Founded in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, Tudor and Rolex are sister brands to this day. Tudor is the more affordable sibling and is highly sought after by collectors. Its most coveted lines are the Pelagos dive watch and the Black Bay – both the Chrono (recalling Tudor’s motorsport history) and the Fifty-Eight that pays tribute to the 1950’s divers’ watches made by the brand. Tudor also offers a Heritage line (naturally inspired by archival pieces) and the women’s Clair de Rose, which is a favorite of brand ambassador Lady Gaga. Other ambassadors include David Beckham, Jay Chou, and others. Its motto: Born to Dare.
The house of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” registered the trademark “The TUDOR” for Hans Wilsdorf in February 1926. Tudor released its first watches in 1932, exclusively available in the Australian market. The watches bore the TUDOR name on the dial, with the horizontal bar of the T lengthened above the other letters. The name Rolex even appears on some very rare pieces.
On the 15th of October 1936, the house of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” turned over the brand “The TUDOR” to Hans Wilsdorf.
Shortly after the Second World War, Hans Wilsdorf felt that the time had come to expand and give the brand a real identity of its own. So on the 6th of March 1946, he created the “Montres TUDOR S.A.” company, producing timepieces for both men and women. His other company, Rolex, would guarantee the technical, aesthetic, and functional features, along with the distribution and after-sales service. TUDOR launched its first advertisements in 1948. The ads clearly associated TUDOR with Rolex, both in the text and the logo.
Tudor is probably best known for its dive watches. The French Navy (Marine Nationale) played a crucial role in creating a Tudor diving watch. The French Navy was the brand’s research and development partner in the field, providing detailed feedback about what worked well and not so well.
In 1954, Tudor launched its first diving watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner reference 7922, waterproof to 100 meters. In 1958, they increased this to 200 meters, a big deal at the time. These watches are very popular with collectors and fetch significant sums at auctions.
Throughout Tudor’s diving watch history, the brand has grown, improved, and added various features to its dive watches. At the center of each of their dive watches, though, is the initial Submariner model from 1954, which took its inspiration from the Rolex Submariner, still in production today.
In 2009, Tudor announced a major relaunch. For many years, the Tudor brand had just been the poorer sibling of Rolex, lacking its own identity. At the same time, Tudor has a long and rich history and a reputation for making high-quality precision watches.
In 2012 Tudor released the Heritage Black Bay, a reinterpretation of the early Tudor Submariner models, and the Pelagos diver’s watch. Both of these models were an instant success, particularly the Heritage Black Bay. Tudor took all of the things from their vintage dive watches that collectors and enthusiasts alike loved and put them into one watch.
It is hardly a secret that Tudor is owned by Rolex, which in turn is owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Tudor produces an estimated 250’000 watches per year.
From 1957 to 1963, Tudor produced the thinnest watch ever made at only 6 mm thick! Tudor made only a small number of these timepieces, and they remain one of the most sought-after Tudor models by collectors.