Montres TUDOR SA is a Swiss manufacturer of luxury wristwatches based in Geneva. Registered in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex SA, the brand remains a sister company to Rolex, both companies being owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. Over time Tudor became especially well known for its tool watches, producing watches for professional divers and the military. Between the 1960s and 1980s several navies issued Tudor Submariners to their divers, including the US Navy SEALs, and the French Marine Nationale (French Navy).
The first Tudor watches produced in the 1920s and 1930s bore a Tudor signature on the dial, with the horizontal bar of the T lengthened above the other letters. On some rare pieces, the name Rolex also appears. Around 1936, the logo changed to the name in Gothic characters accompanied by a shield bearing the Tudor rose, emblem of the English Tudor dynasty. In 1947, one year after the official launch of Tudor Montres SA, the shield was removed and the rose appeared alone with the brand name. From 1969 only the shield was used. The shield logo remains on all Tudor watches while the rose is now used on the winding crowns.
Tudor watches are marketed and sold in most countries around the world including the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, South Africa, some countries in Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and countries in South America, particularly Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. Montres Tudor SA discontinued sales of Tudor-branded watches in the United States in the early 2000s, but Tudor resumed sales US in 2013 and in UK in 2014.
The Tudor trademark was registered in 1926 by Swiss watchmaking company “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” on behalf of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex watches. In 1936, Wilsdorf took it over himself, and went on to found the company Montres Tudor SA in 1946. The aim of the Tudor brand was to offer a more affordable watch that would preserve the Rolex reputation for quality. Tudor watches were originally equipped with off-the-shelf movements while using Rolex quality cases and bracelets, allowing it to provide the reliability and dependability of a Rolex but at a lower price. With the launch of the Tudor Oyster collection in the mid-forties, the waterproof Oyster case previously exclusive to Rolex was added to Tudor watches. In 1952 Tudor released their first self-winding model, the Prince. It used a Rolex self winding mechanism. 26 Tudor Oyster Princes were included in the 1952 British scientific expedition to Greenland.
The adoption of the Oyster case and self-winding rotor facilitated Tudor's move into the production of tool watches. The French Navy (Marine Nationale) was involved in field research for a Tudor diving watch. From the 1960s to the mid 80s, watches were supplied to the French Navy in bulk without bracelets so that all were worn with military-issued straps or those adapted by the wearers themselves. Tudor launched its first diving watch in 1954, the Oyster Prince Submariner, waterproof to 100 metres. This was increased to 200 metres in 1958. Over the years the Submariner line adopted various features such as the "big crown" and "snowflake hands" that have been reintroduced on Tudor's diving watches of today. In 1964, Tudor also began producing an Oyster Prince Submariner specifically for the US Navy. Meanwhile, 1957 saw the launch of the Tudor Advisor, which incorporated an alarm complication. The first models used and adapted the Oyster case to amplify sound. Later in 1969 this was changed to a more ‘traditional’ alarm case with an external case back to increase the volume of the alarm.
In 1970, Tudor released its first Chronograph, the Oysterdate, with a manually-wound Valjoux mechanical calibre 7734 and a cam mechanism chronograph function. The second series, introduced in 1971, was nicknamed the "Montecarlo" because the dial resembles a roulette wheel. The third series, the Oysterdate "Big Block", were the first Tudor chronographs to introduce a self-winding movement in 1976. The Tudor Monarch collection was launched in 1991, and the Tudor Hydronaut in 1999.