Battling The Elements: Our TUDOR North Flag Watch Review
Since the mid 1920’s, TUDOR have been a quiet but effective player in the luxury watch market, creating a range of watches with a difference. Originally conceived as a sister company to Rolex, TUDOR have specialised in providing premium Swiss quality at a slightly more affordable price.
For the modern day fans of TUDOR, there’s a lot to be excited about and the brand has a broad range of fantastic tool watches – each specialised for extreme adventures and climates across the globe.
But in this review, we’re going to take an in depth look at the North Flag, one of TUDOR’s most versatile pieces, sitting right in the middle of their diverse range. But before we jump into the North Flag specifically, let’s start with a whistle-stop tour of TUDOR and it’s life as the little brother to the giant that is Rolex.
- TUDOR – A Brief History
- TUDOR North Flag Review
- Review – Dial & Case
- Review – Strap
- Review – Movement
- Review – Specs
- Review – Price
TUDOR – A Brief History
The TUDOR trademark was registered by Hans Wilsdorf in 1926 before TUDOR formed as a full entity in 1946. As the popularity of Rolex grew and grew, Hans spotted an opportunity for high quality Swiss watches at a slightly lower price point. But there was a dual benefit here, not only could TUDOR grab it’s own slice of the market, it would help to differentiate Rolex’s premium status even further as well as provide an entry level pathway for customers to move up to the premium brand.
As the TUDOR brand matured, they naturally began to specialise in ‘tool’ watches, utilising the high quality case and straps associated with Rolex, alongside off the shelf movements to create robust watches at affordable prices.
“For some years now, I have been considering the idea of making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches, and yet one that would attain the standard of dependability for which Rolex is famous. I decided to form a separate company, with the object of making and marketing this new watch. It is called the TUDOR watch company.” – H. Wilsdorf
TUDOR went onto ride the diving watch wave very well, partnering up with a number of different navies, including the French and US submariner divisions, to specialise in watches that could battle the elements.
The brand continued their strong dive watch range up until the early 2000’s when a large scale relaunch was planned to diversify the brand – expanding the range out to also cover classic and dress-style watches. This included partnerships with some of the world’s biggest names including Lady Gaga, the New Zealand All Blacks and David Beckham; plunging the brand back into the mainstream!
In 2015 TUDOR launched the watch we’re going to look at in more detail now, the North Flag. This watch had major significance as it was the first watch in TUDOR’s history featuring their very own in house movement, the calibre MT5621.
The North Flag takes its design inspiration from a watch TUDOR gave to expedition leaders called the Oyster Prince during Great Britain’s expedition to North Greenland in 1952. That watch was lauded for its durability and accuracy in that challenging environment and the modern day North Flag models itself on the exact same characteristics.
TUDOR North Flag Review
Dial & Case
We’ll start this review off by taking a look at the North Flag’s dial and it’s the simplicity of this one that brings the magic. As we’ve come to expect with watches designed for the elements, it’s all about clarity and the North Flag matches a large matte black dial with large numbers at the 12 and 6 positions alongside large indications all around.
Large indications are matched by large hands, with the long baton minute hand accompanying a large arrow hour hand and a yellow ‘lollipop’ style seconds hand. The contrast of the white and yellow against the black makes it super easy to read, perfect for high pressure situations where clarity is essential.
You’ll find two complications on the dial too, with a simple date indicator window found at the 3 o’clock position and a power reserve indicator, again in those high contrast white/yellow colours, at the 9 o’clock position!
The dial sits inside a 40mm stainless steel case with guarding all around from a high-shine ceramic bezel. As with all watches at this level, the dial is housed behind a super resistant, anti reflective sapphire crystal – so there’s no need to worry about scratching!
Overall the dial matches simplicity and class together well, creating a clean military-esque look to a watch that’s clearly ready for action!
The North Flag comes equipped with two different strap options. You can opt for either the brushed stainless steel bracelet or the yellow stitched, black leather strap.
Both options come with folding clasps and safety catches and match the case of the watch incredibly well, especially that ceramic bezel.
Of course you’d usually have tons of external strap options too but given this watch has an integrated strap your options may in fact be limited if you want to switch it up!
As mentioned in the history section, this was the first TUDOR watch to feature an in house movement and in this instance the calibre MT5621. Naturally, this isn’t like any normal brands ‘first movement’ given TUDOR’s strong links with Rolex and it didn’t disappoint out of the box.
First and foremost, the movement is a COSC certified chronometer so you know you’ve got the highest level of accuracy available. It beats at a 28,800 bph (4 Hz) rate and packs a decent sized power reserve at 70 hours!
Combining the high quality case build with this movement also gives you 100m of water resistance if you fancy taking a swim. But the best feature here has to be the sapphire crystal open case back, allowing you to take a look at the inner working of the watch whenever you fancy!
As a summary, below we’ve listed the key specifications of the TUDOR North Flag:
Case Size: Stainless Steel 40mm
Case Thickness: 13.4mm
Movement: Calibre MT5621
Power Reserve: 70 Hours
Water Resistance: 100m
Complications: Date Indicator, Power Reserve Indicator
Back: Sapphire Crystal Exhibition
Crystal: Sapphire with Anti Reflective (AR) Coating
Lume Hands: Yes
Lume Markers: Yes
Strap: Stainless Steel Bracelet/Black Leather, Folding Clasp
How Much is a TUDOR North Flag?
Given that TUDOR is the cheaper alternative to Rolex (by their own admission) prices for a brand new North Flag start off at a fairly modest £2,800 from the brand directly. If you want to opt for the steel bracelet option though, you will be expected to pay slightly more at £2,880.
Prices from trusted retailers are pretty much exactly the same as from TUDOR direct, so to pick up a North Flag at a lower cost you’ll be heading second hand.
But we’re sorry to disappoint those pre owned bargain hunters but the North Flag doesn’t drop significantly in the used market as you’ll find common leather strap models only around £300 cheaper at £2,500. Steel bracelet fans can unfortunately expect to receive no major discounts here either, with a pre owned version of that model sitting around the £2,550 – £2,600 range.
It seems that like it’s large brother, TUDOR watches hold their value very well which is unsurprising given the similar high standard you receive across both brands.
If you’re in the market for a super high quality Swiss watch at a smaller price, TUDOR could be a really great place for you to start your search. They have a large range of different models with the North Flag a great option for those that love simplicity, robustness and military-esque styling.
Both the steel and leather versions sit at a good entry point price and promise the same high quality of a Rolex without you having to take as large of a hit to your wallet! Given the price doesn’t drop significantly in the used market, we’d suggest saving that little bit extra to get yourself a TUDOR North Flag brand new so you can fully enjoy that new watch feeling!
That’s it for our review today, but while you’re here, don’t forgot to take a look at the Watch & Bullion store to check out the latest models we’re lucky enough to have in store!