No one likes it when they get compared to their siblings, but it seems like Tudor, birthed in 1926 from Rolex’s Hans Wilsdorf, has always been seen as inferior against its older brother.
A brief history of how both brands came to be - Hans Wilsdorf, original creator of the Rolex legacy, launched Tudor in 1946 in the Swiss watch market as an affordable alternative to his more premium brand of the business, while still promising the same level of precision and reliability of a Rolex. While Tudor used to be relegated as a second option to Rolex and was basically viewed as a Rolex watch for less money, it has defined itself outside of Rolex’s shadow and established a bolder identity as a go-to for sports watches. Today, Rolex and Tudor share the same high standards of workmanship and integrity backed by a longstanding name.
With that said, there are still key differences when it comes to picking a Rolex or a Tudor. At a glance, Rolex is the epitome of class while Tudor shouts character - but when it comes to choosing a timepiece between the two, multiple factors come into play.
One of the more obvious differences between the two brands is the huge gap in price point. Tudor timepieces are often perceived as an affordable intermediary watch for those who are ‘working up’ to a more premium Rolex model. Luxury watches belong to a special category of Veblen goods, which essentially means that the higher price, the more demand and the more desirable a product is perceived. In this case, wearing a more expensive Rolex as compared to a more affordable Tudor is an implicit signal of your net worth. Nevertheless, outside perception should never be the reason why you choose one watch over another.
Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark
Building on the point above, the biggest reason for the difference in price is Tudor’s use of third-party movements as compared to Rolex’s use of in-house movements. Tudor sources its calibers from Swiss ETA manufacturers, which attributes to its more comfortable price point due to lower built-in cost. Rolex, on the other hand, produces its movement (and in fact almost every aspect of each timepiece) in-house. A completely unique mechanical movement that other watches can only deign to have, it is truly the timepiece to have for watch aficionados. Nevertheless, Tudor has in recent years stepped up its game as well, introducing the ‘Caliber MT5621’ in 2015 with their very own in-house movement - with more Tudor timepieces following suit.
In terms of materials used for Rolex and Tudor, it is no question that Rolex has the upper hand. Since 2005, Rolex has been manufacturing and using its own gold, platinum and stainless steel alloys. Rolex is known for using only the finest materials, and for even manufacturing their own metals. For its 18k gold in particular, they are mixed in-house to ensure that integrity is assured. This is a far cry from Tudor which mostly uses stainless steel alloys, which brings us back to the difference in price points. With that being said, however, the overall quality, structure and technical capability Tudor possesses is still on par (and dare I say identical?) with its more stoic counterpart.
We are moving towards a more qualitative aspect of comparison between the two but when it comes to the vibe that each brand gives off, they seem to be going in different directions. With Tudor’s ‘Born to Dare’ tagline, they are well on their way to establish themselves as a more versatile, sporty and experimental brand, catered towards young working professionals who are looking for a statement piece with personality. Rolex, on the other hand, is perceived as a more classic, timeless and historical brand catered towards mature working professionals who are looking for an investment piece.
Rolex GMT-Master II
Source: Own photo
Overall, when it comes to picking your poison between Rolex and Tudor, there is no right answer to which is better - it is very much dependent on what you prefer and can afford after careful research. Regardless of whether you end up going for a Rolex or a Tudor timepiece, one thing is for sure - you are buying into a legacy of watchmaking of the highest standard.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are solely the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the view of Kee Hing Hung Pte Ltd.