Tudor or Rolex? A Buyer’s Guide


Tudor or Rolex - wok around the clock

Tudor is Rolex’s little brother, occupying the price point Rolex abandoned on its way to fame and fortune. Rolex is Rolex – one of the world’s strongest brands, selling an entire range of iconic watches. Even so, Tudor has reached the point where it may be the better choice. Tudor or Rolex? Let’s have a look . . .

Tudor or Rolex? Quality/Price

“Are Rolex that good?” a Timex-wearing cigar smoker asked me the other day. Yes, I said without hesitation. While Rolex makes some 1m watches per year, they make them exceedingly well. Dials, cases, movements, bracelets – Geneva’s favorite son produces sky-high quality products, magnificent down to the smallest detail, subject to stringent quality control.

Tudor P01 A rose by any other name?

Ditto Tudor. Watch nerds may split hairsprings, but there’s not a lot in it. Sure, Tudor uses 316L steel, as opposed to Rolex’s corrosion-resistant 904L superalloy. And? A rose by any other name still won’t rust. More generally, a Tudor timepiece is just as precisely built, robust, reliable and accurate as a Rolex. Both brands are covered by a five-year warranty; both are sold and serviced by the same dealer network.

Rolex Caliber 3255

Traditionally, Rolex’s phenomenal in-house watch movements separated them from their mass market sib. Tudor timepieces relied on temporal engines built by ETA or Valjoux. That changed in 2015. Facing the looming elimination of ETA sales to non-SWATCH brands, Tudor introduced their own MT series caliber.

Carpet diem

The MT currently keeps time inside Tudor’s Black Bay and Pegalos collection – it’s set to spread across the rest of the line. Is Tudor’s new movement as good as Rolex’s? If it isn’t, it’s close enough to the point where you’re free to wonder why anyone would pay thousands – if not tens of thousands – more for a Rolex.

Tudor or Rolex? Style

Rolex watches are instantly identifiable, even amongst people who can’t name another watch brand. Rolex recognition stifles the Swiss watchmakers’ creativity – the company’s profitability depends on a steady-as-she-goes approach to aesthetics. Their artisans can bedazzle, bling and evolve their watches, but they can’t dance this mess around.

Tudor vs. Rolex: the Tudor Heritage Advisor

Free from fame’s demands, Tudor can and does experiment with dials, colors, sizes and materials. For example, Tudor’s released a line of 12 titanium watches and hopped on the bronze bandwagon. The Heritage Advisor is a featherweight phenom; the Black Bay Bronze is an elegant combination of a copper-colored case with a bronze-colored steel caseback.

Tudor vs. Rolex: Black Bay 41As handsome as they are, Tudors’ greatest style advantage over Rolex is that they aren’t a Rolex (except when they’re a Submariner). A Tudor is a Rolex that doesn’t look like a Rolex. It doesn’t carry that “Look! I have a Rolex!” baggage.

That said, most consumers can’t afford a Rolex, no matter how much they love the style. Lucky for them, lower-priced Tudor’s got its mojo rising. And quite a funky mojo it is too.

Tudor or Rolex? Branding

EC was here

The entire world believes Rolex stands for quality, exclusivity and success. If you’re willing to pay a premium to project that image, anywhere on the planet, Rolex can’t be beat.

Tudor vs. Rolex branding Lady Gaga

Tudor’s marketing mavens would have you view the brand as daring. Edgy. Yes, well, Tudor’s watch designs are hardly “daring.” By the same token, most people aren’t daring or edgy. But if you want to buy into that image, Tudor’s happy to take your money.

Tudor or Rolex? The choice is yours - if you have the money

BottoM line

Tudor is a value proposition, just as it was when the brand began. It’s Rolex quality that doesn’t cost Rolex money and doesn’t say Rolex. If you want to save money and wear top-notch horology on the DL, Tudor’s your huckleberry. If you like your Rolex, if you can afford your Rolex, you can keep your Rolex. (After you buy it.) Either way, no regrets.

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