Inside The Tudor Archives
While it’s true that a trip to Rolex’s Geneva Headquarters is a treat for any collector, for a collector of vintage timepieces like myself, a surprise tour of the Tudor archives makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When I last traveled to Switzerland, it was for Geneva Watch Days, and it was a trip of many firsts. My first trip to the Rolex HQ, in particular, is one that I will never forget. But, as many know, Geneva Watch Days is a week of never-ending activity, so for that reason, my trip to Tudor was a welcomed break that led me on a journey into the past.
Before I give you all the details, I have a confession to make: In terms of vintage pieces, Tudor is one of my all-time favorite brands. So to say I have been dreaming of visiting its headquarters would be an extreme understatement. As a result, my expectations were unsurprisingly high. Luckily for me, my tour of Tudor was one of those rare moments when reality far exceeded the dream.
A Shared Passion
Just ten short minutes outside of Geneva’s City Centre, the Rolex Headquarters beams brightly – fitting for a brand of the magnitude; though, in truth, I was a bit intimidated as the car pulled up to the campus. Yet every bit of nervous excitement dissipated upon meeting up with a member of Tudor’s public relations team.
Upon showing me Tudor’s wall of wonders, complete with Lady Gaga’s cowgirl hat from the Joanne album cover and a soccer ball to signify the brand’s partnership with David Beckham, my eyes quickly lit up at the vintage pieces displayed. Mentioning how not many millennials are drawn to that particular spot on the wall, the rep and I quickly discovered our shared passion for vintage. And as any collector knows, once you meet someone with similar niche tastes, a good conversation immediately follows.
From A Vantage Of Vintage
Quickly distracting me from our original plan to tour the METAS lab, the trip into Tudor’s archives was far more than just the cherry on top of an already incredible day. And like a kid in a candy store, my eyes darted back and forth from prototypes and double signed pieces to classic models that made the brand what it is today. The almost immediate fascination one feels when seeing a watch for the first time is a reaction that tends to become less common the more one collects, making it even more special when it happens.
Because my early fascination with watches started with divers, seeing an assortment of arguably the most significant divers in history was more than a little mind-blowing. For instance, fourteen-year-old me could never have guessed that I would one day have the opportunity to actually try on the Tudor Oyster Prince Project Commando Prototype. This prototype from 1967, which inspired the Black Bay P01 released in 2019, is a watch that many hard-core watch lovers flat-out refused to believe existed.
And while seeing that model with my own eyes was a thrill, a personal favorite of mine was the Submariner, reference: 7924. Made in the 1950s, this Tudor has the same case as similarly dated Rolex Submariners.
Having a love of double signed pieces, another standout from the archives was a tonneau-style watch from 1932. One of the brand’s earliest models, the Tudor “Catanach’s,” features the logos of both Tudor and Catanach’s Jewellers, one of Australia’s oldest jeweler families. The juxtaposition between the elegance of this 1930s model and the rugged tool-based nature of the Tudor Submariner “Big Crown” (Ref. 7924) from 1958 depicts the vast range of watches Tudor has been executing for almost one hundred years.
A Memory Worth Sharing
As someone who has been collecting for over a decade, genuine excitement is not always easy to come by. Yet my afternoon in the Tudor archives – seeing everything from prototypes that never made it to production, like the Oysterdate “Homeplate” chronograph (Ref. 7033) from the 1970s, to horological unicorns, like the Oyster Prince “Snowflake” (Ref. 9401) from 1975 – triggered an excitement not experienced since my early days of collecting. Everything felt new and marvelous.
This visit brought me back to a time when I begged my Dad to let me wear his watch. The child-like glee that made all of us fall in love with horology, the kind my father instilled in me, was revisited that afternoon. So when I left, I did so knowing I had gained an unforgettable memory to share for years to come, kindly reminding me that there is still so much out there to see.