Tudor vs Rolex – What’s the Difference?

Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi and Tudor Black Bay GMT

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 collection and the 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.

Tudor’s Beginnings

“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

tudor-history-oyster-prince-submariner-marine-nationale-carrousel-02_desktop copy
Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner (photo: Tudor)

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.

Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner
Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner (photo: Tudor)

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 ChronoPelagos, 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?

Today, 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.

Rolex Datejust Steel Yellow Gold Anniversary Dial Watches
Rolex Datejust Steel Yellow Gold Anniversary Dial Watches

Brand Identity

Tudor and Rolex have established their own brand identities. As the younger brand, Tudor has become an avenue for the company to experiment with new materials and bolder styles.

Rolex has established a prestigious and professional identity. The identity of Rolex is found in legacy with a rich history, and occupies a more luxury-oriented position than that of Tudor.

Hence, majority of Rolex’s collections are legacy models such as the Submariner, Daytona, and Datejust, which have been around for decades. They also use more traditional materials such as steel and precious metals, and as of 2005, has been famously making all their materials in-house, in their very own foundry. In fact, in an effort to control the quality of their materials, they even have their own blend of alloys, such as the Everose gold and Oystersteel.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Harrods and GMT
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Watches: Steel Black Dial, Harrods Edition, and GMT

Their choice of ambassadors also further the image of status and success associated with Rolex. Friends of the brand are usually the most prominent persons in their fields – from tennis legend Roger Federer to filmmakers like James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.

Tudor watches, while being under the same parent company, presents itself as independent, cool, and experimental, all while drawing inspiration from the brand’s vintage models.

Tudor’s designs are bolder in nature, and typically use stainless steel, or experiment with the use of more rugged materials like bronze, titanium, and nylon. Their ambassadors are known for pushing boundaries, like David Beckham with his trailblazing personal style, and Lady Gaga with her provocative music.

Even though Tudor is still a luxury brand, it is more avant garde than Rolex, and these watches are meant to be slightly more down-to-earth than Rolex watches are.

Rolex Sports Watches with Blue Dials and Bezels
Rolex Sports Watches with Blue Dials and Bezels

Design and Aesthetics

Rolex has instantly recognizable designs – from the classic Rolex Datejust to the ruggedly elegant Rolex Submariner. Even people who do not collect watches would immediately recognize a Rolex timepiece.

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 than 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 bronze, cloth watch straps, as well as busier designs that are not found in Rolex watches.

Rolex Submariner Hulk and Kermit Tudor Black Bay Harrods
Rolex Submariner Hulk and Kermit & Tudor Black Bay Harrods


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 in-house calibers are slowly being applied to the rest of their portfolio, along with modified ETA movements.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ad Tudor Monarch in Steel and Gold
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and Tudor Monarch in Steel and Gold


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 especially mixed by the company to ensure maximum luxury and durability. As of 2018, Rolex has also been using Oystersteel in their watches, a specially developed alloy that belongs to the 904L steel family.

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.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Steel Models
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Steel Models


Rolex and Tudor are both luxury watch brands. However, even though these are both in the business of making fine timepieces, the prices between Tudor and Rolex watches show quite a difference.

Tudor has a more entry-level price range, and is one of the top choices for those who are just starting out with buying luxury brands.

Rolex, on the other hand, establishes its prestige with its high-end prices. The price of a Rolex watch is oftentimes double the price of a Tudor watch.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Black Dial Mens Watch 79730
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Black Dial Mens Watch 79730

Take for example, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual versus the Tudor Black Bay. These models, particularly the stainless steel, neutral-dial models, are considered the entry models of the brand.

Rolex, at retail, has a considerably high entry price point: an Oyster Perpetual 36mm is priced at $6,100 as of April 2023. That can be a barrier for those who are just starting their watch collection.

Tudor, meanwhile, is well below the $5,000 mark: a Tudor Black Bay 36 is priced at $3,200 as of April 2023.

Comparing Rolex vs Tudor Models

Rolex Submariner Kermit & Tudor Black Bay Harrods
Rolex Submariner Kermit & Tudor Black Bay Harrods

When comparing the models, it is important to consider design, price, quality, and themes. There are many qualities between both Tudor and Rolex watch models that make them similar, considering that they are from the same parent company, but there are select differences that can help you decide which brand is the right one for you.

Tudor watches have a sporty design across almost all of their models. The Tudor aesthetic is modern, sleek, and sporty to give the wearer a watch that fits their speed. Rolex also has many sporty watches, but many of them are fancy enough to also be worn in formal settings. A Rolex Submariner, despite being a dive watch, is also commonly worn with suits and even tuxedos.

Tudor Black Bay Chrono Panda
Tudor Black Bay Chrono Panda

Both Tudor and Rolex have very high-quality watches, but Rolex has the most premium pieces within their watch. Tudor has been working on having even higher quality watches and is slowly trying to bridge the gap when it comes to quality.

There are a fair number of Rolex-inspired watches in the Tudor catalog, and putting them side by side will help us understand the difference between the two brands better.

Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi and Tudor Black Bay GMT Watches
Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi and Tudor Black Bay GMT Watches

Tudor Black Bay GMT vs Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi

These two watches are some of the brand’s most popular watch models. They are both made with great design and give off a sporty-luxe look when you are wearing either one of them.

Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi Bezel Oyster Steel Mens Watch 126710
Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi Bezel Oyster Steel Mens Watch 126710BLRO

The Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi barely needs any introduction. The first GMT watch of Rolex, it was first introduced in 1954, as a commission from Pan Am Airways. With the development of transatlantic travel, they wanted to give their pilots a timepiece that can display multiple time zones. The blue-red bezel of the GMT-Master Pepsi was derived from the official colors of Pan Am, and has been a hallmark of the collection since.

The Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi is still being produced today, and its latest version comes in stainless steel (ref 126710BLRO). This watch, in true GMT-Master II fashion, shows three time zones using the bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel, which works hand in hand with the 24-hour arrow-tipped hand.

This version of the Pepsi comes with extra luxe features. First, instead of a standard stainless steel case, this watch has an Oystersteel case. It also features a Triplock triple waterproof system that provides 100m water resistance, a bi-colored Cerachrom ceramic bezel insert, a cyclops magnifier above the date, and a COSC-certified Caliber 3285 movement, which is accurate to -2/+2 seconds per day. As of April 2023, it retails for $10,700.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pepsi Bezel Mens Watch 79830
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pepsi Bezel Mens Watch 79830

In 2018, Tudor introduced the Black Bay GMT (ref 79830RB), a homage to the GMT-Master II Pepsi. That is apparent with the blue-and-red bi-colored bezel on the watch.

The Tudor Black Bay GMT is an affordable and fantastic watch with many of the similar qualities of the GMT-Master II Pepsi.

It has a 41mm stainless steel case with a gorgeous satin finish. You can see both the GMT time and date with this watch’s Calibre MT5652, which also offers a 70-hour power reserve.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pepsi Steel and Steel Yellow Gold Watches
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pepsi Steel and Steel Yellow Gold Watches

Main differences with the GMT-Master II Pepsi would be that the bezel features the iconic blue-and-red colors in an anodized aluminum disk; the 24-hour hand comes with a snowflake design, which is Tudor’s signature; and the movement offers a precision of -4/+6 seconds per day.

Overall, you get your money’s worth with this watch while looking stylish and professional.

As of April 2023, the retail price of the Tudor Black Bay GMT is $4,300, making it one of the more affordable GMT luxury watches out there.

Tudor Submariner Prince Oysterdate Black Dial Steel Mens Watch 76100
Tudor Submariner Prince Oysterdate Black Dial Steel Mens Watch 76100

Tudor Submariner vs Rolex Submariner

If you’re into vintage watches, the Tudor Submariner is an excellent alternative to the iconic Rolex Submariner. It was produced from 1955 to 1999, which means you can only get one from the secondary watch market.

Both the Rolex Submariner and Tudor Submariner watches have a rugged, sporty design, and were introduced when diving became a popular sport in the mid-20th century.

Rolex Submariner Steel Models
Rolex Submariner Steel Models: ref 1680, 16610, and 124060

The Rolex Submariner came out in 1953 while the Tudor Submariner came out in 1954. True to Hans Wilsdorf’s vision, the Tudor Submariner offered the water resistance and dive watch capabilities of the Submariner, but at a more modest price point.

The main differences were in the movements they used: Tudor Submariners were powered by third-party movements, while Rolex created theirs in-house. Moreover, Tudor’s movements were not chronometer certified, whereas Rolex’s movements were.

Both watches have gained popularity over the years, and while the Rolex Submariner continues to be produced and the Tudor Submariner has been retired, it is still sought after among watch collectors, especially the ones who are into vintage models.

Are Tudor watches as good as Rolex watches?

For many years, getting a Tudor watch was just seen as an affordable alternative to Rolex. While many more people bought Tudor watches due to their more affordable nature, it wasn’t as seen as good of an option as Rolex. However, this thought process has significantly changed, and both Tudor and Rolex watches are seen as prestigious, in their own way.

Tudor watches are just as good as Rolex watches considering they are made with many of the same materials from their parent company. As Tudor continues to grow as a brand, it will continue to become more and more similar to Rolex watches, while still hopefully keeping the same price range.

Rolex Submariner Hulk and Kermit & Tudor Black Bay Harrods Watches
Rolex Submariner Hulk and Kermit Tudor Black Bay Harrods Watches

Even though Tudor watches don’t always have all the same features that Rolex watches have, Tudor watches perform just as well. The time-keeping capabilities of Tudor watches are similar to that of modern Rolex models prior to the most recent 32XX movements (that is, with -4/+6 seconds per day precision).

The choice of materials, as well as the often bolder and more colorful designs of Tudor watches, has established them as a maker of reliable yet stylish tool watches, without any of the status symbols that often come with a Rolex, such as precious metals or diamonds.

Both brands have their strengths, and it’s all a part of Rolex’s strategy as their parent company.

Tudor vs Rolex : 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-esque watch.

With the similarities that the two brands of watches have, you will find that both Tudor and Rolex watches will give you a premium time-telling experience while having a professional accessory to complete your look.

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. They deliver top quality when it comes to watches and both are highly respected brands. With that, choose the watch model that speaks to you the most.

Ready to explore your options? Check out our vast selection of Rolex and Tudor watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.

Rolex Submariner Ultimate Guide


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