In 1954, the Tudor Submariner was released, looking suspiciously like the Rolex Submariner that was launched a year earlier. While it adopted many of the design cues of the famed Rolex including the iconic waterproofed Oyster case, the Tudor Submariner aptly fulfilled the wish of founder Hans Wilsdorf, who also founded Rolex, for a watch that was in every way like a Rolex, only cheaper.
For decades, the main difference separating parent company Rolex and Tudor are the movements - the former is equipped with those made in-house while the latter acquired them from a third-party supplier, namely ETA, hence the more accessible prices.
The period after the 1980s, however, saw Tudor overshadowed by the dazzling fame of Rolex – that is until its revival in 2009 led by then CEO Philippe Peverelli who focused on reintroducing and reinforcing Wilsdorf’s original vision for the brand, that of a great watch with great value. Part of the strategy was breathing new life into historical models that would form the brand’s backbone, the Heritage family of watches.
Three years into this rebranding exercise, Tudor hit gold with the revival of the 1954 Submariner, better known today as the Black Bay. The vintage-inspired timepiece, wrapped in polished and satin-finished case with a burgundy bezel, was a runaway hit with visitors at Baselworld 2012.
And proving that it was no flash in the pan, the Black Bay was awarded not only the best Revival at GPHG (horology’s version of the Oscars) but its retro-tastic bronze rendition and chronograph version also received the “Petite Aiguille” Prize (for watches retailing below CHF 8,000 or about RM32,000) in 2016 and 2017 respectively
Water-resistant up to 200m, the Black Bay is an incredibly well built dive-inspired watch that took the best design cues from the early years when the Tudor diver was much sought after. It is recognisable for its domed dial, Snowflake hands as well as hour markers distinguished by a triangle at ‘12’, rectangles at ‘3’, ‘6’ and ‘9’, and circles for the rest.
The growing family welcomes four new members this year including a GMT and a steel-and-gold model.
Find out which new Tudor watch also made it to our favourite Baselworld list here