Tudor vs Rolex: What’s the Difference?
Watch enthusiasts and newbies alike would know that Tudor is Rolex’s sister company. The brand has been making waves since their revamp in 2010, releasing hits such as the Tudor Black Bay and Pelagos. While Tudor was generally known as Rolex’s more affordable younger sibling, the brand has quickly come into its own.
This reignited the persistent question about the two brands: if the same company owns Rolex and Tudor, what is the difference between their watches?
Let’s learn a bit more about their similarities and key differences.
“For some years now, I have been considering the idea of making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches, and yet one that would attain the standard of dependability for which Rolex is famous.” – Hans Wilsdorf
Rolex’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, created Tudor in 1926 – just six years after he established Rolex. His intent was to create a viable, but more affordable alternative to the powerhouse brand of his watchmaking empire.
Wilsdorf was bent on making Tudor succeed, so he bestowed two very important elements of the Rolex brand to Tudor – the Oyster case and the self-winding ‘rotor’ movement.
Two of Tudor’s most popular styles: Tudor Pelagos and Tudor Heritage Black Bay
The brand then created more accessible versions of Rolex’s watches, such as the Tudor Submariner ref 7922, released just one year after the Rolex Submariner was launched; as well as the Oyster and Prince lines.
Over the years, Tudor became known as Rolex’s lesser known sibling, the watch brand that one buys when they want a Rolex but couldn’t quite afford it yet.
This all changed however, with Tudor’s re-emergence in 2010. With their nostalgic, vintage-inspired releases like the Chrono, Pelagos, and Black Bay – Tudor was able to forge its own identity. Today, it’s the choice of a crowd that wants robust tool watches, without the obvious status symbol.
TUDOR vs ROLEX:
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Tudor is no longer seen as Rolex’s second fiddle, and its watches are seen as good options to their parent company’s. Let’s dissect the elements that make the two brands different.
Tudor has taken inspiration from many of Rolex’s designs, then and now. (L-R) vintage Rolex Submariner, Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi 126710, vintage Tudor Submariner, and Tudor Black Bay GMT watch.
Until recently, the main difference between Rolex and Tudor was their movements. Rolex has been using in-house movements since 2004, when they purchased outright the manufacturing facility that makes their calibers.
Tudor, meanwhile, ran on movements created by renowned Swiss manufacturer ETA SA or Valjoux.
This distinguishing factor all changed when, in 2015, Tudor launched their first ever in-house movement: the Cal. MT5621. It first appeared in their North Flag line; but the caliber has been applied to the rest of their portfolio.
One of Rolex’s most iconic designs – the Rolex Submariner
Rolex is known for using only the finest materials, and for even manufacturing their own metals. Since 2005, Rolex has been creating the gold, platinum, and stainless steel alloys used for their watches in their own foundry.
In fact, all the 18k gold they use in their watches are proprietary, especially mixed by the company to ensure maximum luxury and durability.
Meanwhile, most other watch brands use standard 316L stainless steel alloys for their watches or source their metals from third parties. Such is the case with Tudor, and this is one of the factors that determine their price range.
However, the build quality, engineering, and technical prowess used for Tudor watches are still identical to that of Rolex watches, so you’ll still get a timepiece that’s accurate and robust.
Tudor has become the company’s avenue for design experimentation. Pictured: Tudor Big Block Vintage Mens Watches
Rolex has instantly recognizable designs – from the classic Rolex Datejust to the ruggedly elegant Rolex Submariner.
The current line-up of Rolex watches have designs that have been around since the 1940s – 1950s, and have changed very little. As they say, Rolex watches only make way for technical advancements, and their timeless designs only go through “evolutions” rather then revolution.
Tudor, meanwhile, has been the company’s avenue for experimentation, and this makes their watch designs markedly different from Rolex.
While some models like the Tudor Submariner are overtly inspired by their Rolex counterpart, Tudor watches have been more adventurous – using materials like Titanium, cloth watch straps, as well as busier designs that are not found in Rolex watches.
WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
With Tudor now carving its own identity in the watch world, getting one no longer means “settling” for a more affordable Rolex.
If you want a reliable luxury watch with unmatched legacy, go for a Rolex. If you’re after a robust watch with a more adventurous design, then Tudor is your best bet.
At the end of the day, there is no definitive answer – only that Rolex and Tudor sure make the best watches, in their respective price ranges.