Tudor’s got a lot going for it: a rich military and diving heritage, a solid line-up of watches (including this year’s GMT and Fifty-Eight) and a roster of well-known and inspirational ambassadors.
Since relaunching the brand back in 2012, Tudor has continued to demonstrate that they’ve got a knack for balancing style and practicality. Showing that it isn’t a zero-sum game, a watch can be both elegant and rugged.
Another thing we love about Tudor is their tendency to think outside the box. It is in that vein that they have flipped our preconception of the brand on its head and released the 1926. A range of elegant dress watches for both men and women that easily double as casual weekender watches.
With the release of the 1926, Tudor almost fights back against the loose allowances of modern fashion. These days you can be rugged but also formal, which usually works well for Tudor as they sit on the fence between the two. But not with the 1926, a watch that looks like it requires the pairing of a sharp suit. That being said, it’s functionality whispers in your ear “hey, it’s ok if we want to get a little dirty.”
Origins of the 1926
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf registered the name Tudor in 1926. It makes sense that you would refer to the year of your inception when creating a vintage-inspired line that draws influence from prominent past models. Well played by Tudor, a classy move for one of their classiest watches.
Available in a range of colours including black, opaline or silver faces with a polished or machine-stamped waffle pattern on the face, Tudor has nailed the essence of new-vintage. The dial elements give the watch a crisp and clear look, regardless of the size you opt for (there are four options; 28mm, 36mm, 39mm, and 41mm). The steel or two-tone steel and rose gold cases give the impression that this is very much a formal watch (also evident by the lack of crown guards).
With a nicely placed date window at 3 o’clock, every design element of the 1926 says class. The purpose-made bracelet consists of seven links varying in size in a play-off between satin-brushed and polished finishing. It sits comfortably on the wrist and is slim enough to easily slide under the cuff.
Along with the many colour options mentioned above, the 1926 offers an alternative to feature diamonds if you really wish to cement a formal look. With the diamonds replacing the odd-numbered hour markers.
It has 100m water resistance, a seven-link jubilee-type bracelet, an expertly engineered winding crown (with Tudor shield and logo), sapphire crystal and enough shock resistance to assume Tudor applied more than a dash of the Black Bays durability. So basically, it has the durability one would expect from Tudor watches without the emphasis – it’s quietly durable. The focus rather, is in the design, with its vintage-inspired elements and smart dress sensibilities. Its durability can be thought of as a bonus…something other dressier watches typically lack.
The Waffle Dial
Possibly one of the more intriguing aspects of the 1926, and certainly a primary reason for its vintage feel, is the waffle dial. The textured dial – with its checkerboard-like styling delightfully entertains the eye – it’s a throwback to similarly textured 1950’s Rolex watches often referred to as having “honeycomb dials”. It’s a standout element that sets the 1926 apart from not only form its Black Bay relatives but vintage-inspired dress watches in general.
The Price Point
Tudor has once again assigned Swiss ébauche manufacturer ETA for their third-party movements in the 1926. But isn’t this a move away from Tudor’s recent efforts in putting out in-house calibres? Well not exactly. This is a case of apples and oranges.
Rather it’s a very competitively priced rock-solid dressy watch from Tudor. Running at 28,800 bph and featuring automatic, bi-directional winding, hacking and 38 hours in the tank: it’s a great piece of kit wrapped up in a beautiful, accessibly priced package. You would need to be an in-house mechanisms enthusiast to let this bother you with the 1926, however. The calibre still runs at 28,800bph with a 38-hour power reserve, with automatic, bi-directional winding movements and a hacking function. So, make no mistake, this range boasts the Tudor quality you’d expect, just at a more affordable price (Tudor has always been an exceptional bang-for-your-buck brand).
In line with the release of the 1926, Tudor announced their newest brand ambassador to the; the ‘King of Asian Pop,’ Jay Chou. A well-established musician, actor and director, Chou was chosen as an ambassador as Tudor felt his life achievements are a direct result of a fearless approach to life. This lines up with Tudor’s #BornToDare philosophy which aims to draw inspiration from heritage while incorporating state-of-the-art technology, exclusive innovations, and pioneering creativity. A bold fusion and daring approach which is a credo the company likes to share with ambassadors such as Chou.
We’ve mentioned the accessibility of the 1926 a few times throughout this article, but it’s a significant point. With 36 variations in the collection, I can see the 1926 looking like a very solid value proposition for a lot of people. For example, a 28mm two-tone, silver dial is the perfect accompaniment for a formal occasion (with the diamond index addition if you really want to drive it home), or you could swing to the 39mm, all steel, black dial for a solid all-rounder.
The 1926 is Tudor quietly extending their reach. It’s a reminder that Tudor isn’t all Black Bay, and that they’ve successfully applied what works on other more explicitly rugged watches and dressed it up to form a new (yet quite different) collection. It’s an interesting prospect that melds the worlds of affordability and class with durability and elegance. A somewhat bold move you could say, but then again, that is the Tudor philosophy.
Patek Philippe Calibre 89: crowning 150 years
Subscribe to The Hour Glass
And stay up to date with the watchmaking world