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Tudor and Rolex are popular watch brands with a close relationship, but while Tudor once heavily promoted its connection to Rolex, it’s now striking out on its own. Find out how Tudor and Rolex timepieces compare, their brand connection, and which one is right for you.
Are Tudor and Rolex the Same Company?
Tudor and Rolex are sister companies both owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. Hans Wilsdorf founded the Tudor company in 1926, only six years after establishing Rolex. His goal was to corner a larger market share by producing an affordable alternative to his flagship brand.
Because of his drive to succeed, he integrated two of Rolex’s most crucial technologies into the Tudor watchmaking process: the waterproof Oyster case and the self-winding Perpetual movement.
Tudor vs. Rolex: What Is the Difference?
Although Tudor and Rolex are closely linked, some significant differences between the brands may factor into your purchasing decisions.
Rolex watches are known to be crafted from top-of-the-line materials, with the brand manufacturing many of its own metals. The company mixed all 18K gold used in Rolex watches, ensuring longevity and high-quality products.
Tudor uses standard 316L steel alloys and sources some of its metals from third parties, allowing the brand to offer a more affordable price range. Despite the differences in construction materials, both brands’ engineering, build quality, and technical capabilities are identical.
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As of 2004, Rolex develops and manufactures all its watch movements in-house. All calibers are created at the Bienne, Switzerland site before being sent to the Rolex headquarters in Les Acacias. The investment in research and design and materials used to manufacture the movements contribute to Rolex’s high price tags. Rolex calibers include cutting-edge technologies, such as a balance wheel equipped with gold Microstellar nuts for precise regulation and optimal stability. The movements also include the blue Parachrom hairspring, which offers antimagnetic properties and a traversing balance bridge to improve chronometric performance and increase shock resistance.
Unlike Rolex, Tudor does not develop their movements in-house. Tudor calibers are outsourced to Swiss movement making company ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse. ETA creates ébauches — partially assembled movements — that Tudor can integrate into their designs. Outsourcing allows Tudor to sell their designs at a lower price. The only exception is the caliber MT5621, developed in-house in 2015. The caliber features a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, variable inertia balance, and bidirectional rotor.
Tudor and Rolex target different sectors of the watchmaking industry. Rolex watches were marketed as a status symbol from the company’s inception. They are considered luxury timepieces worn by celebrities and groundbreaking individuals. Rolex watches have been worn during Edmund Hillary’s trek to the summit of Mt. Everest and oceanographer Jacques Piccard’s expedition into the Mariana Trench. They’ve also been
featured in classic films, from the James Bond franchise to The Color of Money to Get Carter.
Tudor was always positioned as Rolex’s more affordable younger sibling. This meant it didn’t garner the attention and prestige of the original company, and sales fell. However, since its rebranding campaign in 2010, Tudor has developed several exclusive watch series. This includes the Pelagos and Black Bay, which use a combination of nostalgic design elements and advanced technological features to cement Tudor’s new brand identity. Although still more accessible than Rolex, the brand is now aimed at hard-working people who appreciate the engineering and precision of a fine watch.
The major difference between the two brands is the price.
Rolex watches for men and women have always been considered high-end luxury items. If you have considered investing in a Rolex, you may have wondered “How much is a Rolex?” The price of a Rolex depends on several crucial factors, including market demand, model, materials, and complications.
Rolex watches for women and men can cost between $6,500 MSRP and $75,000 MSRP, with rare or vintage pieces fetching an even higher price in the collector’s market. But, unlike Tudor, Rolex watches hold their value over time, making them valuable investments or heirloom pieces. Popular Rolex models, such as the Daytona and Pepsi Datejust, can increase by up to 200% in value.
Tudor occupies the mid-level luxury sector of the watch industry. Because they outsource the manufacturing of many of their components, you can find Tudor watches for
between $1,900 MRSP and $16,825 MSRP. Even its newest series of watches with in-house calibers, such as the Black Bay, are relatively affordable compared to Rolex watches. The Black Bay Reference M79030N, widely considered the brand’s most covetable model, retails for $3,800 MSRP.
Tudor vs. Rolex: Which One Should You Choose?
Although the two brand images are different, the quality of the product you’re purchasing is very similar between Tudor and Rolex. As an affordable alternative to Rolex, Tudor is a viable option for many timepiece enthusiasts and makes a wonderful addition to your collection. Despite its growing popularity and established reputation, Tudor hasn’t surpassed Rolex in its importance as a global brand. Although the gap between the two brands is growing smaller, Rolex watches notably hold their value in the pre-owned market, making them a safe and worthwhile investment.
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