Opinion: Tudor vs Rolex

“Just a quick question why are Tudor watches so popular? What’s the attraction to this brand of watch….”

A question posed on Australian Watch Forum recently, that fielded over a 100 responses in the comments. The original post is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/490183454493735/permalink/920698078108935/

I decided to take a stab at a response biased by my own positive view of Tudor.

“There a lot of comments here for and against Tudor vs Rolex and whether or not Tudor is a poor mans Rolex and whether Tudor is popular or not. A few have mentioned the controlling supply piece. 

Let’s have a go at unpacking all that. 

Rolex was founded before Tudor but the guy who founded Rolex went on to create Tudor as his experimental place to work on movements. Rolex has always been about unique movements. It’s a bit akin to Bentley’s and Rolls Royce. Both related, but both different, and I’m talking about the original coach work days, not the luxury vs sport prestige direction the two marques are going. 

Rolex smashed it in the 50’s and 60’s by aligning themselves marketing wise with motor racing and speed boat racing – both sexy and aspirational past times for well to do men of the day. Than they started the foray into cinema, placing themselves on the wrists of the Hollywood set. Throughout all this they maintained good quality, consistent build, timeless designs and unique movements ie. totally in-house. 

Then the 2nd hand market came along with conspicuously published and high profile sales of cherished pieces touched by history – famous actors, politicians, royalty. Literally. 

No other watch maker up to this point had done this and created an iconic statement piece by making people desire to be associated with the rich and powerful. 

The concept of provenance was born. 

Until Omega came along. They popped one on the moon and on James Bond. 

Tudor, during all this was creating solid, reputationally strong pieces, but stayed out of the limelight unlike the way Rolex had. 

Navy, Spec Ops and Military agencies favoured Tudor – as they did with Panerai, IWC and Sinn. 

Tudors are really well made. I’d actually argue for such a small company they are, piece for piece, better made than most other brands. Rolex on the other hand has the reputation, so therefore limits the volume to maintain their aura of desirability. When you buy a Rolex, you’re buying a piece of history and Rolex have created the persona to make you think that – superb quality control, unique movements, on point design. There’s an appreciation for the brand that is more evident to those in the know. The average punter is just looking at the price. 

Tudor don’t do any of the above, nor have they tried too. Hence why they are on first inspection seen as “second tier”. 

Once you look at it though, Tudor are popular, because they have everything a Rolex does, minus the social cachet. 

On a different point, it doesn’t help that they dabble in ETA movements and rework it to their own spec, which to some, lessons the quality of the brand offering.”

So my vote is that Tudor are for those in the know and Rolex, in general terms, is for the masses.

And my choice? Tudor Heritage Ranger.

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