Watch Review

Vintage Tudor Submariner 7928

Paul Altieri

When it comes to vintage dive watches, it is hard to beat the classic purpose-built elegance of the Tudor Submariner 7928. These days, Tudor watches have their own distinct design language, but for a significant portion of the brand’s history, Tudor’s watches shared case components with their Rolex siblings, and it is these models that are often the most interesting for watch enthusiasts to study and collect.

With prices for vintage Rolex Submariner watches continuously on the rise each year, a lot of collectors have been turning their attention to vintage Tudor Submariner models, which can often be purchased for significantly more reasonable sums compared to their Rolex-branded counterparts. As prices for vintage Rolex classics like reference 5512 and 5513 Submariner watches become increasingly unattainable, models like the Tudor Submariner 7928 offer a lot of value for collectors who are looking to own a legitimate piece of dive watch history.

Vintage Tudor Submariner 7928

Vintage Tudor Submariner 7928

Tudor Submariner 7928 Key Features:

  • Reference Number: 7928
  • Year of Introduction: 1959
  • Case Size: 39mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel
  • Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Rotating Timing Bezel
  • Bezel: Bidirectional, Black Aluminum Insert w/ 60- Minute Scale
  • Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers
  • Luminous Material: Radium or Tritium
  • Crystal: Acrylic (Domed)
  • Movement: Caliber 390 (Self-Winding)
  • Water Resistance: 200 Meters / 660 Feet
  • Strap/Bracelet: Stainless Steel Oyster Bracelet
  • Approx. Price: $9,000 – $45,000 (Pre-Owned)

Click here to learn more about the history of Tudor watches.

Vintage Tudor Submariner 7928

About Tudor Submariner Watches

Tudor actually functions as a separate company from Rolex, despite the fact that Tudor is owned by the greater Rolex parent company. Original Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf wanted to create a company that could create a product that was as durable and reliable as a Rolex but at a more affordable price point. Originally, Tudor was able to achieve this by using Rolex cases fitted with third-party movements, which allowed its watches to offer all of the same water resistance as their Rolex siblings. As a result of this brand positioning, Tudor watches have always symbolized affordable quality, and long-lasting performance.

The Tudor Submariner is a great example of the brand’s on-going commitment to offer high-quality alternatives to Rolex’s products, and for almost as long as Rolex has been selling dive watches, Tudor has also been creating timepieces specifically for scuba divers and the underwater world. In terms of water resistance, it is here where the difference between the Tudor and Rolex watches becomes virtually negligible.

Tudor watches were required to meet very strict standards of quality in order to be sold by Rolex’s retail network, and their shared case components guaranteed identical water resistance. In fact, the only real tangible difference between vintage Tudor and Rolex dive watches was the type of movements. Although the Rolex might be more accurate, the Tudor Submariner was still required to be water-resistant to the same depth as its Rolex-branded counterpart.

Vintage Tudor Submariner Reference 7928

The Details Of The Tudor Submariner 7928

The Tudor Submariner reference 7928 could essentially be seen as the Tudor equivalent of either a reference 5512 or 5513 Rolex Submariner. Just like the Rolex ref. 5512, the Tudor Submariner 7928 arrived in 1959 and introduced a larger case with crown guards to Tudor’s dive watch collection. Additionally, just like its Rolex-branded sibling, the Tudor ref. 7928 offered a no-date display with Mercedes-style hands and a black rotating timing bezel, and early examples can even be found with chapter ring dials and square crown guards.

However, one rather notable difference is the dial text on the vintage Tudor Submariner 7928. Below the depth rating and the Submariner name are the words “Rotor” and “Self-winding” with the final line of text printed in an upward-facing curved script. Sometimes referred to as “Smiley Dials” due to their last line of writing looking like a big smile, this unusual design detail is unique to Tudor and you will not find it on vintage Rolex dials from the same era.

Additionally, just like its Rolex-branded cousins, surviving examples of the Tudor Submariner ref. 7928 can be found with a surprising range of variation in regards to its dials, bezels, hands, and crown guards, and the ref. 7928 holds the title of being the most diverse single reference in Tudor’s vintage Submariner lineup. This further adds to the excitement for today’s collectors and makes the ref. 7928 a popular target for vintage Tudor enthusiasts.

Vintage Tudor Submariner 7928

The Value Proposition of Tudor Submariner Watches

With the exception of its movement, the vintage Tudor Submariner 7928 checks all of the same boxes as some of Rolex’s most celebrated vintage dive watches, yet it can often be purchased for a fraction of the price. Granted, vintage Tudor Submariner watches are still fairly expensive timepieces, as they come from one of the world’s most respected watch manufacturers and offer a fascinating history that includes everything from aquatic exploration to military use. However, everything is relative, and when you compare the price of vintage Tudor Submariner models to those produced by Rolex, the term “value proposition” does inevitably come to mind.

While Tudor is undoubtedly Rolex’s more affordable sibling company, the brand has more than enough merits to stand on its own two feet. Tudor Submariner watches have been issued to members of numerous military branches including the Marine Nationale during the glory days of the mechanical wristwatch, and while they may never reach quite the same eye-wateringly expensive values as vintage Rolex watches, that is precisely what makes them so enjoyable to collect.

Vintage Tudor Submariner 7928
Paul Altieri

Paul is the company's Founder and CEO. He is responsible for all the day to day activities from purchasing, receiving, marketing and sales. Paul is a graduate of Boston College 1979 and resides in California with his family.

8 Comments
  1. I bought a. 7928 in 1971 while in the navy stationed in Germany. I bought it from another sailor for $160. I have worn it since and only have had the crystal replaced twice. Never serviced. It looses about 1 minute a day but I don’t care .

    My problem is the watch band. About forgive years ago I took off the original and now have a $90 aftermarket band on it. It’s ok.

    I would love to have the original ban restored. It is the stretchy one, with spring loaded links. Some are just plain worn out so it doesn’t look or fit well.

    Please, can you advise me as to how to have the original band repaired. There is some shop in Hong Kong that people seem to like. Can you help me

    George medzerian

    • Hello George-

      Very cool story! I bet it’s a beauty.

      Michael Young in Hong Kong is the bracelet magician and the man for the job. He can restore it back to new for about $300.

      Take care,
      Joe

  2. I have a 7928 that needs serious professional help.

    Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anyone who can repair it.

    As I understand it, it is missing some of the parts that work as one way stops to make the auto winding mechanism work. The winding tube was changed out to a different Tudor model.

    The watch has HUGE sentimental value, I could care less about what it’s $ value is. I just want to be able to wear it.

    I was thinking about swapping out the internal movement for something that uses a battery.

    I’m sure someone, somewhere would consider this sacrilege, but I just care about the case and watch face. It was a gift to my grandfather, and I want to wear it.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Our advice would be to NOT swap out the movement and try to find a qualified independent watchmaker who can source the correct replacement components. The fact that your watch is a Tudor rather than a Rolex is in your favor since parts are slightly easier to track down from this era compared to their Rolex counterparts. It will almost certainly not be a swift (or inexpensive) repair process and it may take quite some time to source all the necessary parts, but this will be the far superior solution, as it maintains the integrity of the watch and means that future repairs will be easier to perform since the watch is as it should be, rather than being a mix of a bunch of components that were not meant to go together.
      You may also want to consider purchasing a watch that you can use as a donor movement since it sounds like you may need a number of components, and sourcing a complete watch may be easier and less expensive than trying to source each component individually, but every effort should be made to repair the original movement, rather than taking the quick approach and potentially ruining the watch in the long term.

      • Do you have anyone you would recommend to fix the watch? I have tried countless Rolex dealers, including Rolex themselves.

        • Your best bet will likely be a qualified independent watchmaker, but as far as finding the right one up to the task, you may have some luck asking for references on the various forums.

  3. I have a ’66 7928. I’m looking for a “rose” face vs. the “shield” face that I have. I replaced the face many years ago with one that has a “shield,” and would like to go back to an original type. I can’t seem to find one. Any suggestions?

    • The style of dial you are after is a discontinued one, so your only option will be to try to source one on the open market. It also happens to be a rather rare and desirable one too, so there simply aren’t that many floating around that aren’t already inside a watch. All of that being said, you may have some luck asking around on the various forums or checking with some independent parts warehouses.