You can’t escape him can you? It seems like very time a bus drives past, you open a magazine or walk past a billboard, David Beckham is looking at you with his arms strategically placed to showcase the latest Tudor Black Bay or Pelagos. However, I strongly believe that Tudor’s recent meteoric rise in the UK and the rest of the world has been, in no small part, thanks to Mr Beckham’s ambassadorship for the brand. But recent fans of Tudor might be surprised to learn that, in actual fact, the brand dates back to 1926 and was founded by the most important man in the history of watchmaking…
Mr Hans Wilsdorf was the founder of arguably the most significant and enduring watch brand – Rolex. He also founded Tudor, which he envisaged as a more utilitarian cousin to the ‘coroneted’ head of the family. The name Tudor was actually registered in 1926 and then the formal company Montres Tudor S.A. was formally launched in 1946. But before either the Tudor Submariner or the Monte Carlo chronographs were released, Tudor was producing simple and elegant time-only watches that bore the name of Hans Wilsdorf’s greatest achievement – ‘OYSTER’.
Tudor Oyster watches started to appear in 1946 and in 1952 the ‘Oyster Prince’ was introduced. Prince was Tudor’s equivalent of Rolex’s ‘Perpetual’ and signified that the watch was automatic. From the very outset Hans Wildorf was clear that these watches would be of the same impeccable quality and reliability as Rolex. He had two key elements that he’d pioneered with Rolex – the Oyster case and the auto wind movement. His decision to bestow these two unique elements on the Tudor watches indicated his commitment to ensuring Tudor was a big success
So what exactly is an Oyster? The shellfish that lives its life underwater inspires the name and Wilsdorf designed a system that would hermitically seal the movement inside the case. This was achieved by two main principals – screws and seals. He developed a winding and setting crown that screwed down against the side of the case, making the traditionally vulnerable stem hole impervious to moisture. The same principal was applied to the case back, which screwed down to the mid-case and was additionally sealed with a rubber gasket. The crystal was sealed too – in the early years via a pressure-fit system and later via a crystal-retaining ring. It was these systems that have continued to make modern Rolex and Tudor watches waterproof until today.
In my opinion, the Oyster case is iconic and one of the most beautifully and aesthetically pleasing designs of the 20th Century. The balanced design of the case is, in my mind, the perfect combination of form and function. It has been interpreted in many different ways from its purest form in the early watches of the 1940s and 50 and of course in the Rolex Submariner, GMT-Master, Daytona and all the Tudor chronos of the 70s and 80s. In fact, just about every important Rolex and Tudor watch is an Oyster of some description. It is also still very much evident in contemporary Rolex watches and the Tudor Black Bay and Pelagos ranges.
There is a wide selection of Oyster watches here in the Nantwich shop. We would love to show you our selection of Rolex and Tudor watches.