Kitsch has never looked better – Introducing the new Tudor Royal Day Date 41, a case of mistaken identity that charms
Editor’s note: This is a Mind (stats), Body (design elements) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new Tudor Royal Day Date 41 watch. The new Royal collection overall has other variations too, but this being our favourite, we decided to focus on this version only.
What is it: The new Tudor Royal Collection
Why: Because there seems to be a market gap for a
- integrated bracelet
- sports-luxury watch
- with a day-date complication
- at the entry level pricing point
When released: Mid this year in four Asian markets initially
Where: After being released just for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Philippines, starting this November it should be available globally
Who is it for: For the bargain hunter who wants to have this cake and eat it too – an integrated bracelet watch with 100m water-resistance, day-date complication and attached with the legacy of Rolex for only 3’150 AUD (2’200 CHF) is almost too good to be true
How does it do: Let’s be honest; the runaway success that Tudor had with the Black Bay 58 Blue earlier this year meant that any follow up would have been criticised and scrutinised. And with the mix of elements from various other watches such the Omega Constellation (case), the OysterQuartz bracelet/bezel, Cartier Roman numerals and the Rolex Turn-o-graph bezels, they haven’t helped their case. But these very features, all distinctive in their own rights, make this release stand apart. Good or bad visually depends upon individual tastes, and I have no right to criticise this from that perspective. Personally I am a sucker for Roman numerals over Arabic numerals any given day. But logically speaking, it looks distinctive, the blue sun-ray dial of the 41mm day-date version is almost hypnotising, and the integrated bracelet approach with a trustworthy albeit outsourced movement at the low price of $3150 AUD is simply a winning combination.
Missing: Power-reserve of only 38-hours is way too low. Improve that and it’s pretty much unbeatable for what it is. Also the truncated numerals could be done away with.
The new Tudor Royal Day Date reference M28600-0005 features an automatic winding calibre ETA 2834-2 with a 38-hour power reserve. The 33.5mm diameter and 5.5mm thick — standard ETA are 29mm diameter movement so I am guessing they have modified the movement to better fit the larger 41mm case — movement comprises of 25 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28,800 Vph), offers stop-seconds for precise time setting, employs a Nivarox oscillator with adjustment via index assembly, and offers the functions of central hours, minutes, seconds, a Rolex style day window at 12’o clock (with semi-instantaneous change) and a date aperture at 3’o clock (with semi-instantaneous change).
Besides this day date version in 41mm case diameter, there are other versions too, that feature either the ETA 2824 movement (38 and 34 mm) or the ETA 2671 (28 mm).
The movement is encased inside a 41mm diameter — or 38, 34 or 28 mm — 316L steel case with a mixture of polished and satin finishes. For those wanting to buy this instead of the Rolex Day-Date (including myself) should note that the steel used is different from Rolex’s 904L.
This doesn’t mean 316L is bad or anything, rather majority of the watchmaking industry employs it. It is ‘marine grade’ and is considered to be trustworthy is terms of its hardness and toughness, but compared to the 904L it lacks in terms of acid resistance (and shine) because the Rolex version of steel incorporates a mixture of chromium, copper, molybdenum and nickel.
The 41mm case offers a welcome 100m water-resistance owing to its screw-down winding crown and case-back. The case also most strikingly features a fixed, notched bezel in 316L steel (or 18 ct. yellow gold in other version), with alternating cut grooves and polished finishes. As reminiscent as this bezel may be of other offerings out there, it still manages to leave its impression.
Completing the look is the 5 rows integrated bracelet in 316L steel (or 316L steel and 18 ct. yellow gold) with satin-brushed external and central links and polished intermediate links. The bracket comes on a folding clasp and safety catch.
I am personally impressed by the complementary use of polished and satin finishes on all the surfaces, so case body, bezel and bracelet. It is an impressive attention to detail and am sure the collectors would appreciate it.
I also appreciate that the watch face features applied Roman numerals and not simply painted on the dial numerals. Lots of brands including Cartier are occasionally guilty of that. The non-painted numerals under natural lighting provide a subtle shadow, that helps bring in a three-dimensional quality to the dial.
Other dial options include black, silver or champagne-colour sunray-finished faces, with or without diamonds. There are also gem-set white mother-of-pearl dials for the ladies, and they are only available in 34 and 28mm diameters.
Like I said, simple silvered Roman numerals contrast well against the blue dial, though I would have preferred if the date and day apertures had showed restraint of appetite and not eaten into the numerals. Overall I think it’s a very understated look that fights back due to the inclusion of a visually strong bezel.
Completing the ‘Tudor look’ is the winding crown at 3’o clock in 316L steel (or 18 ct. yellow gold) that is adorned with the brand’s logo in relief.
Everything about it is a mix of elements: the name Royal was first used in 1950s, the design language is of the watches from 70s/80s, and it is being released in 2020. Even though it seems like a recipe for disaster due to this kitsch elements approach, the final product ends up being a decent homage to the era this is borne from, and also to the watches it appears inspired by. The execution of the blue dial also surprisingly adds charm and brings the watch to the modern era.
A friend of mine said something to me the other day that pretty much defines this release. He has been waiting for a Rolex Day-Date for a very long time — well who hasn’t been — but the price point and availability have been an issue. And once he saw the initial pictures of this blue version, I knew there would be no turning back for him. It gives him, and perhaps a lot of others a chance to take a shot at that elusive Rolex Day-Date.
Tudor in-fact itself in its press release summarises this release quite succinctly – “The sport-chic watch par excellence, with its integrated bracelet, notched bezel and automatic movement, the new TUDOR Royal range is both versatile and affordable for people who like quality”.
The amount of features Tudor is offering — and I am going to ignore the low 38-hour power reserve — for a low price of 3’150 AUD, the timepieces, especially the new Tudor Royal Day Date 41, are very impressive and I would even say very aggressively priced.
Bottom line: Essentially the Tudor Royal Day Date is a very well priced new steel sports-luxury watch with an integrated bracelet.
Painting the Landscape
In terms of the competition, well look, design is subjective for people and brand loyalty and heritage are also more focussed on individual tastes. So for this review let’s just look at the new Tudor Royal simply based on stats (though I personally like the look of the blue version only for my collection and according to my tastes). I have listed below a few examples of what else is out there, and overall, the Tudor Royal comes out strong, its most redeeming quality being the exceptional value for money.
Here’s looking at you kid, I mean, here’s comparing it to the competition, both internal and external.
The Internal Tudor Context
What really baffles me is the price placement of this release within Tudor’s own catalogue. I haven’t heard anything this from the brand but it does beg the question: Is Tudor discontinuing the Glamour Day-Date collection?
Allow me to place this question into perspective. See, the new Royal ref. M28600-0005 in 41mm with an ETA movement costs 3’150 AUD. The Tudor Glamour Day-Date ref. m56000-0007 on the other hand comes in a 39mm diameter case but with the same ETA 2834-2 movement, a steel bracelet (albeit not integrated), and the same 38-hour power-reserve, all for a higher 3720 AUD.
This also reminds me of the Tudor North Flag ref. M91210N-0001, that comes in a closer to new Royal day-date in a 40mm diameter case. It is COSC-certified Manufacture Calibre MT562 but like the watch we are reviewing today, is offered on an integrated bracelet. It also features a higher 70-hour power reserve. The point I am driving towards is that it again costs a higher 5’220 AUD.
You see where I am going with this? Even within Tudor’s own catalogue, the new Royal 41mm Day-Date sits at a very decently priced point.
The External Context
There are a fair few options around in the luxury watch industry entry-level market that boast of either an integrated bracelet or a day/date complication. But when it comes to combining the two, they are truly scarce, and this is again where Tudor scores.
We are listing below some options, that range between ~1’000 AUD to 10’000 AUD. Remember, the Tudor Royal sits at the lower end of this spectrum.
In price ascending order:
- Tissot Couturier Powermatic 80: Ref. T035.407.11.051.01, 39mm diameter, 100m water-resistance, 80-hour power reserve, calibre Powermatic 80.121 which uses as its base ETA C07.111 (based on the ETA 2824-2) movement. Beating at slower frequency of 3Hz compared to the new Tudor Royal, it’s not an integrated bracelet watch though this version comes on a steel bracelet and retails for 750 USD. It’s also not what one would refer to as a steel sports-luxury watch, but is rather a nice looking entry-level dress watch.
- Hamilton Jazzmaster Day Date Auto Automatic: Ref. H32505151, 40mm diameter, only 50m water-resistance, 80-hour power reserve, uses calibre H-40 which is a modified version with the same ETA 2834-2 movement. It is very much similar to the above version, and retails for a slightly higher 830 CHF.
- Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic: Ref. FC-303N4NH6B, polished stainless steel 3-parts case with a very similar aesthetic to the Tudor Royal (barring the bezel), same 41mm diameter, display case-back but only 50m water-resistance, same 38-hour power reserve and 4 Hz frequency, uses the calibre FC-303 which is a modified version of base SW200-1. Comes on a steel bracelet but not integrated but that for all intents and purposes looks like one, and coincidentally retails for the exact same price as the new Tudor Royal, 3’150 AUD. It is COSC-certified.
- Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph: Ref. AI6038-SS002-430-1, 44mm diameter, 200m water-resistance, 48-hour power reserve, automatic calibre ML112 based on ETA/Valjoux 7750. Shows the functions of hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and day/date. Comes on a steel bracelet but not integrated. Very distinctive looking in its own right, retails for a higher 2’850 CHF compared to the Tudor Royal 41.
- TAG Heuer Calibre 5 Day-date: Ref. WAR201A.BA0723, 41mm diameter and 100m water-resistance, 38-hour power reserve, automatic Calibre 5 movement that’s based on the same ETA 2834-2. TAG has slightly modified the standard ETA version it to make it 29.44mm in diameter. Shows the same functions of hours, minutes, seconds and day/date on an azurage dial. Comes on a steel bracelet but not integrated. It is another watch that closely competes with the new Tudor Royal but retails for a substantially higher 4’100 AUD.
- Breitling Premier Automatic Day & Date 40: Ref. A45340211G1A1, 40mm diameter and 100m water-resistance, calibre Breitling 45 that uses base ETA 2834-2 again though it’s been modified to add an extra jewel. Seeped in Breitling’s own distinctive design DNA and heritage, it comes on a steel bracelet but not integrated and retails for 6’290 AUD.
- Bell & Ross BR 05 Blue Steel: Ref. BR05A-BLU-ST/SST, 40mm diameter and 100m water-resistant, calibre BR-CAL.321 that uses as its base the outsourced movement SW300-1. The 25.60mm diameter movement features 25 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4 Hz, offers a 38-hour power reserve, and the blue dial displays the functions of minutes, seconds and date. It comes on a striking integrated bracelet and retails for 7’300 AUD.
- Omega Aqua Terra Co-Axial Day-date: Ref. 22.214.171.124.03.001, 41.5mm diameter and 150m water-resistance, and in-house calibre 8602. With a 55-hour power reserve, the calibre 8602 also has a day-date change at midnight with instantaneous jump. Comes on a steel bracelet but not integrated and retails for 9’425 AUD.
Omega used to have the Omega Constellation Co-Axial Day-Date 38mm, ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001 with the integrated bracelet, 100m water-resistance, large 25mm interhorn lug spacing and the same as above Omega calibre 8602. It has been discontinued though one can find a piece for about ~6’000 AUD on Amazon. In terms of the case aesthetics, it closely matches the new Tudor Royal.
When it comes to an integrated bracelet luxury watch with the day date complication, one can always think of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Day-date 39mm ref. 26330ST.OO1220ST.01, or the Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar ref. 5726. Then there is also the relatively recent A. Lange & Söhne ODYSSEUS. But besides the fact that these will be hard to procure in the first place, they operate at a completely different price point.
Long story short, as much as the new Tudor Royal Day Date might suffer from a case of mistaken identity, it’s that very quirkiness that makes it a stunner in its own right. Besides, finding a high pedigree (read Rolex) Swiss-made integrated bracelet sports-luxury watch with a day-date complication at this price is simply like finding a needle in a haystack.
Do yourself a favour, if you genuinely like it, and have the means for it, get it. Sure seems like a winner to me.
To find out more about the new Tudor Royal Day Date 41 and other TUDOR timepieces, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are Courtesy ©TUDOR. All Rights Reserved.