Question Time: Are Tudor Watches A Good Investment?
If you own a Tudor or want to buy a Tudor, you have landed on the right page. Many enthusiasts and collectors have burning questions on the tip of their timekeeping tongues. Are Tudor watches a good investment? Does Tudor hold its value? Is buying a Tudor like buying a Rolex?
Ever since Hans Wilsdorf decided to take over in 1936 and rename “Veuve de Philippe Hüther”, Tudor 1946, the brand has moved from strength to strength.
They have taken a few of Rolex’s developments like the Oyster case and introduced it into their Tudor Oyster Prince, as well as the patented Perpetual winding system. Their impact on the dive watch world with the iconic Tudor Submariner in the 1950s and the innovative use of bronze recently in their Black Bay Bronze delivers a wealth of talent and manufacturing prowess within the ranks of Tudor. Seems like this Swiss brand is stepping out of their bigger brother’s shadow. They have really upped their game with a celebrity following that’s a who’s who of the creme de la creme.
Worn by a variety of high society clientele such as ambassador David Beckham and popstar Lady Gaga, Tudor watches are worn by the best and greatest in their respective fields. Suffice to say, their sales record of CHF 550 million ( or just under £500 million) in 2021 is through grit and high quality, now reaching the astonishing 14th position for top Swiss watch brands in 2020, from not even making the top 20 in 2017.
Right then. We’ll save our tongues for salivating over some Tudor collections and get straight into it. Are you ready to find out if Tudor watches are a good investment? Let’s find out.
Brief History of Tudor Watches
Tudor has always been the affordable route into Rolex.
Submariner - Source - Sotheby’s
This is by no means a freak accident either. When Hans Wilsdorf took over “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” in 1936 and renamed it Tudor in 1946, Hans Wilsdorf had a plan to make watches which were not only affordable but offered Rolex parts to ensure the pristine quality and supreme accuracy of these models.
It must be noted that Rolex didn’t use their own movements inside of Tudor models. In fact, they utilised other Swiss movements like Valjoux and ETA, because, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start re-doing Rolex watches!
However, in terms of the case and external features, Tudor was almost indistinguishable from their father brand. Take for example the notorious Tudor Submariner which was the main watch for the French Navy over a number of years. Kitted out in a Rolex Oyster case and the instantly recognizable bracelet, these specific Tudor models were therefore highly durable, just not as quick as Rolex pieces.
Wouldn’t it be miserable if Tudor sat under Rolex’s limelight for its entire horological life? Tudor sought to carve its own path in 2007 when they pulled out some older collections and re-introduced them to the horological fanbase. Take for example the Heritage Chrono Blue which follows on from the vintage Tudor Monte Carlo from 1971.
They made the decision to push forwards with their own innovation, releasing the must have dive watch of 2022, the Pelagos. This collection appeased a new breed of dive enthusiasts in 2012. There were still a few Rolex inspired features like a helium escape valve, which is seen on the Sea-Dweller but nothing that was an out and out copycat.
Still thinking they hide behind Rolex in terms of movements? As of 2015, like the timekeeping greyhounds that they are, they launched out of the traps with the brand new Calibre MT5621. Unveiled to die hard fans at Baselworld, Tudor tasted blood for their own movements and released the manufacturer “Kenissi” in conjunction with Breitling and Chanel to make movements.
Now, they are set with a strong portfolio of watches which are powered by their own in-house movements. So, the history is alive and very much kicking…or should that be ticking? What about the key models that are synonymous with Tudor today? Let’s take a look.
Most Popular Tudor Watches
Tudor watches are very desirable to those horological connoisseurs. In the interest of saving time and us flicking through the history books for every one off collection ever created, our horological genie grants you our top 3 collections.
The Tudor Black Bay
The Black Bay is easily Tudor’s most well regarded and instantly recognisable lineup.
Black Bay White Dial - Source - Brand’s Page
As a surprisingly young collection due to its debut in 2012, the Black Bay collection has been heralded as the value flagship of the brand. This is predominantly due to the vast amount of models which you can get your hands on.
Typically associated with a matte black dial with strong luminous indices, the watches tend to be powered by self-winding movements and enjoy a solid level of water resistance provided by a screw down crown.
Stemming over different variations like the Black Bay GMT or the Black Bay Bronze, there is a rich circle of different horological types. Not to worry, we are sure you’ll find one that has the value and takes your fancy!
The design changes per variation. Take for example the GMT versions featuring a duo bezel style like the Rolex GMT-Master collection. How about the Black Bay collection, the P01 which is based on a prototype from the 60s linked to the US Navy? This features a unique hinge end link which relates to the ease of dismantling the bezel to quickly fix the watch.
Due to its immense presence in their catalogue, this sporty watch has ended up as a watch for the stars, as worn on the wrists of watch nerds like John Mayer and A-list actor Brad Pitt who loves nothing more than a Black Bay Bronze.
Brad Pitt - Source - Rolex Magazine
Keep an eye out for the signature Snowflake hands. A staple of the brand’s legendary design, the domed crystal and solid water resistance of 200 metres for most models ensures these are most certainly models which could be good investments and excellent value.
You can buy a Tudor Black Bay GMT White Dial at retail for £3,330 at the time of writing.
The Tudor Pelagos
The diving world was never the same again (and we don’t think it has recovered since) thanks to the influence of the Tudor Pelagos.
Pelagos - Source - Brand’s Page
The Pelagos was originally overshadowed upon its release. Some smart alec at Tudor’s HQ decided to release both the Black Bay and the Pelagos at the same time in 2012! The bare-faced cheek of it. However, it would only be a matter of time before the Pelagos came back in a fireball of glory.
Released in titanium, The Pelagos was already seeking to alter the dive watch world. After all, titanium is both lighter and stronger than its steel counterpart. Originally sent out in a 42mm case with an astonishing 500 metres of water resistance, helium valve and black dial the 39mm was one of the hottest watches of 2022
Dosed to the max with Super-Luminova, the collection, while not as seized upon as the Black Bay release, it was accepted as what just may be the future of dive watches. Adopting a blue dial in 2015 and a brand spanking in-house movement in 2015, the LHD would soon follow in 2016 as a left handed model with cream indices.
You're asking by now, are these Tudor watches a good investment? It seems all of these editions are great investments, never mind fantastic value for the quality and craftsmanship. The Pelagos LHD was soon to follow in 2016 as a militarised adaptation for the French Navy, promptly named the FXD. The FXD was granted a slew of awards like ‘Best Divers Watch’ at GPHG, boasting the watches competence.
How can we forget the incredible Pelagos 39mm. As a smaller Pelagos but still crafted out of titanium, this is a fresh take on modern dive watches, just with a sniff more style, value and formality.
Worn by the likes of brand ambassador David Beckham and funny man Kevin Hart, The Pelagos certainly isn’t a piece we can easily forget. The waterproof case, highly legible dial and classic unidirectional bezel has made this a piece for the horological history books.
Outside of the celebrity clientele, the collection has also connected with other highly regarded brands as seen in the latest piece, The Pelagos FXD Chrono. Associated with the 2023 Alinghi Red Bull racing team, two watches, the Pelagos FXD Chrono and Pelagos FXD, have been released in red and blue dials and straps as an ode to Red Bull.
You can buy a Tudor Pelagos 39mm at retail for £3,850 at the time of writing.
The Tudor Royal collection is one of the very few out and out sport-chic pieces from the brand.
Royal - Source - Brand’s Page
Taking its name from the 1950s, the watches feature integrated bracelets and come in various materials, namely steel or gold and steel.
The bezel is famously notched and undergoes various finishes in the form of polishing and sunken grooves. The dials tend to be a very exciting prospect for the Royal collection. Typically given a fashionable sunray design, the collection deviates from the Black Bay’s matte black styling and goes for salmon, brown, chocolate and even champagne. Time for a drink we say!
The dials tend to incorporate Roman numerals like a Cartier Santos, just to showboat the vintage refinery of the collection. Of course, if you land on a model like the Royal 41mm steel diamond-set dial, you can have the indices replaced with tiny diamonds. This is no average sports watch…
The Royal collection has since been updated at Watches and Wonders 2023, featuring extreme brushing on the dials which are either chocolate brown or salmon. The subsequent aesthetic is one that can only be associated with one word…“Luxury”.
The Royal collection could easily be defined as a good investment due to its innovative dial colours and extensive use of precious metals which are eternally in demand.
The bracelet is a point of interest for horological nerds. As it’s integrated, it seamlessly fits in with the watch, but is made up of five links, three of which undergo satin-brushing and two that undergo polishing. As such, the sporty yet dressy aesthetic of the piece is not lost.
Worn by an eclectic list of high society watch lovers like Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou.
For us, the Royal is a solid option for the horological lovers and those looking for a good investment and garner good value.
You can buy a Tudor Royal 41mm Chocolate Brown Dial at retail for £3,070 at the time of writing.
Do Tudor Watches Hold Their Value?
In general , the watches do rather well when it comes to resale value. After all, it all depends on the sanctified rules of supply and demand, rarity and exclusivity to determine whether or not they hold their value.
Oyster Date 7032 - Source - Christie’s
For rarer or vintage watches, you can glean a very pretty figure back upon resale value. For standard models, they tend to lose around 0-30% from the original recommended retail value. While on first glance, it may look like the value depreciates at a hasty rate, we need to study the rest of the market’s value to see if it’s still a good investment.
If we compare this with the entire horological industry that loses around 50% to 60% like Breitling, Tudor does not actually perform too badly in terms of value. After all, not every luxury brand can be as profitable as Rolex or Audemars Piguet.
Their watches are a high quality due to their solid craftsmanship and coupled with an immense heritage that expands from Rolex we feel they are a good investment. Tudor makes around 200,000 watches a year, boasting the limited production and obvious demand which will inevitably follow.
If you are looking for some truly sublime editions that will garner great results upon resale value, keep your eyes open for vintage or rare models for an even greater value result, allowing them to be a good investment
For example, The Oyster Date 7032 is a model that dates back to 1971. Nicknamed the “Home Plate” due to its unusual dial face, there are only a few models in circulation. As one of the brand's first chronograph models, the watches are noted for their 40mm size and have bright orange hints. In 2022, it sold at Christie’s auction for around £50,000.
However, it’s not always vintage watches that are the ones to look out for. The rare pieces are also extremely coveted such as The Black Bay GMT One 7893/001U. This is a one off piece that was created for Only Watch 2021.
Capable of reading three time zones and given an aged aesthetic through barrel tumbling and black coatings, the watch is a Master Chronometer. It sold at Christie’s auction in 2021 for around £580,000, boasting its excellent value and reputation.
The stylings and layout of many Tudor watches have been retained throughout its inception. Take for example the Roman numeral indices of the Royal models, the Snowflake hands on the Black Bay editions and the same level of quality and value that has served this Swiss outfit well for over six decades.
Best Tudor Watches To Invest In
As we’ve already stated, the best watches to get your hands on are the rarer or vintage models.
Black Bay Ceramic One - Source - Christie’s
That’s if you want to enjoy a very good resale value of course! If you manage to get your hands on a model that has a history and value as sizable as DJ Khalid’s bank balance, that’s also a very handy feature.
They love their dive watches as per their first venture with them in 1954, The Oyster Prince Submariner. The collection expanded, eventually resulting in the Black Bay which took the world by storm. They created the Black Bay Ceramic One as an ode to such a great diving heritage. Crafted out of ceramic, titanium and steel, the 41mm watch is all black including black luminescence. It sold at a Christie’s auction in 2019 for around £315,000.
There are some vintage pieces which are of exceptional value and garner great value upon resale value. The Oyster-Prince Submariner ref. 7924 is one such model that performs well. Released in 1959, this exclusive “no crown-guard” model sold at Christie’s auction in 2016 for around £74,000.
Tudor’s elusive chronograph models are also of great value concerning resale value. Take for example the Automatic Chrono Time Oysterdate 79180. This model has a prototype dial as part of the craze in the 1990s which represented Tudor’s biggest coloured dial splurge. Featuring a white dial with three pink sub dials, the model sold at a Christie’s auction in 2019 for around £22,400.
Sometimes special occasions garner great value models. The Black Bay “Royal Specialist Protection” 79220. Limited to 75 pieces for The London Metropolitan Police’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Unit in 2018, they sold at a Sotheby auction for around £30,000.
What can we say...While standard Tudor watches may not bring you riches and notoriety like rarer or vintage models, rest assured that you are buying into a high quality brand that performs significantly better at resale than others.
And now the end is near.
But before we face the final curtain, we must ask…are Tudor watches a good investment? Tudor has been a top notch luxury brand on the rise, following Rolex’s innovative footsteps before forging their own path.
While keeping the Oyster case shape on the Black Bay models and maintaining timeless elements like the timeless Snowflake hands, Tudor have cut themselves a nice slice of horological pie in and amongst other brands with relevant value points from TAG Heuer to Breitling
The brand has kept their pieces looking sharp with some collections evolving over time. The Pelagos has trimmed its timekeeping fat from 41mm to 39mm while the in-house calibre’s keep on improving. You might well say they run like clockwork.
Their emphasis placed on build quality and their ever expanding celebrity clientele means Tudor are slowly becoming one of the top dogs of the horological world. We did say slowly though. The vintage Tudor watches are nothing to sniff at as some like The Submariner and The Big Block chronograph are just a couple of models that perform exceptionally well.
Over time, Tudor has cemented themselves as a fantastic brand through clever ambassador work with former Manchester United number 7 David Beckham and Lady Gaga, not to mention relieving themselves of the “Rolex” burden.
No longer are they deemed a cheap redo of a Rolex. They’ve progressed with a host of wrist worthy collections like the Black Bay and The Pelagos. One thing is for sure…this is a fantastic luxury brand that is certainly going places.
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