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In Depth

A Celebration of Tudor

By Sarah Jayne Potter | 4 minute read

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Tudor is renowned within the world of horology for its proud heritage, combined with a desire to innovate and push the boundaries of the new and contemporary. Whilst the brand embraces the iconic designs of its past, it is celebrated for staying one step ahead with its pioneering spirit and state-of-the-art technology that not only keeps it relevant, but also at the forefront of style and innovation. One such example is that of the fabric strap. Whilst gaining popularity amongst collectors of sporting watches, Tudor realised its potential and recognised an opportunity for innovation and had their own leading version of the fabric strap manufactured by family-owned company Julien Faure.

The fabric strap was first used back in the 1970’s when NATO watch straps were manufactured from nylon thread. Tudor re-evaluated the design taking inspiration from seat belt systems of vintage sports cars in its pursuit for perfection. This was achieved after the brand approached one of the last remaining, and well established, passementerie companies that still practised the “Jacquard” weave technique on antique shuttle looms. Skilled artisans practise this intricate technique where threads are woven independently of one another. This allows for complexity and experimentation of design as well as strength and suppleness due to its high thread count and is consequently popular with haute couture brands including Tudor.

To this day, Tudor’s interpretation remains incomparable. Now celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their partnership with Julien Faure, Tudor equips many of its watches with meticulously crafted, fabric straps that grant each model with an additional facet of style and sophistication including those that celebrate the brand’s distinguished naval heritage.

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Tudor’s Naval Heritage

Across the last six decades Tudor has supplied divers’ watches to some of the largest navies in the world. Tudor’s first divers watch appeared in 1954 – combining strength and expert technical craftsmanship at an accessible price. It became the perfect choice for any organisation that participated in large-scale subaquatic endeavours, the French navy being one of them. After being contacted by the Groupement d’Étude et de Recherche Sous-marine \(Underwater Study and Research Group\) to assess the suitability of Tudor’s models to equip French navy combat swimmers, Tudor watches were subsequently found on the wrists of divers from the largest navies worldwide for over 50 years.

Today, the Tudor collection celebrates this remarkable heritage with a variety of aesthetic references that take inspiration from divers’ watches famously used by military divers and symbolic of life on the ocean waves.

Tudor Black Bay P01

The 1960’s saw a period of innovation and creativity across multiple industries, including that of watchmaking. Tudor’s most significant example was the “Commando” – a production of prototypes inspired by the divers of the American navy that captured the spirit of that era. The new watch needed to meet a new set of criteria specified by the US Government and was to also incorporate the brand engineer’s latest functionality and ergonomics research.

The Black Bay P01 – meaning Prototype 1 – is inspired by one of the prototypes created during the development phase and now preserved in the Tudor archives. Now, fifty years on, the story lives on in this piece which mirrors the functional appearance that took priority over any aesthetic or style considerations at that time.

Perhaps the most significant feature of The Black Bay P01 is the complex locking bezel mechanism which was a functional development created to mitigate the potential of the bezel getting accidently knocked – crucial to the safety of divers. With prominent lug covers, a winding crown at 4 o’clock and manufactured with contemporary character, the Black Bay P01 tells the lesser known story of the “Commando” project.

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Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’

Tudor’s blue divers’ watches are without doubt, intimately linked to the French navy who had opted for this colour back in the 1970’s. Chosen for their superior quality and robustness, the watches were neither custom-designed nor specially developed, the only pre-requisite being an engraving on the back of the case. For example, the French Marine Nationale had the inscription M.N together with the last two digits of the date of issue engraved on the back. These watches were labelled “Tudor MN” and were used for many years in extremely harsh conditions. It is rare to find one nowadays in pristine condition, but it is this rarity and the history of the life of the watch that makes it particularly prevalent amongst collectors.

Following the huge success of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which most closely replicated the divers’ watches adopted by the French and US navies, Tudor has launched the Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” edition which pays homage to the distinct historic connection it shares with the French Navy. Featuring a striking matt navy-blue dial and bezel and 39-millimetre diameter case, characteristic of the proportions of the 1950’s, it arguably breaks conventions and has an enviable unisex appeal. Designed with a three different strap options, meticulously hand-crafted by skilled French artisans using 19th Century jacquard looms, it is reminiscent of the infamous “Tudor MN” and celebrates a unique part of Tudor’s identity. The ‘soft touch’ strap is made from a synthetic, tactile material resembling flannel and the other options for this model include a blue Jacquard fabric with silver band, and a riveted steel choice.

Buy Tudor Online

We are happy to offer our clients the option to purchase some of Tudor’s exceptional luxury timepieces online and have them delivered straight to your doorstep. This fantastic service is available across all of our websites. So whether you are in the UK, or the US, you can browse, buy and treasure your new Tudor timepiece all within a few clicks.

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