It’s an odd time to be reviewing the Tudor 1926. I can’t be bothered to shave, never mind pick out a dress shirt to complement a dress watch. Luckily, the entry-level TUDOR looks swanky from six-feet away no matter what you’re wearing. Besides . . .
what wristwatch goes with a green silk scarf doubling as a surgical face mask?
Never mind. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (currently advised not to touch their eyes under any circumstances). So what do you think of TUDOR 1926’s looks? Wait! Don’t answer!
TUDOR sells the 1926 in nine dial and bracelet combinations, in four sizes (28mm, 36mm, 39mm and 41mm), for a total of 36 variations. It’s entirely possible to like one 1926 and wrinkle your nose at another. The two-tone black-and-gold 1926, for example, projects a Datejust on a diet vibe. On a budget? That too.
In contrast, the opaline and blue dial 41mm TUDOR 1926 reviewed here is as elegant as a Wedgewood Gio teacup, as unpretentious as Mike Rowe at a plumbers’ convention. And unlike so many of TUDOR’s watches, the 1926 has no apparent connection to any modern Rolex design. Nor, strangely, the year that inspired its name.
In 1926, a Melbourne jeweler registered the trademark “The TUDOR” to sell co-branded Rolex in the land down under. The TUDOR 1926 doesn’t draw inspiration from the resulting Catanach watch – if only because the timepiece appeared six years later.
If anything, the 1926 harkens back to the first Rolex TUDORs of 1947 – watches that depended on a utilitarian layout (three hands, round dial, even-numbered indices). Updated for modern times (date window, applied indices), the 1926 remains simple and legible – with a soupçon of spizzarkle.
Specifically, arrow indices and embossed dial – an obvious throwback to the 1950’s “honeycomb” Rolexes.
The texture adds interest to what could have been a boring design; the 41mm 1926 has more negative space than MSNBC. The watch relies on the dial’s waffling and those arrow-shaped hour markers and sword-shaped hands to lift it from mundanity.
The indices’ color change trick – they’re either jet black or bright blue depending on the angle of the light filtering through the glare-free crystal – also helps keep boredom at bay.
But it’s the 1926’s seven-row steel bracelet that both defines and elevates the watch. The combination of satin-brushed outer links and mirror polished middle links straddles the line between bling and bad ass, sporty and dressy.
Not full-on dressy. More like macho glam. A style cranked up to eleven by big brother Rolex’s Jubilee bracelet gold Datejust; dialed down to six by the TUDOR 1926.
The more demure 1926 is a watch for all seasons. Tipping the scales at 4.9 ozs., the 50mm tall TUDOR’s light and comfortable. Water resistant to 100m (330 ft.), it’s happy to go for a swim or endure endless hand washing.
It’s also a watch you can wear playing tennis – repeated shocks to the top grade ETA 2824 underneath the closed caseback won’t throw the 1926 off its game. The safety clasp snicks home with reassuring finality, ready to withstand the most energetic volleys against a garage wall. (The tennis ball, not the watch.)
Some see the TUDOR 1926 as more meh than meisterwerk. I reckon the opaline TUDOR 1926 is distinctive enough to distinguish itself from the monochromatic Longines Records of this world, but not so different that its appeal will fade over time.
The TUDOR 1926 may not thrill jaded horophiles, but it’s a reliable and affordable step up from the majority of mass-produced dress watches. As far as status goes, the chances of spotting one in the wild are practically nil. These days, anyway.
MODEL: TUDOR 1926 (opaline and blue dial, steel bracelet)
LIST PRICE: $1950
Case: 41mm steel case with polished finish
Dial: Opaline, embossed decoration, blue hour markers and hands, date window at 3 o’clock
Crown: Steel screw-down winding crown with the TUDOR logo in relief
Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Bracelet: Steel, seven rows, satin-brushed external links, polished centre links, folding clasp and safety catch
Movement: Self-winding mechanical movement, ETA Top Grade caliber 2824
Functions: Hour, minute, date
Power reserve: 38 hours
Water Resistance: 100m (330 ft)
Weight: 4.9 ozs.
RATINGS (our of five stars):
Design * * * * *
Some say it’s ditchwater dull. I say it’s a minimalist masterpiece with dynamic details.
Legibility * * * *
Ideal, save lack of lume.
Comfort * * * * *
The seven-link bracelet conforms to the wrist for all-day comfort at rest or play.
Overall * * * * *
The TUDOR 1926 is a handsome, accurate, reliable, durable, go-anywhere, semi-bling dress watch; priced for both the short and long term.