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Tudor History

TUDOR is celebrating its rich naval heritage by announcing a new partnership with the French Navy, an opportunity to look back on several generations of professional diving watches.

In 1954, with the creation of its first diver's watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner, TUDOR began offering a new time keeping solution for the growing community of professional scuba divers. The brand, a pioneer in the field of diving watches proposed a high-performance instrument, that was reliable as well as robust, at an affordable price.

1956 - references 7922/7923

TUDOR's special relationship with the French Navy dates back to the beginning of 1956 when the Toulon-based Underwater Study and Research Group or Groupement d’Étude et de Recherches Sous-Marines (G.E.R.S.) in French received Oyster Prince Submariner watches for evaluation. These were examples of references 7922 and 7923, both water resistant to 100 meters and equipped with automatic and manual movements respectively. The water resistance of these watches was deemed "perfect" and the functioning "completely correct" in a letter by the Commander of the G.E.R.S. of the time.

1958 - reference 7924

Convinced of the potential of the watches offered by the Geneva brand, he placed a new order for watches that were water-resistant to 200 meters. This led, at the end of the 1950s, to the birth of the famous TUDOR Submariner reference 7924, recognizable by its large, oversized crown, known by collectors as the “Big Crown”. This watch remains TUDOR's most iconic diver's watch today.

1959 - reference 7928

TUDOR diving watches continued to evolve rapidly during the formative years of diving and in 1959, with the reference 7928, the brand introduced crown guards, two steel shoulders forming part of the case of the watch and which protected the main weak point of the watch from shocks. The French Navy adopted this new watch as soon as the first examples were available, the now famous "Square Crown Guards". Several executions of the reference 7928 followed and all were used by Marine Nationale divers.

1969 - reference 7016

In 1969, the reference 7016 introduced a new aesthetic in the brand's range that became the signature of TUDOR diving watches. A combination of square indexes, painted with luminous material, and angular hands later nicknamed "Snowflake" by collectors because of the similarity to the form of a snowflake. This new design allowed for more luminous material to be applied to the dials and hands, thus resulting in a longer duration of illumination, a key improvement for the French Navy divers. In 1974, the reference 7016 was also the first TUDOR diving watch to bear the famous “TUDOR M.N.” engravings. Composed of the initials M.N. and the year of issue in numbers, these markings have reached close to iconic status and are sought after relentlessly by collectors of military watches.

1975 - reference 9401

The most famous TUDOR diving watch used by the French Navy was the reference 9401, with its combination of blue dial and bezel, often referred to as “TUDOR blue”. These watches were also engraved with the initials MN followed by the year of issue on the back and delivered in two configurations, “Snowflake” and later with triangular indexes. This model remained in production and was delivered to the French Navy until the 1980s, but the watches’ use extended into the 2000s, especially at the French Navy diving school and amongst combat swimmers. Although officially decommissioned fifteen years ago, Tudor MNs are seen sometimes still today on the wrists of reservists and veteran servicemen alike.

The fabric strap

The watches ordered by the French Navy were typically ordered without a metal bracelet and were worn instead on fabric straps. Two types seem to have been particularly utilized by divers and combat swimmers; black braided nylon straps and, more rarely and handcrafted bracelets made from elastic bands recycled from French-issue parachutes, recognizable by their green color and their central thread of either yellow or red.

TUDOR watches formerly used by the French Navy are particularly sought after by collectors, as they embody the very concept of the tool watch. Robust, essential items of equipment, with their blue dials and bezels washed out by salt water and the sun, they evoke the daring of a life of adventure under the surface of the five oceans. Today, the TUDOR collection perpetuates this heritage through its lines of diving watches, Black Bay and Pelagos.