It is safe to say that Rolex is the most iconic watch brand out there. They’ve innovated and created some of the most iconic timepieces ever made. There is no disputing that they are one of the most important brands in the world and are at the forefront of the industry.
Tudor, Rolex’s sister brand has always somewhat been overshadowed by Rolex. It is only in recent years that Tudor has earned the right to be a big market player in their own right.
Recent years have seen vintage Tudor rise in value, particularly the Tudor Submariners and have found their way up to values near to that of their competitors. In addition to this, Tudor made some very strategic decisions surrounding their movements and released some incredibly important pieces.
Tudor has undoubtedly come out from behind the Rolex shadow, but do they compete with their older brother, or is it still a David vs. Goliath kind of battle?
Tudor’s Original Destiny
The whole purpose behind Hans Wilsdorf’s creation of Tudor was to offer a lot of what Rolex was offering but for a much more accessible price.
Indeed, Tudor’s early motto was: ‘For the man whose purse may be modest, yet whose aspirations are high’. I think it’s safe to say that Tudor no longer represents this kind of slogan.
That’s not because their prices have fallen in line with Rolex, but because they can no longer be seen as a ‘poor man’s Rolex’. Tudor makes their own parts, their own movements and, in nearly all cases, are creating totally unique designs.
I think that nowadays if you didn’t know the history of the two brands, you’d never think that they were once linked. Instead, Tudor’s current appearance, in reference to Rolex, is the more fun and daring-style watch and indeed has less to do with value or status.
How is Tudor carving their own destiny?
Although Tudor largely used third-party ETA movements, since 2015 they began to implement in-house calibres.
This is where Tudor began to make a statement within the industry. The amount of research and development, time and money that goes into doing this really does prove the worth of a brand. And in doing this, Tudor proved itself to be not only a manufacturer of fantastically rugged watches but also of the internals as well.
Many of you are probably thinking, well yes this is all well and good, but Rolex has been doing this for years and are making some of the best movements out there. And you’d be fully entitled to your view here.
But we mustn’t forget that Rolex is a much larger entity, they have the greater capacity and economies of scale to produce their own movements. So, with Tudor releasing some of their own movements, they are beginning to prove themselves as a big player in more than just case design and aesthetics.
Let’s focus a little more on Rolex, and in what areas they reign supreme.
Rolex has produced some of the most iconic watches, from the Datejust to the Daytona and will always be one of the principal brands in the industry. So, in all honesty, comparing Tudor with Rolex is like comparing a Volkswagen to a Ferrari, you can’t really do that.
Tudor makes fantastic watches, but they never have been in the same league as Rolex, then again that was the original intention of Tudor when the brand was established.
Undoubtedly, Rolex watches really do warrant their retail price tag. They’ve always been linked, in and out of the industry, with wealth and status. They always will be. For years, Rolex watches have been a way for people to prove their worth and show that they can afford the price of a small hatchback on their wrist.
That said, vintage Tudor is creeping up in value on the secondary market and is falling in line with some Rolex models. So, Tudor is proving that they are not only a great value proposition but that they offer some value when it comes to their vintage pieces.
What is the verdict?
Well, it’s no secret and I think everyone could probably have predicted the verdict before the beginning of the article. Rolex will probably always win this battle. They make superior movements; they are far more iconic, and their impact is greater within the industry.
Having said all of that though, Tudor is making a massive claim for itself, and proving that they are no longer Rolex’s understudy. I am glad that Tudor is moving away, almost entirely, from elements that would like them to Rolex.
The release of the Black Bay 58s put Tudor on the map, largely due to the gap in the market. But this type of clever strategy has been very Tudor for many years. Arguably, more so than ever, Tudor is closing the gap with Rolex.
Will they ever be in the same league? Maybe in a long time, but for now I think we can finally enjoy two different brands and appreciate them for their own creations, without the link to one another. Rolex is currently superior, but Tudor is one of the most exciting brands out there.
So, where do you stand now? Which brand should you pick? I don’t think the price should be a determining factor. Yes of course if you can’t quite stretch to the Rolex price tag, Tudor offers a great alternative.
But I think now there are many people, irrespective of price, who would buy a Tudor over a Rolex. Potentially, there is no better value for money than many Tudor models, so you can no longer say Tudor is a lesser version of Rolex.
If you are buying Rolex because you appreciate the history, the craftsmanship of the movement or the build quality, then it is more than justified as a purchase. Nowadays Tudor proves to be a statement as well. Wearing a Tudor shows you respect solid build quality, like more daring design and don’t need to prove your worth. But despite Tudor being on the up, for this battle of the brands, Rolex reigns supreme.