Starting in 2009, Tudor, whose name was registered in 1926, but whose real birth took place in 1946, has been strongly repositioned. (For more on the history of Tudor, created by Hans Wilsdorf, see the article in Europa Star, no. 5/10, or visit www.europastar.com.) This repositioning comes after several years during which the essence and the identity of the brand had become somewhat diluted. It is being done not only with a lot of fanfare but also with a certain brilliance, carried out by a young team wanting to demonstrate that the brand can—by drawing on its own history—resume its original and important place in the watchmaking landscape.
Reviving its founding identity, composed of a subtle mix of technique, robustness, and class, Tudor has fully returned to the vast chessboard of watch brands. It has a clearly identifiable offer, striking models, and an entirely revisited communication—one that seeks to transmit the brand’s particular mix of performance and elegance that form the basis of Tudor’s profound identity.
Having thus been “liberated” from the powerful identifiable tutelage of Rolex—the brand’s models are no more the attenuated reflection of Rolex, as they were during other periods of its history—Tudor has considerably revitalised its public. Its clientele can now discover the company for what it has become—an extremely dynamic brand that addresses a young, urban, cosmopolitan public. And, this public is as attentive to sportiness as it is to design. It appreciates the qualities of fine timekeeping such as reliability, robustness, and precision as long as the brand expresses them in a stylistic and elegant manner. Finally, it is a public for whom a watch is also a vector of emotion.
The Tudor Heritage Advisor
To perfectly illustrate the brand’s direction, or we should say “strategy,” is the new Tudor Heritage Advisor, launched this spring at Baselworld 2011. The original model of the Advisor dates back to 1957. At that time, it was a watch measuring 34mm in diameter—normal for the epoch—whose automatic movement was equipped with an additional alarm function module. The alarm was adjusted using a crown at 2 o’clock, with the hour denoted by a hand in the shape of a red arrow.
The new 2011 Tudor Heritage Advisor has been directly inspired by its precursor, while revisiting it from head to toe, so to speak. Although the “vintage spirit” that emanates is patently obvious, the piece has, however, considerably evolved technically as well as aesthetically. Still driven by an automatic movement, with an additional alarm function specifically developed for Tudor, the 2011 model is larger, with a diameter of 42mm. Yet, it has the same shape and proportions of the middle case as the original timepiece including the sleekness of the bezel and the prominence of the lugs, but it now has renewed vigour and tension. Its dial, however, is more technical, and displays the supplementary indications of the alarm power reserve on a disc at 3 o’clock, the date shown by a hand at 6 o’clock, as well as an on/off indicator for activating the alarm at 9 o’clock. The alarm is activated using a push-piece at 8 o’clock, on the side of the case. The case itself is in titanium and steel, and features contrasting polished and satin finishes. It comes mounted on either a steel bracelet or an alligator leather strap, with folding clasp and safety catch. But the Heritage Advisor has more than one trick up its sleeve—it comes with a second bracelet, made in fabric, with a tongued buckle.
There can be no doubt that these famous fabric bracelets, developed approximately two years ago by Tudor, have seriously contributed to the success of the brand and the renewed interest it is enjoying today. Developed in collaboration with an arts manufacturer specialising in artisanal ribbon (see sidebar), these fabric bracelets are so fine and so light, yet so solid and so resistant. They also offer a “vintage” aspect that is highly appreciated in addition to the obvious functional advantages. These fabric straps have become a strong identifying sign of the brand and the new Tudor spirit.
TUDOR HERITAGE ADVISOR
Tudor Fastrider, the sporty genes of the brand
While the Advisor can be comfortably worn with a bracelet made of natural silk, the new Tudor Fastrider chronograph prefers a strap made of polypropylene. With the Fastrider line, we enter into another universe of the brand, that of speed and motorcycle sports. This chronograph is equipped with an automatic TUDOR 7753 calibre that features 46 hours of power reserve. The 42-mm stainless steel case evokes the world of racing with its “free flowing and bevelled structure,” as the brand’s management says. Its mechanical sportiness is reinforced by the black PVD cylinders, reminiscent of engine pistons, which house the watch’s push-pieces, as well as the shield, also made of black PVD, which encircles the date corrector at 9 o’clock on the middle case. The satin-finished bezel is engraved with a tachymetric scale. On the outside of the dial is a raised ring showing the minute markers.
The timing functions and the small seconds are displayed on the dial by three black counters with red hands. The dial is traversed by vertical red stripes, which continue onto the fabric strap, thus emphasising even more its adherence to the world of speed. It is available in a choice of bevelled indices or with doubly applied Arabic numerals. The dial also comes in three colours—black, white, or silvered—and the watch can be mounted alternatively on a three-piece link steel bracelet or on a leather strap with folding clasp and the new safety catch or, of course, on a fabric strap.
TUDOR FASTRIDER, TUDOR FASTRIDER DUCATI
Partnership with Ducati
What could be more natural and logical than for Tudor, with its new and very sporty Fastrider, to enter into a partnership with one of the most prestigious motorcycle brands: the Italian Ducati. In addition to a comparable spirit, the two brands share a number of coincidences. To begin with, they were both created in 1926. Secondly, 20 years passed before both of them introduced the first product that would earn them their reputation: Ducati did not make its first motor, the famous “Cucciolo” until 1946, just as Tudor did not present its defining model, the famous Tudor Oyster, until 1946.
Over the years, the echoes between the two brands have continued. For example, when Tudor launched its Oysterdate Chronograph, now becoming the Heritage Chrono, Ducati presented its Monster motorcycle. And, another coincidence happened in 2007—when Tudor initiated its turning-point strategy to gain new visibility, Ducati won its first Moto GP World Championship with the best rider and as the best constructor.
If these “coincidences” exist, it is because they are the expressions of a belief and a philosophy about the product that are shared by the two brands. For Tudor and Ducati, concepts such as solidity, reliability, and resistance are at the centre of their preoccupations. For them, the requirements concerning the product’s technical nature can only be expressed with a flair for style in the ergonomics and the originality of a design that is immediately recognisable, a design that combines sportiness with refinement and performance with elegance.
Quite “naturally” then, the partnership between Tudor and Ducati was recently signed, and officially announced on June 30, 2011 at the Ducati Museum in Borgo Panigale near Bologna. From this day forward, Tudor is the “Timing Partner” of the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. But beyond this successful collaboration, the two brands state that they “feel united by a strong convergence of objectives” and that they intend to develop the greatest possible synergies and collaborations.
To celebrate the opening of this new chapter, Tudor is currently launching a special Fastrider model with the red and black colours of the Italian brand on the dial, which continue onto the fabric strap. (Moreover, this commemorative—but not limited—model possesses the same technical characteristics as the other Fastrider chronographs.)
A feminine rose
Determined, as they affirm themselves, to “move into all sectors,” the managers of Tudor are creating new models destined for a feminine clientele. As they explain, “the soul of the brand is essentially masculine [even though in some markets, notably Asia, this statement has lost a bit of it its validity], but we have decided to open up to women, thanks notably to our work on design—one of Tudor’s strong points.”
Thus, the new ladies’ proposition from Tudor is the brand’s Clair de Rose, a timepiece that is fundamentally and intrinsically feminine in nature. The Clair de Rose has nothing to do with a scaled-down version of a man’s watch. It is completely original, with notably a captivating small seconds hand in the form of a cut-out rose. This hand—if we can still call it that—animates the heart of the timepiece, concealing and then revealing the cut-out hour and minute hands that it overlooks, in a way relegating the reading of time to the back burner. “With this watch, we want to move into different territories,” says the brand, “and to particularly evoke a feminine relationship with time that goes beyond the mere counting down of time, beyond the strict measure of time.”
This cut-out rose rotates above a very refined and sophisticated dial made of mother-of-pearl. (Let’s recall in passing that the rose is the emblem of the Tudor Royal Family and that, starting in 1936, it has appeared in the brand’s logo, placed inside a shield.) Composed of two different mother-of-pearl plates (in Sky, White, Jade, or Tahiti Pearl versions), one of which is hollowed out thus giving the impression of depth, the dial reproduces the stylised scroll motifs inspired by clouds.
The Clair de Rose model also exists in a gem-set version, evoking a full moon against a starry sky. The same scroll motifs on a satin background are found on the fabric strap. A definite softness and roundness are found in the cushion-shaped case, made in steel or in steel and pink gold, measuring 26mm, 30mm, or 34 mm in diameter, with a domed sapphire crystal. The winding crown, topped by a transparent dome in which a Tudor rose “floats”, is enveloped by two looped decorations on either side. In addition to the satin strap already mentioned, the Clair de Rose comes mounted either on a “grain of rice” bracelet inspired by the 1950s or on a fabric strap.
CLAIR DE ROSE
Much left to be done
As of today, Tudor is distributed in approximately 70 markets. Again, according to the brand’s management, the response from the marketplace as well as from consumers and the media concerning Tudor’s new direction over the last few years has been more than positive. It has, in fact, been excellent. (As an aside, all the brand’s services, including production, have been moved to a new facility that has been completely decorated in the specific colours and the spirit of the brand.)
Some major investments have been made but much is still left to be done. Very strong in the Asian markets, Tudor is not yet present in the United States, in Japan, or even in the United Kingdom, the country of the Tudor family.
“A concentrate of human efforts”
To make its famous fabric bracelets, Tudor works with a historic manufacturer, one of the last artisanal “ribbon makers” in existence. (For confidentiality reasons, we are not able to give the name of this company.)
It is surprising to realise just how close watchmaking, in its most artisanal production aspects, and an art such as the fabrication of ribbons actually are. In ribbon making, the savoir-faire and the hand of man continue to play an essential role, even if they adopt ultra-modern technologies. Thus, if the ribbons of today might be designed on a computer and if their fabrication might call upon the latest materials, their artisanal production is still based on weaving methods that are as antique as they are sophisticated.
The suppleness and “intelligence” of the human hand remain fundamental, notably in the preparation, the smoothing, and the tension of the threads that will make up the ribbon. Here also, as in watchmaking, meticulousness, precision, and training play a capital role. The “time necessary” to complete these operations cannot be reduced, unless it is to the detriment of the quality. As the director of the enterprise muses, “a ribbon is a concentrate of technique, design, harmony, and taste… a concentrate of human efforts.” Might we not say the same thing about watchmaking?
Source: Europa Star October - November 2011 Magazine Issue