance without feeling like you are wearing a block of heavy metal. Unlike some of the more recently redesigned watches in the Rolex portfolio, the designers have done an excellent job of improving the Explorer in every measurable sense without detracting in any way from its mission or its design DNA.

Although this watch is certainly not an inexpensive purchase, it is not as pricey as the other watches in the Rolex professional series. Anyone looking for a pure-design, mission-oriented and straightforward wristwatch from Rolex will be very pleased with the new 39 mm Rolex Explorer. Although the watch does not have a date indicator on the dial, this is something that I can live without. I do believe that such an aperture would detract from the simplicity of the dial and the perfect balance it achieves. Given the quality of the construction that has gone into this watch, as well as the technical innovations that it now possesses, I feel that on the Rolex price scale, the watch is an excellent buy.

I hope that this review will be helpful to the reader and provide you with some insight into this truly purposeful timepiece. If you have been like me and have overlooked this watch on previous occasions, I strongly believe that it merits a second look. I don’t think you will be disappointed with what you find.


Tudor Heritage Black Bay Submariner: History on the Wrist

BlackBayWhen the Tudor watch brand was pulled from distribution in the United States nearly 17 years ago, few people seemed to mourn its passing. Having endeavored to live in the considerable shadow of its parent company’s star brand and to make its way mainly with hand-me-down syles and secondhand technology, Tudor didn’t have a lot going for it in the years the brand sold here. Many dealers were actually glad to see it go so they could focus on the favorite child. Fast forward to 2012 and all that has changed.

Tudor, the younger and less glamorous sibling of watch world giant Rolex has given birth to the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Submariner, first shown at Baselworld in early 2012. From the moment of its lanch, it has caused a great deal of buzz in the circles of watch lovers and merits its own time in the spotlight. Those in the know are familiar with the history of the Tudor brand and they also know that it is a secondary brand of powerhouse watch manufacturer Rolex and from its conception, was designed to be a watch that could boast many of the attributes of Rolex without carrying the heavy price tag of one.

Rolex has a considerable R & D department that has broken new ground in developing and evolving the watches within its line and Tudor has often been the direct beneficiary of many Rolex advances, albeit usually a step or two removed from the most cutting edge advances of the parent brand. For many years, some of the Tudor models shared nearly identical design attributes with a number of the more famous models in the Rolex catalog; the famous Submariner diving watch is a prime example of such sharing and the Tudor version even carried that venerated name on its dial for most of its run.

The Tudor Submariner had more than just the name in its DNA though. The case back, noticeably blank on a Rolex Submariner, proudly proclaimed its roots as an “Original Oyster Case by Rolex Geneva” and the famous Rolex coronet graced the screw down crown as well. While Rolex Submariners, equipped with an in-house movement, gained advances such as sapphire crystals and higher water resistancy, the Tudor Submariners soldiered on with acrylic crystals, 200 meter water resistancy and a movement made by ETA of Switzerland, albeit decorated and improved upon by Rolex. The Rolex Oyster bracelets were of a bit higher quality (though still sub par in many people’s opinion) than those found on the Tudor Sub while the Tudor Submariners were allowed to take more liberty with the design than their Rolex counterparts were, including the inclusion of blue dials and bezels, snowflake hands and even a mini Sub in a size more suitable to ladies. An assortment of Tudor Date and Date-Day models also mirrored the DateJust and the Day-Date models found upstairs in the Rolex department during this period.

In the 1990’s, Tudor design began to deviate from that of Rolex, eventually abandoning the parent designs and following their own path. Subsequently, Rolex stopped selling Tudor in the US, although the company has continued to enjoy success in nearly every other market. In recent years, a succession of new Tudor watches has drawn attention from the world back to Tudor and none more than that of the Heritage line of Tudor watches, of which the Black Bay “Submariner” is proud member. Drawing inspiration from their past designs, the new Heritage Tudors have found not only a new following of people proud to own a watch that has Rolex’s fingerprints all over it but they also have drawn attention from longtime fans who continue to care for and baby their vintage and near-vintage Tudor Submariners. These watches have led to an outcry from both new and old Tudor fans for Rolex to bring their younger and slightly more rebellious sibling back to US points of sale once again. Like most younger siblings, they sometimes have to find themselves and determine their own path and as Tudor has matured, that independence has asserted itself.

The new Tudor Heritage Black Bay both is and is not a Submariner. You won’t find that name anywhere on the dial or any other part of the watch; in fact, you won’t find the name Rolex inscribed anywhere on the outside of the case or on the bracelet. In reality, it doesn’t need the model designation of Submariner nor does it require the Rolex name to give it credibility. The watch, like other Tudors released in recent years, stands on its own merit. It is enough for most people to know that it is a product of Rolex and that Tudor is a strong name in its own right with or without a birth certificate of origin.

TudorBlackDuoFrom this point, I will refer to the watch as the Black Bay and when I speak of the Submariner, I will be referring to the modern Rolex of that model in comparison unless otherwise noted. The Black Bay draws its design inspiration not so much from the Submariners of today as it does those of the past, both Rolex and Tudor. It exudes a certain vintage appeal that is somewhat lacking in today’s resized, ceramic-bezeled Subs of the Rolex name and that appeal is what seems to be drawing admirers to it and creating very happy customers from those that own one. The case is just a bit larger than the standard sized Submariner, measuring at 41mm rather than 40 but it keeps the narrower, tapering lugs of the past and elongates them a bit more. Noticeably absent are the crown guards, which didn’t appear on the Submariner until later on its evolution. The purest expression of a Rolex or Tudor Submariner is the original with its simple case, tapering lugs and lack of crown guards.

Speaking of the crown, the one on the Black Bay is pretty large, even in comparsion to the Subs of today. It stands alone, unguarded and oversized, lacking the widely spaced serations of a typical Submariner crown and favoring more of a coin-edged grip. It is easy to grasp, unscrew and set the watch due to the size of the crown and the lack of guards to interfere with the operation. It rests atop a flange that is visible even when screwed completely down and the flange is the same deep burgudy red color as that of the aluminum bezel. The crown is flat on the end and features another nod at vintage Tudor watches, bearing an engraved Tudor Rose. The engraving seems to be filled with black enamel or paint that makes it stand out more prominently. It easily unscrews and like so many other hidden Rolex attributes, has a superior quality feel when unscrewing it or winding the watch with it.

blackbay2Moving on to the dial, it is arguably the most vintage aspect of this watch, displaying in a matte black that appears in some light to be a very dark chocolate-brown. Whether your eye finds it to be black or dark brown, it will no doubt find the dial to be appealing and possessing a unique character that most other watches lack. The Black Bay is not available with a date, which might trouble some people who depend on having one but since the original Submariner watches lacked a date as well, this omission is in keeping with the vintage look of the watch. It also means the dial has complete symmetry all the way around. The hour markers for 3, 6 and 9 are rectangles, 12 is an inverted triangle and the rest are marked with large round markers, all in keeping with original Submariner design.

Where it deviates from the vintage design is that all markers have metal borders surrounding the luminous material like modern Submariners all have but in this case, the metal is rose gold rather than white gold as would typically be found in a stainless steel model. A vintage Tudor Rose emblem makes a reappearance on the dial, replacing the more modern Tudor shield design that has been in use for several decades now. Beneath the rose emblem, the word “Tudor” appears in all capital letters, with the word “Geneve” underneath it in smaller letters. The lower portion of the dial adds the words “200m/660ft” with “Rotor” spelled out beneath it. Just below that, “Self-Winding” appears in an arc that mirrors the lower curve of the dial. This is in keeping with Tudors of the past but omits the word “Submariner” altogether.  A minute track surrounds the other edge of the dial and each minute hash mark is connected by an outer circle, also a nod to the Submariners of the past. All wording, the minute track and the hands are rendered in rose gold as well, the effect of which suggests the old Submariners that featured gilded hands and markers even on stainless watches.

Lets talk about the hands just a moment. All Rolex Submariners that I have ever seen and many of the Tudor Submariners as well have what is known as a Mercedes hour hand and a long sword shaped minute hand, along with a second-hand that featured a round counterpoint and a round luminous marker near the tip of the hand. Some Tudor Submariners differed from this design, going with what is known as “snowflake” hands to watch collectors. The Black Bay brings back the snowflake hour hand and also echos that design on the second-hand as well, helping to solidify that the watch is indeed of the House of Tudor. It is my understanding that future Tudor diving watches will all carry this style of hand and this has already been seen on the Tudor Pelagos watch as well.

The luminous material found in the hour markers, on the hands and at the 12 position on the bezel is not the Rolex Chromalight that was developed for use in recent Rolex watches but rather it is SuperLuminova, another example of Rolex maintaining its distance as the leader in technologies over Tudor but one should not be dismayed at this. The SuperLuminova on the Black Bay glows brightly and strongly at first exposure and makes reading the dial very easy in the dark; after some time, it tones down to a nice soft glow that last for hours. I can easily see mine in the dark when I first wake up. The lume is tinted to appear cream-colored rather than white, which, when combined with the rose gold markers and hands, gives the watch some of the appeal that old Submariners have when their hands and lume have developed a patina over many years. All in all, the dial, hands, lettering and lume combine to form one very striking package and since this is what people see the most, it is a very welcome look.

The bezel of the Black Bay is what clearly communicates that this is a diving watch, not just in looks but in substance. The bezel does not follow the Submariner’s 360 degrees of carved-in notches but instead relies on the same coin-edge found on the crown and this is the right look for this watch. The bezel ring, broken down into 1-minute increments the first quarter of the dial and 5 minute increments the rest of the way around, is rendered in a deep burgundy red identical to the flange on the crown. No pictures I have seen can quite display the exact color of burgundy one sees in person but let me just say, it is a not flashy or bright and I would use the words subdued and deep to describe the color. It works beautifully with the dial and gives the watch much of the appeal that differentiates it from Submariners. The bezel mechanism is different as well, clicking 60 times as opposed to 120, and features a unique attribute I’ve not seen before. It is a bit harder to turn than a Submariner and when aligned in the normal position (arrow at the 12 position), it seems to lock into place, requiring more force to move it one click than the other 59 clicks. This should prevent inadvertant moving of the bezel.

The crystal is saphire, curved and raised, much like vintage Submariners with acrylic crystals but not raised as high, nor as vulnerable. It has just enough height above the bezel to stand out and give it the appearance of the old acrylic crystals without the drawbacks of actually having one. The dial, which I mentioned was matte finished, is easy to read through this crystal, despite the lack of any antireflective coatings. The case back is probably the part of the watch most like a Rolex Submariner, screwing into the case and featuring a finely serated edge that requires a special tool to open. It is engraved with only three words: Tudor, Suisse and Geneve, plus the modern Tudor shield logo between each of the three words. The case back is completely brushed, as are the tops of the lugs. The sides of the case are polished and a chamfered edge separates the top of the lugs from the side of the case. This little touch of quality really speaks to the manufacturing excellence that has gone into this watch.

Beating inside the case, completely hidden from view, is an ETA 2824-2 “top” grade automatic movement rather than a Rolex in-house movement. The 2824-2 comes in four variations from ETA, with the “top” grade being the highest non-chronometer grade of this variant. It is in the movement where much of the price difference between a Rolex and a Tudor comes from, while the rest comes from certain Rolex innovations that are not present on Tudor models (plus a bit of name prestige and advertising budget probably falls into the Rolex price as well). Nevertheless, the movement is established, well-known and robust and has a reputation in its own right for quality. Rolex improves upon this by adding a fine degree of finishing to the movement not usually seen on a 2824 and going an extra step to regulate and refine it. The Incabloc shock system is replaced by Tudor and they remove the Etachron regulating system and replace it with one of their own choosing. The result is a watch which, during my ownership of it, has not gained more than 5 seconds per day, which is well within chronometer standards. These results are from about 16 hours a day on the wrist and 8 hours on the nightstand. That is excellent as far as I’m concerned.

All in all, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay is a substantial, superbly crafted wristwatch that recalls Submariners of both Rolex and Tudor branding from the 1950’s when they first made their debut but which has enough design differences to stand distinctly apart from those. The standards of quality employed in its manufacturing actually exceed those of the Submariners made in the past up until probably the last decade and probably matched those until the new ceramic Submariners in steel appeared a couple of years ago. If you take away the in-house movement, the ceramic bezel and the 904L grade of steel used in a modern Submariner, you would be hard pressed to find the Black Bay lacking in anything worthy of Rolex other than name recognition. To some, this was never a problem as some people who could easily afford a Rolex Submariner chose a Tudor Submariner instead just because of that recognition. Tudor flew under the radar, allowing the wearer to own something conceived and executed by Rolex but without the burden of the Rolex name and having to explain to the uninitiated why they would spend so much money on a watch.

TudorFlipProbably the largest leap in quality found on a Tudor today and especially on the subject of this article, is the quality that goes into the bracelets now. The Black Bay still has an Oyster style bracelet but it is wider than a Submariner bracelet at 22 mm, tapering to 20 mm at the clasp. The links and end pieces are milled of solid steel and the removable links are screwed links, just like a Submariner has, requiring a tiny flathead screwdriver to perform  the removal of links. The clasp, always a weak point in Submariners, especially those carrying the Tudor logo, is probably 80% as substantial now as a current Submariner clasp. It has a fliplock function and both the inner and outer clasp clamps together and stays closed by means of ceramic ball bearings as opposed to springbars. This attribute is something new that Tudor is actually pioneering instead of Rolex, which may indicate a reversal in trends. Perhaps Tudors will be the proving grounds for certain new technologies in watch manufacturing to ensure the design is viable before passing it on to the higher brand that must not suffer a design flaw. Only time will tell.

If metal is not your thing, the watch is offered for sale with a high quality distressed leather strap, complete with deployant clasp and either version comes with a nylon strap should you choose to wear it with such. The watch comes packaged in a beautiful, ebony black wooden box that reminds me of the finish on a fine grand piano. The extra strap is sealed in a plastic bag and mine will likely remain sealed. Warranty books and included materials are comparable to Rolex materials.

Obtaining one in the US is a bit more complicated than just going down the road to your neighborhood Rolex dealer but not impossible. Mine was secured from a certified Tudor dealer outside of the US. It was bought for me and brought back. Those who live near Canada have the option to travel there and obtain one and occasionally, they show up on Ebay and other sources. My advice would be to make absolutely sure of your source. Word has it that in the near future, Rolex will bring Tudor back to the US. Again, only time will tell as Rolex never talks about its future plans until it is ready to. Ever. I do hope this rumor is right though as I see myself becoming a serious Tudor fan in the future. Pricewise, they tend to run about $3000.00, sometimes more or less and well under half the cost of a new Submariner, depending on where your source is.

Thanks for reading and I hope this will help some of you who are thinking about taking the plunge to dive right in and get yours.

Note: Since this article was published, Rolex has since brought the Tudor brand back to the United States. Check their website at http://www.tudorwatch.com to find an authorized dealer. 

The Watch that Time Forgot: Rolex “No-Date” Submariner

I decided that this blog post would be about a watch that I have always wanted but didn’t realize it immediately; the Rolex Submariner 14060M, aka as the “No-Date Submariner”. I had an hour to kill at a high-end mall that is home to Atlanta’s largest authorized Rolex dealer and I was no stranger to the staff there as I had been coming to this store for many years. My purpose in going was to hopefully see in the “flesh” and possibly purchase the all-new stainless steel Submariner, with its buffet of improvements and design changes. First, let me add a little historical perspective though to set the stage.

In 1986, both my brother and I purchased new Rolex watches. Mine was a steel DateJust with a Jubilee bracelet; his was a steel Submariner Date. I remember how much I liked the Sub but I was 21 and wanted everyone to know my watch was a Rolex and I didn’t think the Submariner had the “true” Rolex look. I was pretty stupid back then. I remember that he decided to return his and I kept mine; in retrospect, I wish I had returned mine and kept his instead because as time went on, I began to notice the proliferation of the Submariner and I became enamored with its mission-specific look. More than that, my own Rolex had become somewhat of a cliché for the late 80’s-early 90’s era of greed.

In 2004, to celebrate the birth of my first child (we watch people will find any reason to buy a watch, won’t we?) I decided to rectify that old mistake and bought a brand new Submariner Date at the aforementioned dealer. This was during the time Rolex was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Sub and they had made a number of “improvements” to the original design. Like all Rolex watches, changes to their designs occurred with the progress of a glacier so these were not drastic ones but important nonetheless. Solid end links (the part that connects the bracelet to the case) had finally replaced the thin, folded metal kind that had been a Rolex mainstay for the entire run of the Sub; the bracelet links were a bit thicker; the diver extension a little better engineered and there had been modest improvements to the movement. The sapphire crystal remained but was virtually flush with the bezel, which could be had in black or, if you opted for the true “50th Anniversary Edition”, green. A green bezel model also garnered you larger luminous markings, denoted as the “Maxi Dial”. These changes improved the quality built into the Sub but in my opinion, they took something away from the look of the classic sub. A couple of years later, not having ever gotten that warm and fuzzy Submariner feeling that the original had garnered, I traded this one in on a new GMT Master II.

Fast-forward back to the present, May of 2011 where I am standing in front of the largest array of new Rolex watches assembled together in Atlanta, each one bright, shiny and pristine. The word has been handed down from Geneva; another price increase for the Rolex watches as of May 10th. If there was ever a time to buy a new Rolex, this is it. Inside the case is the almost totally new Submariner with its beefy steel case, a new ceramic bezel, a maxi dial and a totally re-engineered bracelet whose quality was beyond question. It even had a new diver’s extension that had been patented and was light years ahead of its predecessor. In every measurable sense, it was improved over the previous generations of Submariner…but it didn’t quite look the same and I wasn’t totally sure I liked it.

Don’t get me wrong….the new Submariner “C” (for ceramic) is by every standard a beautiful watch that has been engineered to the limits to handle what it was designed for….a diver’s watch…but in appearance, it was markedly different from the generations of Submariners that had come before it. After almost six decades in production and several iterations of the original model, all of whom had improved in an evolutionary way, here suddenly was revolutionary (for Rolex) and the pleasant aesthetics that had always been a part of the Sub character were suddenly different, like coming back home to a familiar place that seems familiar but all the angles are not quite the same. This was certainly not the watch for me.

Fortunately, among all the new ceramic models, a lone relic waited patiently for someone to “adopt” it and take it home with them and I was smitten the minute I saw it. The Submariner 14060M, also known as the “No Date Submariner” is a holdover from bygone days at Rolex and could easily be thought of as the “Watch that Time Forgot”. This particular model has been the most resistant to change of all Submariners, foregoing many of the changes that came about in 2004 and completely avoiding the changes that define the new 2011 model. The case is incrementally smaller than the Submariner Date-39.5 millimeters vs. 40.0 millimeters to be exact. It also sits more flush to the arm as it is a single millimeter less in height; in appearance, it looks almost like a vintage Submariner as it is devoid of a date window and the requisite Cyclops lens. To me, the Cyclops is a visual cue that tells everyone “Look at me, I’m a Rolex” watch and while this was desirable in the 1980’s, many would prefer today that Rolex just leave the Cyclops lens off the watch completely. Some even go to the trouble of having the crystal replaced with a non-Cyclops crystal if they can find a dealer willing to risk the wrath of Rolex by putting a non-original spec part on one of their watches.

Without the date window and magnifying lens, the dial of the 14060M achieves perfect balance and symmetry, having an equal number of hour markers on both sides of the dial. A basic stainless steel Oyster bracelet is attached to the case via end links that mimic the appearance of the old folded metal end links, though on closer inspection, they appear to be a lot more solid than the old ones of yesteryear. There is nothing fancy about the 14060M at all-in appearance, function and form, it looks every bit the part of a Rolex Submariner and without close inspection, one would be hard pressed to determine whether the watch was purchased 30 minutes ago or 30 years ago. It’s that authentic looking.

One should not think of the Submariner 14060M as a “Basic Submariner” because there isn’t anything basic about it. Aside from the lack of a date function, the 14060M comes complete with everything that makes a Submariner what it is: 300 meter water resistance; Oyster bracelet with diver’s extension; Triplock crown; sapphire crystal and top notch construction. The lack of a date complication simply affirms its mission as a no-nonsense diving watch every bit as capable as any other Submariner and who really needs to know the date when they are 200 meters or more below the surface?

The 14060M has seen a few of the changes that have benefitted its siblings though. The old tritium luminous paint gave way some years ago to Super Luminova, a much brighter, non-toxic substance and the inner dial stainless steel ring now has the Rolex name engraved around its periphery, making it harder to counterfeit. Most significant of all, in 2007 Rolex began to fit the “No Date” model with an Officially Certified Chronometer movement like most other Rolexes. It wasn’t that the 3130 wasn’t capable; in fact, it was and has always performed within chronometer specifications. Rolex just chose not to send the movements destined for the Submariner to be tested and certified, which does add expense to the watch…at least not until recent years. Now 14060M owners can enjoy knowing that their movement has been through the same rigorous testing that almost all Rolex movements have to go through to earn their Red Seal.

I left the dealer with the watch on my wrist, a smile on my face and just over $2000.00 in my bank account that I did not have to spend to get a ceramic model. There has been much speculation with the introduction of the Submariner C models that Rolex will discontinue the 14060M after a very long run and the dealer told me yesterday that they would not likely get any more of these in so I felt even better about getting a Submariner that reminded me of all that I liked about that first one I ever saw. Its clean, efficient, balanced and capable, exudes just the right amount of class without being overwhelmed by casual. It is easy to see why this watch has been the choice of many men for nearly 60 years…and apparently some women too as my dealer was wearing a Submariner Date made sometime in the past seven years on her arm as well.

If classic, old school Rolex Submariners appeal to you and you don’t want to take the chance on a used one, get in touch with your authorized dealer as they already were fairly uncommon before; if it is true that they are being phased out, finding a new one will prove difficult very soon.

Author’s note: In 2012, Rolex did decide to issue a new version of the “No-Date” Submariner. In keeping with the other Submariners that had been updated, the new one features the larger lugs and case design, a maxi dial, ceramic bezel ring, the much improved Oyster bracelet and of course, no date window to be found. It is beautiful but only increases the value of the previous one to those who desire the last of the classically styled Submariners.