Tudor: the story of the little sister of Rolex


While the Tudor brand is back in force this year with the release of his splendid model Tudor Heritage Chrono, let's go back to the history of this brand 'in the pink' launched in the 1950s by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex.

For several years, I have studied the possibility of making a watch that our dealers can sell at a price lower than our Rolex watches and which is worthy of the same traditional confidence. I therefore decided to found a society apart, to manufacture and sell this new watch. This company is named Montres Tudor SA.

We are on 6 March 1946 and the author of these remarks is another that Hans Wilsdorf, is leading in the world of Swiss watchmaking high-end for creating in the first decade of the 20th century. In this statement, he officially Unveils not only Tudor, but also the positioning and communication strategy that he has in mind for the brand.

The intuition of Hans Wilsdorf is also great that simple: at this time, the wristwatch market is expanding. It is still well away from the logic of optimisation of resources implemented today by so many large financial groups and brands. And the public is willing to recognize and appreciate a product including all technical, aesthetic and functional characteristics, as well as distribution, would be guaranteed not by a newcomer on the market, but by a mark like Rolex, already renowned worldwide for the quality of its production.

The statement by Hans Wilsdorf has nothing of rhetoric. It is indeed a commitment, not to say a program: between 1947 and 1952, Tudor launches first model Tudor Oyster, then the line Tudor Oyster Prince, who embody this alliance between precision and reliability, style, technique and quality of production.

The first advertisements fully devoted to Tudor, appearing at that time, Hans Wilsdorf is also part of his pride and satisfaction to be personally associated with the birth of this new brand.

It should be noted that originally the Tudor brand is symbolized by a decorative rose, the emblem of the dynasty that ruled long on England. Tudor also inspired Hans Wilsdorf its new company name without that, so far, this sponsorship never encouraged him to rest on his laurels...

The mark was under the most favourable auspices. Features of outset of technical assets as the housing waterproof Oyster and an automatic movement, Tudor will not reduce these strengths to their purely functional aspect, but will stylistic elements of watches designed for modern and active man both by their qualities and their aesthetics. Accompanied in its infancy and many introduced by Rolex, the mark rose quickly made her place up to totally escape the trademark to the Crown (even if in the minds of consumers, both brands remain closely linked).

There is indeed evidence of Tudor and his creations as early as 1926, year in which the mark is registered by the factory of Swiss watchmaking Widow of Philippe Huther on behalf of Hans Wilsdorf, which redeems it personally in 1936 to start then, in 1946, the company Montres Tudor SA. It is however with products and advertising campaigns of the 1950s that the mark acquires definitely strength and personality.

In 1952 is launched the Tudor Oyster Prince, accompanied by a campaign of communication particularly striking and original for its time. These images associated with the credibility now acquired the product, contribute to give Tudor watches a style and a personality associated with the notions of modernity and reliability, beyond the context in which they are presented.

Indeed, far from being limited, as it was then customary, to represent and describe the product, this campaign highlights the qualities of strength, reliability and precision, not only by a very detailed text, but by illustrations of men, a watch Tudor on the wrist at work in extreme conditions - arduous toil of construction of roads or operating of mining - and not just engaging in sports while effective to a watch in value, but much more conventional.

Furthermore, the participation of 30 Tudor Oyster Prince watches in the British scientific expedition to Greenland organized in 1952 by the Royal Navy in this regard is significant. In the 1960s, the momentum of technical success and image obtained through these Arctic expeditions, the brand joins a project development of a watch that could be adopted professional diving officially by the armies: a Tudor Prince Submariner is produced for the United States Navy between 1964 and 1966, followed in the early 1970s (and until 1984) by the French Navy modelofficially adopted by the French Navy (sought-after model).

It was then that opens to Tudor watches style and more technical design era, inspired by considered trades as dangerous and featuring, for these reasons, special functions - models of diving, with calendar or chronograph - and a style that expresses the strength, security and, once again, reliability.

Of the same way, the advertising campaign of the Tudor Prince Submariner or of the Tudor Prince Date-Day of the unknown this time designated by their name and surname, photographed with their professional Rescue Diver (for example), mining or rally driver engineer equipment. This type of situation development aims to foster the identification of the audience with characters whose emanates a sense of mastery in professional.

The Tudor Oysterdate Chronograph, a model distinguished particularly by its style and its technical characteristics emerged in 1970. The spirit of this watch culminates in the collaboration that Tudor has prepared today with Porsche Motorsport as a "Timing Partner". This role is perfectly illustrated by the range Grantour, exposed for the first time at Baselworld in 2009.

Tudor thus sign a change compared with the early 1980s, during which the communication relied on unexpected details of armor of Knights to insist on the concept of resistance and clarify the logo change, the rose shield. This repositioning of the brand, which insists once again on the union between style and performance, continues with the novelties of 2010.

The logo usually associated with name brand on the dials of watches has always had great importance for obvious reasons of image. Tudor is no exception to this rule, and even devoted particular attention to this graphic identity, using his evolve over time based on specific needs of communication.

All first watches from the 1920s and 1930s simply bore the name Tudor, as on a birth certificate. There are however a few rare copies where brand name is associated with that of Rolex, which is explained by the fact that it was Rolex, initially, which ensured the technical and aesthetic quality of Tudor, until the mark accede to self-government on this plan.

It is circa 1936 that appears for the first time a graphic element, the fine rose Tudor in a shield as to symbolize the invincible union of strength and grace. In 1947, just one after the official launch of Tudor, the dial has more, with the brand name, that the rose.

Finally, from 1969 to today, definitively acquired once a classic aesthetic principles and then producing the brand still evolving more towards the technical pole, the pink disappears from the shield, leaving the latter enthroned on the Dial as a symbol of strength and reliability. In this same year, Tudor completes the total reorientation of the brand with new series of watches and the advertising campaign "Designed for Performance. '' "Engineered for Elegance.