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50 Years of the Tudor Chronograph – Where It All Began

Posted: 30/03/2020

2020 is the second successive year in which Tudor is celebrating a golden anniversary. 2019 marked 50 years since the introduction of the snowflake hands and 2020 is the year in which the brand celebrates 50 years of the chronograph. Achieving such milestones really solidifies a brand’s established reputation and longevity, a status that is more than deserved by Tudor. Regarded by many collectors as the ‘holy grail’ of vintage Tudor, the 7031 and 7032 were Tudor’s first chronos and they have always been highly sought after due to their rarity and striking looks.

The Tudor 7032 Oysterdate Chronograph with brushed steel bezel

Oysterdate Chronograph

 

Known as the Osyterdate chronographs, references 7031 and 7032 were launched at the annual watch fair in Basel in 1970. They were daring watches and unlike anything before from the House of Wilsdorf, even in an era where brands were becoming a lot more experimental with designs. The watches were housed in robust 40mm cases that borrowed the Oyster chronograph pushers from its cousin the Daytona and had the 700 series twin-lock screw-down crown that was in use in the Submariner dive watches. This was a watch that was built for adventures. Unlike the Rolex Daytona chronograph, the Osyterdate featured a date window at six o’clock on the dial and a unique crystal with a cyclops date bubble over the date. The watches were equipped with manual wind modified Valjoux movements.

An original print advert for the Tudor Oysterdate Chronograph

Variations On A Theme

 

The watches had two references 7031 and 7032 that were essentially identical with the only difference being the bezel. The 7031 featured a black plastic tachymeter bezel and the 7032 featured an all stainless steel tachymeter. In today’s collector market both watches are considered rare, but the 7031 is harder to find in great condition as the plastic bezels were quite easily damaged and are now virtually impossible to find as a replacement part.

The Oysterdate 7031 with black plastic tachymeter bezel

There was also a prototype that never made it to production with a rotating 12-hour bezel that was given the reference number 7033. This was again identical to the 7031 and 7032, but featured the rotating graduated 12-hour bezel made from a black aluminium insert in a steel knurled bezel ring. Whilst this reference never made it to production, it was the inspiration for the first Tudor Heritage watch, the Heritage Chronograph in 2010.

The prototype reference 7033 with rotating bezel

Homeplate

 

The most striking aspect of these first series chronos is the dial. Tudor opted for a design that was both bright and unusual in its use of detail. The most notable feature of the 7031 and 7031 watches is the shape of the hour markers, which are like the home plate on a baseball field. This led to collectors giving the watch its well-known nickname the Homeplate. The main colour for the dial was grey, with a black outer track that had five-second numerals in bright orange. The running seconds counter and 45-minute counter were black with the latter having a bright orange triangle in the 5-10 minute portion. The stopwatch centre seconds hand is also an elongated bright orange triangle.

The home plate on a baseball field

There was also a black version of the dial, which is exceedingly rare. I would estimate that there is less than a couple of dozen known examples of these black versions and it is a commonly held belief that these black dials were sent to Tudor dealers to replace the spots that appeared on some grey dials. Due to this, some authorized dealers originally sold some of these watches with black dials in the early 1970s.

A vert rare black dial reference 7032 (pic: Phillips watches)

Tudor Heritage

 

Tudor launched their Heritage watches in 2010 with the Heritage Chrono that was essentially a modern interpretation of the first series of Homeplate chronos. Interestingly, they offered two dial versions – a grey and a black option in homage to the originals. The watches took the collecting community by surprise…but what a great surprise it was and the rest is history. The Heritage line of watches goes from strength to strength every year and is showing no sign of slowing down. The question that remains is, what will Tudor launch this year to celebrate such an important anniversary?

A Heritage Chrono with black dial

 

 

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