The New Tudor Ranger – Celebrating 70 Years Since GreenlandBy Ross Povey
Technology is so advanced now that manufacturers of cars, watches and even furniture can stress test their products by recreating the most extreme and challenging environments within the comfort of their testing facilities. Look back 70 years, however, and things were very different. Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex and Tudor, pioneered the use of what he termed testimonees to wear the watches when undertaking challenging endeavors. Cross-channel swims, exploring Everest and military conflict were all endured by Oyster watches, and the feedback obtained was key in the development of the watches. One such expedition led to the development of one of Tudor’s most enduring lines, the Ranger.
July 2022 marks both the launch of the new Tudor Ranger as well as the 70th anniversary of The British North Greenland Expedition, known as the BNGE. The Ranger is the descendant of the 30 Oyster Prince watches that Wilsdorf gave to the members of the BNGE. The name Ranger first appeared on watches in the 1960s but was actually first registered by Wilsdorf as early as 1929. The new watch has all the hallmarks of the 1960s Rangers with the bold painted hour markers, with Arabic numbers at 12, 3, 6 and 9. In a nod to current trends and in line with Tudor’s move towards more compact case sizes (Black Bay Fity-Eight and Pro), the new Ranger is 39mm, which has much better proportions than the discontinued 41mm Heritage Ranger from 2014.
The new Ranger is a celebration of the past yet with the unmistakable quality of Tudor’s cutting-edge new technologies such as the Manufacture caliber movement and the new T-Fit adjustable bracelet clasp. The case is entirely satin-finished, as is the bracelet for that full-on tool watch vibe. The eagle-eyed will notice the use of the new winding crown, similar to that which debuted on the Black Bay Pro that screws flush to the case without the exposed crown tube. Unlike the 2014 heritage watch, the RANGER moniker is now on the dial. I also like the red-tipped seconds hand that replaces the all-red seconds hand on the Heritage Ranger. All told, this is exactly the watch that people have been asking for!
Ranger continues the expedition watch concept that began in 1952 on the British North Greenland Expedition. Primarily a research and training exercise, the expedition was led by Commander James Simpson with representatives of the armed forces and the field of science. As well as research work, the BNGE was an opportunity to train the military servicemen in Arctic conditions. The expedition was almost entirely carried out by the British, but the Danish Army did provide a Captain, an army surveyor, who was sadly the one fatality of the mission in 1953.
In total, 30 men took part over two years. Each man was loaned a Tudor Oyster Prince reference 7808. The stainless steel waterproof watches were 34mm in diameter and were delivered on either leather straps or straight end-link Oyster bracelets. Hans Wilsdorf envisioned that Tudor would have all the quality of a Rolex but at a more accessible price point. To achieve this Tudor used the two key ingredients of the successful Rolex watches — the Oyster case and the self-winding movement.
It seems the watches performed exactly how Wilsdorf had hoped. According to expedition member Captain JD Walker, “Despite these trials, occasional time signals broadcast from England proved that my Rolex Tudor Prince watch was maintaining a remarkable accuracy. On no occasion did it require to be wound by hand.” Tudor termed these field trials as destructive testing, which coincided with a then-new advertising campaign that centered around Destructive Trials for Tudor watches. The premise of the campaign was about how well the Oyster Prince performed under extreme conditions such as wood cutting, pneumatic drilling and life on the wrist of a fireperson. In essence, Wilsdorf created a watch that both talked the talk and walked the walk!
Case and Dial: 39mm satin-finished steel case. Black dial with bold Arabic quarters.
Movement: Manufacture Caliber MT5402 with 70-hour power reserve
Strap: Steel bracelet with folding clasp with the TUDOR “T-fit” safety catch, hybrid rubber and fabric bracelet with folding clasp and steel safety catch or green fabric bracelet with red and beige stripes and buckle
Availability: From CHF 2,650