The Fourth Coming – The Prince OysterdateBy Ross Povey
Regular readers will be more than aware of our love, here at Revolution, for the Tudor chronograph. They have long since come out of the shadows of its elder sibling, the Rolex Daytona and become a serious watch for the discerning collector. As a quick recap we can break the watches down into four series – the first being released in 1970 and the different series running into the 2000s. In summary:
1970 – Series One ‘Home Plate’ Oysterdate
Available in two versions, the 7031 with black plastic bezel tachymeter and the 7032 with steel tachymeter bezel. There was also a prototype with 12-hour rotating bezel that never made it to production. These watches were made in the grey/black/orange colour scheme.
1972 – Series Two ‘Monte Carlo’ Oysterdate
This series was available in three variations, the 7149 with plastic tachymeter bezel, the 7159 with steel tachymeter bezel and the 7169 with the 12-hour rotating bezel. Retaining the same case as the Home Plates, the Monte Carlos had an upgraded movement and alongside the grey/black/orange color scheme and blue/grey/orange color option was added with matching blue bezels.
1976 – Series Three ‘Big Block’ Oysterdate
The Big Blocks were in the line-up for close to 20 years and included both exotic dials and more reserved, Daytona-esque, baton marker dials. The most significant aspect of the third series was that they were automatic watches – the first auto-chronos from the Rolex family; 12 years ahead of the Daytona! The self-winding caliber necessitated a very deep Osyter case, hence the nickname Big Block. All three bezel versions were available.
1995 – Series Four ‘Prince’ Oysterdate
In 1995 Tudor launched the new Prince chronograph. Up until this point the cases of the Tudor chronos had been quite deep and flat sided – a true ‘presence’ on the wrist. The fourth series witnessed a complete redesign of the case. Gone were the flat sides and sharp edges and instead a softer case was utilized that was very similar to its stable mate the Rolex Daytona. This new sleek aesthetic was further enhanced by the introduction of a sapphire crystal, which accentuated the lower profile of the watch on the wrist. The previous plastic bezels were problematic in that they were delicate and could crack quite easily. In the new series of watches the 79260 had an aluminum tachymeter insert in the bezel. There were three watches available, the reference number referring to the bezel type. They were:
- 79260 – Black aluminium fixed tachymeter bezel
- 79270 – Black aluminium rotating 12-hour bezel
- 79280 – Polished steel fixed tachymeter bezel
As per their predecessors, the Big Blocks, the new 79200 series watches were initially available on steel Oyster bracelets, but Tudor’s interpretation of the Jubilee bracelet eventually became the default bracelet as the Oyster was faded out. It wasn’t just the Oyster bracelet that was phased out – the word Oyster disappeared from the dial and was replaced with “PRINCE”.
During the first couple of transitional years, the use of Rolex branded winding crowns and casebacks were also phased out in favour of Tudor versions. The Prince Dates were available with dials in a kaleidoscope of colours, many of which came with matching leather straps – I think of them as Tudor Beaches, much like the limited Rolex Daytona beach edition from 2000! The dial options were supplemented with versions that had painted Arabic hour markers instead of the applied baton markers. Tudor’s tie-in with brand ambassador Tiger Woods led to the golfer’s name being used on some dials, which are known by collectors as Tudor Tigers.
One totally new aspect to the fourth series was the use of a leather strap and Tudor deployment buckle. The watches sold on leather straps were fitted with unique half-endlink to create a neat flush-fit between the case and strap. The concept had been used before on precious metal Daytonas, which had integrated half-endlinks. The Tudors’ half-endlinks were, however, removable thus allowing the watch to be fitted with a bracelet if the owner so wished.
Something of a ‘sleeping giant’, these fourth series chronos are picking up as collectors are beginning to appreciate them for their modern aesthetic and super high build quality. They are also beginning to appear in the major auctions and so I would head over to our online store right now, to grab one whilst you still can!