Established in London in 1905 by 24-year-old Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex has become one of most recognized brands in fine wristwatches. Among the company's most important achievements: the first watertight watch design, the 1926 Oyster; the world's first self-winding mechanism, the perpetual rotor, in 1931; the 1945 Datejust was the first watch to automatically change its date; and Rolex carries the distinction of having the first chronometer certification for a wristwatch.
Rolex watches have been worn from the peak of Everest to the depths of the Mariana Trench, and constantly make appearances everywhere in between. Designed for strength and reliability but with a refined appearance, Rolex watches are a standard among explorers, connoisseurs, and executives.
A subsidiary of the legendary Rolex brand, Tudor watches began making a distinct name for themselves from their inception by Rolex founder Hans Wildorf in the late 1940s. Wildorf had been experimenting for years with the idea of bringing a line of classic watches to a broader audience at more modest prices, without sacrificing the extremely high caliber quality that Rolex had been known for. Tudor accomplished this by using in-house Rolex cases and parts but installing less expensive, but still extremely reputable, ETA and Valjoux watch movements.
In its early days, the parallels to Rolex models were immediately apparent in their original Tudor Oyster Prince and its utilitarian diver watch alternative, the Tudor Submariner, introduced in 1958. However, Tudor began distinguishing itself with small touches to their designs, such as implementing the ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Lollipop’ hour hands, both unique choices that gave Tudor their own design separate from their Rolex siblings. This trend continued through the turn of the century and into current models, as Tudor continued to establish its own voice and style in its timepieces, operating independently of the choices of Rolex. Some more recent Tudor pieces have introduced complications and ideas never implemented by its parent company, such as stylized second hands in their women’s watch designs or alarm functions not seen in any Rolex models. Tudor’s recently unveiled designs offer even more substantial innovations, including unique and decidedly non-Rolex bracelet options and Tudor “Manufacture” movements.
Though the Rolex influence is still evident in Tudor’s timepieces, they have developed into a distinct and noteworthy brand worthy of any watch enthusiast’s attention.