Very Briefly: Tudor Chronographs (Vintage, Pricing)By Revolution
This is an essentials-only guide to the Tudor chronographs that were produced from the 1970s to 1990s. More exhaustive coverage of the individual references is available elsewhere on our site, the links are at the bottom of this page.
*All prices, in the last two years (2018-2019) unless otherwise stated, in USD.
Tudor: A brand created by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1926 as the Rolex for the working man, offering Rolex quality at more affordable prices. Except for the movements and dials, many vintage Rolex and Tudor watches shared the same cases, bezels, crowns and crystals.
Tech Leader: The first automatic Tudor chronograph (powered by the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750) predates the first self-winding (Zenith-driven) Rolex Daytona by 12 years. And it displays the date.
Tudor chronographs can be distinguished into 4 series:
• 1970: ‘Home Plate’ Oysterdate (distinctive hour markers)
• 1971: ‘Monte Carlo’ Oysterdate (colorful dials like roulette tables)
• 1976: ‘Big Block’ Oysterdate (thick case, from automatic movement)
• 1995: ‘Prince’ Oysterdate (sapphire crystal, aluminum bezel insert)
1970: ‘Home Plate’ Oysterdate
• Ref. 7031 with black plastic tachymeter bezel
• Ref. 7032 with steel tachymeter bezel
• Tudor’s first chronograph
• Nickname comes from the shape of the hour markers, like the home plate on a baseball field
• 39mm (compared to Daytona, 36mm at this time), squarish crown guards, waterproof screw-down pushers
• Grey/black/orange color scheme
• Date at ‘6’ with acrylic cyclops magnifier
• Manual-wind Valjoux 7734 showing with 45min register and running seconds
• Rare: black-dialed versions
• 7031: Current asking price around $47k. Auction prices in the last two years was $22.5-$35k, a black-dialed version hit $92.5k in 2018.
• 7032: Current asking price around $36k. One was auctioned in 2019 for $23.7k
1971: ‘Monte Carlo’ Oysterdate
• Ref. 7149 with plastic tachymeter bezel
• Ref. 7159 with steel tachymeter bezel
• Ref. 7169 with the 12-hour rotating bezel
• Nickname from collectors, for the lively colorways of the dials, evocative of roulette tables
• Same cases as the Home Plate
• Alongside grey/black/orange color scheme, also blue/grey/orange with matching blue bezels
• Retained dual registers and triangular central chronograph seconds in orange of the Home Plate
• Painted hour markers
• Upgraded movement, the manual-wind Valjoux 234
• Unique to Tudor in the Rolex family at this time: 12-hour bi-directional rotating bezel of the ref. 7169
• 7149: Current asking price around $19k-$21k, and $27k with box and papers. One was auctioned this year for $10.6k.
• 7159: Current asking price around $19k, and $24K with box and papers. Auction prices in the last two years hovered at $11.2k.
• 7169: Current asking price around $18k, and $23-$25k with box and papers. One was auctioned in 2018 for $16.2k.
1976: ‘Big Block’ Oysterdate
• Ref. 9420 with Bakelite tachymeter bezel (blue bezel insert is very rare)
• Ref. 9421 with bi-directional 12-hour bezel
• Ref. 9430 with steel tachymeter bezel
From the late 1980s, replaced by the 79100 series:
• Ref. 79160 with black plastic tachymeter bezel
• Ref. 79170 with black graduated 12-hour bi-directional bezel
• Ref. 79180 with steel tachymeter bezel
• The first automatic chronograph in the Rolex family, predating the Daytona by 12 years
• Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement with quick-set date
• Distinguished from earlier manual chronographs with addition of a third chronograph register, for the hours
• Earliest dials featured the words “Chrono Time” or “Automatic – Chrono Time” over the bottom chronograph register
• Automatic movement required thicker cases, hence the nickname
• In production for close to 20 years
• Dial details: applied hour markers with sloping ends, painted frame around date aperture, chronograph registers had a raised inner section which gave the dial a three-dimensional quality
• Rare: Big Block with silver dial and white subdials; Big Block with blue tachymeter bezel
• 94XX: Asking prices fall roughly into three bands – $9k, $13k, $20k. Auction prices have ranged from $8k-$12.5k.
• Same Big Block case as 94xx
• All dials featured the words “Oysterdate” and “Automatic – Chrono Time”
• Later dials had non-sloping applied hour markers and the painted window around the date aperture disappeared
Note: Big Block references are only differentiated by the bezel type. The rarest is the Bakelite bezel, as they are prone to damage and often switched. Collectors will always want the correct bezel for the reference, so when buying, be sure to check the reference number between the lugs.
1995: ‘Prince’ Oysterdate
Ref. 79260 with black aluminum fixed tachymeter bezel
Ref. 79270 with black aluminum rotating 12-hour bezel
Ref. 79280 with polished steel fixed tachymeter bezel
• Redesigned case, ditching the flat sides and sharp edges for softer curves akin to that of the Rolex Daytona
• Sapphire crystal
• Plastic bezels of earlier models, prone to cracking, were replaced by inserts in aluminum
• Use of Rolex branded winding crowns and casebacks phased for Tudor versions after a couple of years
• “Oyster” on the dial replaced with “PRINCE”.
• Initially available on steel Oyster (3-link) bracelets, gradually replaced by 5-link bracelets
• Many dial colours (eg red, yellow, green, etc.) with matching leather straps
• Some featured painted Arabic hour markers instead of applied baton markers
• New from earlier models: option for leather strap with Tudor deployant buckle
• 79260: Five years ago, these auctioned for less than $3k; in 2018, one fetched $5k. Current asking prices mainly range from $3k-$4.5k.
• 79270: Comparatively fewer numbers on the market. In 2015, one auctioned for $1.5k. Current prices range from $3k-$7k.
• 79280: Relatively plentiful on the market compared to the other two references. One auctioned this year for $2.7k; ten years ago they fetched under $1.5k. Current asking prices range mainly from $3k-$4.9k.