Despite the fact that in-person watch trade shows have been very few and far between in 2020 – LVMH’s Dubai watch exhibition came early in the year, and the Geneva Watch Days and Watches & Wonders Shanghai took place much more recently – the output of new watches from major brands has continued unabated.
Tudor, of course, had one very high profile release in the Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue,” and then a much quieter one in the form of a new collection that revives an older name Tudor used in the ’50s: Royal. It released its affordable new Royal line, which is headlined by a great-looking model with day and date, back in July. Back then, it was available only in select Asian markets. Now it’s launching globally.
So what is the Tudor Royal ? Basically, it’s Tudor’s new steel (or steel and gold) sport-luxury watch with integrated five-link bracelet. It’s rolling out in four different sizes: the aforementioned 41mm Day-Date, as well as 38mm, 34mm, and 28mm time-and-date versions. In all cases, the Royal line uses self-winding movements from ETA or Sellita. In the case of the day and date version, it’s the T603 (Sellita base). In the 38mm and 34mm, it’s the T601 (also Sellita base). And in the case of the 28mm, it’s the T201 (ETA base).
But wait, you might be saying to yourself. Hasn’t Tudor been on an upward march over the last several years that has seen the company roll out a number of its own movements? That’s absolutely true. But chill. We haven’t yet talked about price. The 41mm day and date starts at $2,325 in steel and tops out at $3,350, for which you get a yellow-gold bezel, yellow-gold crown, and polished yellow-gold intermediate bracelet links. Across the board, we’re dealing with one case and bracelet design (in two-tone or steel) and a total of nine different dial variations. The day and date version is the most interesting offering of the new Royal line.
The elements of the Tudor Royal design that stick out most are its crenelated bezel (with alternating fluted and polished finish) and its integrated bracelet. Both are original designs, and they seem to gesture toward Rolex’s famous fluted bezel and the integrated bracelets seen on Rolex Oysterquartz models. This lends a distinct ’70s vibe to the watch that makes sense given its steel base material and the use of an integrated bracelet. The case and bracelet look like real quality; the latter has a folding clasp with safety catch.
The lugs on the 100-meter water resistant case are fully drilled through, which I think connects the look of the Royal back to vintage watches. In pictures, the most appealing watch of the bunch is the blue-dialed, all-stainless-steel take on the “Day-Date” model. But the two-tone day and date looks great too. The dial’s applied Roman numerals call to mind a design styling associated with Rolex.
The 41mm sizing for a Tudor Royal with day and date will be familiar, as it’s the larger of the Day-Date models currently available for the Crown. If you go a size down, to 38mm, you’ll find a similar-looking and feeling watch, sans display for the day. I’m already wondering how this collection might evolve with time. A 38mm option with day and date is something I, and I imagine quite a few others, would absolutely love to see. Below is the 38mm black-dialed date version of the Tudor Royal with Roman numerals next to the same size, only with champagne dial and diamond hour markers.
The wide range of available dials in the collection give it quite a varied character. There are black, silver, champagne, or blue options with a sunray finish, with or without diamonds. The 34 and 28mm Royals are available with gem-set mother-of-pearl dials. In all cases, the Royal has a sapphire crystal over the dial and closed back, as you’d expect.
The fact that all of the new Tudor Royal models come with supplied movements keeps costs down, and that, frankly, makes these watches an extremely attractive value proposition. Still, all of them have a power reserve of just 38 hours. This will mean that taking the watch off Friday evening after work and coming back to it Monday morning will require a reset. This is something that might bother some customers, considering that many of us have grown accustomed to the excellent 70-hour power reserve in some of Tudor’s in-house movements. But again, cost is a factor not to be overlooked here, and the 41mm steel version is probably my favorite new watch under $3,000. The case and bracelet look fantastic. And while I haven’t tried any of these on, I wouldn’t expect anything less than pure Tudor quality and comfort.
While there is a ’70s sport-luxury vibe to the Tudor Royal collection, it stops well short of being what most of us mean when we say sport watch. It’s a pretty dressy timepiece, in fact. And to that point, I think it’s the most appealing new Tudor I’ve seen in a while that isn’t a dive watch or GMT.