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Bridging the Gap: Rolex and Tudor

November 5, 2018

BY Paul Altieri

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While Rolex is a brand that needs no introduction, its sister company, Tudor is slightly less of a household name. Tudor has a long and storied history that dates back to 1926; however for the vast majority of its existence, it has been (understandably) caught in the colossal shadow of its parent company, Rolex.

Tudor has enjoyed an injection of popularity as of late, but it hasn't always gotten the same love

Tudor has enjoyed an injection of popularity as of late, but it hasn’t always gotten the same love as Rolex

Since its creation, the Tudor brand has always intended to be a more affordable alternative to Rolex. Consequently, there has historically been a significant difference in the watches that were produced by these two brands – a direct result of Tudor’s lower price point. However, in more recent years, it seems that Tudor is aiming to bridge some of the gap that has historically existed between these two manufacturers.

Rolex initially built their now-legendary reputation on the shoulders of their robust and water-resistant Oyster case, and in the past, Tudor was able to achieve its more modest price-point by using generic movements and Rolex-manufactured case components. Although the internals of Tudor watches were identical to those found inside timepieces from a number of other manufacturers, their Rolex-manufactured cases ensured that they would still offer the same degree of water-resistance and durability for which Rolex timepieces were known.

The Tudor Pelagos is one of the few watches in their catalogue with an in-house movement

The Tudor Pelagos is one of the few watches in their catalogue with an in-house movement

In recent years, Tudor has started manufacturing their own movements, and packing into them some of the same technologies that are only just now getting implemented into Rolex’s own, in-house movements. Additionally, a number of other modern technologies such as scratch-resistant ceramic bezels and titanium cases are now making appearances on Tudor’s various watches, allowing their offerings to be just as technologically advanced as Rolex’s contemporary timepieces.

Tudor’s in-house movements and Rolex’s latest generation of 32xx series, in-house calibers have a number of similarities, despite being from “different” manufacturers. Both movements use variable inertia balances with non-magnetic hairsprings; both have bearing-mounted, bidirectional-winding rotors; and both offer power reserves of approximately 70 hours. Rolex’s in-house movements boast additional “Superlative Chronometer” certifications that promise accuracy beyond the COSC parameters of Tudor’s in-house movements. However with COSC tolerances being as tight as they are, any actual difference in real-world timekeeping will be a few seconds per day at the absolute most.

Both the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Tudor Pelagos are modern and technologically advanced, mechanical dive watches with a touch of vintage design inspiration. Both watches have self-winding, chronometer-certified, in-house movements with 70-hour power reserves; both have scratch-resistant, ceramic bezel inserts and sapphire crystals; and both are fitted with helium gas escape valves, which allow the watches to be used for saturation diving applications. While the Pelagos has a depth rating of 500 meters – less than half that of the Sea-Dweller – it also boasts a full-titanium construction, and costs significantly less than half the price of the Sea-Dweller.

The Tudor Heritage Bronze is one of the latest releases from the esteemed watch brand

The Tudor Heritage Bronze is one of the latest releases from the esteemed watch brand

Since Rolex is the parent company of Tudor, the two brands will never be in direct competition with one another. However, as Rolex occupies an increasingly more luxury-oriented position within the high-end timepiece market, Tudor is perfectly positioned to cater to the numerous buyers for whom a Rolex may now be slightly out of their price range. Additionally, with the ongoing implementation of in-house movements throughout Tudor’s various watch lines, the actual performance differences between offerings from these two brands will be less than ever before.

Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf, started the Tudor watch company with the vision of creating a brand that could offer the same standard of dependability for which Rolex was famous, but at a lower, more-modest price point. Today, nearly a full century later, Tudor is closer to realizing that vision than ever before, and their latest generation of watches with in-house movements is now just a couple steps behind the flagship offerings from their legendary parent company.

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