The NEW Tudor Heritage Ranger Review
We love watches. We really love vintage watches. We really, really love vintage Rolex and Tudor watches! The Heritage watches by Tudor are always interesting for us here at Bulang and Sons as they are watches that we can wear day to day, in all circumstances, but they capture the spirit of the vintage pieces that ignite our passion and connect with our love of the aesthetics of classic sports watches. In early 2013 I had a dream (no, really!) that Tudor were going to release the Ranger as its Heritage piece at Baselworld. In no way was I disappointed with the Blue Monte Carlo Chronograph, it is a stunning watch. I have always been a big fan of the Ranger, however, and if pushed to choose one watch I regret selling – it would be my vintage Ranger. What a watch…just simply one of my favourite pieces that I have ever owned. And so, it seemed fate that my first visit to Baselworld this year I witnessed the launch of the Heritage Ranger…and it was just a good (if not better) than in my dream!
Ross Povey and Bernhard Bulang
The vintage Tudors
When exploring the world of vintage Tudor, it is very difficult to ignore the brand’s strong links to Rolex. Many of the components used to build the early Tudor watches were Rolex parts and the watches had the unmistakable Oyster look. Tudor was also a very forward thinking brand t and experimented with different colours on dials and bezel inserts and of course was producing an automatic chronograph before Rolex. The two brands even shared names, where Tudor Submariners shared the name with their cousins. The Ranger moniker was utilsed for what was essentially Tudor’s Explorer-esque release. The Explorer is part of the tool-watch line up, but early incarnations were based on dress watch models.
In 1953 Rolex was field-testing the Explorer on the Everest Expedition, an event that has been extensively celebrated over the past couple of years. These watches were simple, often 3-6-9 dialed, ‘big bubbleback’ (or ovettone, as Italian collectors term them) watches, which are sometimes now referred to as pre-Explorers. Within a similar time frame Tudor was also field-testing their Cal 390 powered watches – also with 3-6-9 dials – as part of the British North Greenland Expedition (1952-1954). Tudor provided a batch of reference 7809 Oyster Prince watches for the expedition team to wear and test for the duration of the expedition and the explorers reported back to Tudor on the reliability and accuracy over time of the watches; delightedly, they performed superbly! These watches are to me the true spirit and history of the iconic Ranger watches that Tudor later released.
The vintage Tudor Ranger
The name Ranger conjures up images of a rugged and purposeful pursuit and is associated with military and law enforcement in the main. The Tudor Ranger is, in my opinion, one of the most iconic of Tudor tool-inspired watches. I refer to it as tool-inspired, as the vintage Rangers interestingly didn’t have their own allocated reference number. Instead they shared the cases, crowns, movements and crystals of standard Tudor dress watches. Yes, undoubtedly there were specific Ranger reference numbers, but there many more non-Rangers produced with these cases. This is why a vintage Tudor Ranger can be one of the trickier purchases for collectors. For many years unscrupulous sellers have been buying after market Ranger dial and hand sets and installing them in authentic Tudor dress watches that shared the Ranger reference numbers. There are some small details that the trained eye can spot though and I get asked for my opinion on Ranger watches more than any other model.
The vintage Ranger was available in both date and non-date models and were nominated as Ranger Prince Oysterdate, Ranger Oyster Prince and the Ranger Oyster (Prince referred to the watch being automatic – there was not a manual wind date model). The earliest ‘Rose’ dial watches were non-date and were marked Ranger Self Winding (the Self Winding in the familiar half circle shaped layout, beneath Ranger). The ‘Shield’ dialed models were simply marked ‘Ranger’ on the bottom half of the dial. The printing of these dials is unmistakable and under inspection via a loupe is reminiscent of the printing style of the matte dialed Submariners of the same era. The hands were developed especially for this model and had a very distinctive arrow-shaped hour hand and soft oblong seconds hand. Late into the model’s production in the 1980’s the Ranger was allocated it’s own reference number for the non-date models, 90330 and 90220.
The NEW Tudor Heritage Ranger
And so earlier this year, Tudor released its newest Heritage release, the Ranger. Tudor has some truly iconic watches in their rich history and for many collectors it was only a matter of time before the Ranger was re-interpreted for the modern market. Vintage re-editions have become a staple of many watch brands and it is noteworthy that Tudor were very much at the forefront of this with the Heritage Chronograph in 2010. Many brands are simply making carbon copies of their vintage output but Tudor is not simply reissuing vintage watches, but taking elements from the originals to create aspirational pieces that are both classic in form and contemporary in function.
See that classic toolwatch lines…
The Heritage Ranger launch event began with a very powerful short film that, in my opinion, truly captured the essence of what the watch represents – a no-nonsense tool watch that can be used in the wildest climes, worn by adventurers who exist in extreme conditions facing the dangers of a life lived exposed to the elements; a true adventurer’s watch. But this watch would be as at home on a city wrist, true urban survival, as much as in snow covered woods or sun-cracked deserts. There is now a blurring of lines between dress watches and sports watches, they are interchangeable and the juxtaposition of a sports watch nestling under the cuff of a double cuff in the business environment is now commonplace. The Ranger perfectly spans these two worlds and will have large appeal across a range of buyers. Most of us have our adventures in the cities and urban settings of our lives and the Ranger would be perfectly at home in this context.
A modern Toolwatch
Unlike its vintage predecessor, this watch truly looks, feels and could function as a tool watch. The case has been updated to a robust 41mm and the watch features a slightly domed sapphire crystal. As you would expect, the quality of the case is superb and the brushed finish is quite simply stunning. The watch has a very modern and relevant feel to it, which is helped by a choice of three very different but cool strap and bracelet choices.
(old vs new Tudor Ranger)
Tudor Strap love
As with all of the heritage releases all three different variations come with a fabric strap, this time it is in camouflage – the perfect choice for this watch and evocative of the adventurer spirit inherent therein. The work that goes into these fabric straps is phenomenal and it would be a mistake to simply dismiss them as nato straps. I would argue that these are the best straps available on the market. Even the shield shaped buckle has chamfers that evoke the glorious era of Oyster cases with the incredible polished edges. The straps are made on looms in France in a traditional cross weave method, where each colour present is a different thread, that gives the camo strap a three dimensional quality that gives the straps a luxury feel that simply cannot be created using printing.
(production of the fabric strap, image by Tudor)
Passion in each detail
And so onto some of the details. This is for me where Tudor really does get it so right with these releases. Beyond what is a very desirable high-end watch are some very slight yet significant details that appeal to the vintage collector market, who are so often alienated by modern watches. The first is the dial, with its subtle domed shape and the hand applied luminous markers. There are many reissue watches on the market now, with faux patina, but the colour of the Ranger luminous is mellow and subtle, without screaming old! A very nice detail (especially for vintage collectors) is the way that the white outer edges of the plot markers on the dial (beneath the lume) are showing – very similar to the desirable sports watches from the 60s.
Another very exciting detail is the way in which the lugs are drilled through, a feature that not only makes strap changes very quick and easy, but also gives the case an unmistakable vintage look. In fact, some vintage collectors use the transition from drilled lugs to non-drilled as the cut off for watches they consider as ‘vintage’. From a manufacturing point of view, this small detail adds significant cost but Tudor were adamant that it was a detail that was important for this release. It’s a small detail, but maybe one of my favorites about the Ranger.
Similarly, Tudor were making strong reference to their history with the bracelet. In the early 1950s Tudor watches were fitted with Oyster bracelets with straight end pieces that left a gap between the end of the bracelet and the case. This was addressed by the introduction of the flush-fit end piece, which filled the gap left by earlier bracelets. The Ranger’s metal bracelet has straight ends, which are another really appealing heritage feature that will appeal to vintage collectors, but also work in the modern context for which this watch is primarily aimed.
The bund style leather strap feels like exploration
(the strap options for the Tudor Ranger, image by Tudor)
And we could not resist to show it to you on an Bulang & Sons rugged 22 mm strap.
I love this watch. I’m not going to pretend that I am neutral in my view on Tudor, I’m not and don’t pretend to be especially when it comes to the Ranger. It is a great watch to wear and the size is perfect on the wrist and the weight just right for everyday life. The spirit of the original is there, but housed in watch that can live with you through your adventures and pursuits, becoming part of your own survival story – which is one of our values here at Bulang and Sons. It really has something different too, that is often missing from the plethora of modern watches. The Ranger has its own identity, it’s not trying to copy anything else and I really like that about it. I have no doubt that this watch will be a huge hit for Tudor when it becomes widely available and as my dream becomes reality it helps me to not miss my old vintage Ranger as much!
Check out Part 2 of the Review >>>> Tudor Ranger in the wild <
The Tudor Ranger Movie from Tudor
The Line-up of 3 great Heritage Tudor Watches…