Vintage Tudor watches are known for holding their value well. In recent years, however, prices for certain vintage beauties have been rising fast. The Tudor watch I want to focus on in this article was not in production for very long and is, therefore, one of the most expensive and coveted collector’s items from the brand. Even so, it remains largely unknown to a lot of watch enthusiasts and collectors. Its niche existence is often overshadowed by the Tudor Submariner, a popular alternative to the more famous Rolex counterpart. If you find yourself falling for this charming, one-of-a-kind Tudor as you read, but feel intimidated by the model’s staggering price tag, fear not. I’ll show you a cheaper (and better) alternative from the same maker.
The Tudor Montecarlo: An Independent Sports Icon With Collecting Potential
The Oysterdate 7100 series is the second generation of Tudor chronographs. It was first introduced in 1971 and remained part of the Tudor portfolio until 1977. If you’re wondering which iconic sports chronograph I’m referring to here, it’s the one known to collectors as the Tudor Montecarlo. The dial is reminiscent of a roulette wheel and perfectly captures the spirit of the 1970s with its orange accents and unusual design. The best thing is that the dial is completely its own entity. The presence of a Cyclops lens over the date at 6 o’clock is the only feature that points to the prominent manufacturer this watch is related to. Unlike the Tudor Sub, the Montecarlo doesn’t immediately look like its Rolex siblings. However, it’s a different story with the case, bracelet, and smaller components. Here, the watch makes use of Rolex’s well-known Oyster case and bracelet. The clasp and crown both feature the Rolex crown, and the inscription around the case back reveals that these are original Rolex parts.
The movement, on the other hand, is not from Rolex, but rather a manual caliber from Valjoux. The gray-blue dial is surrounded by a blue bezel and features orange accents, giving it a memorable 1970s charm. For the later generation of this timepiece, the ref. 71690, Tudor expanded the color palette to include a black and gray variant. Tudor released a number of different references over the years, gradually adding improvements and various cosmetic changes to the sports chronograph. So, what do you think of the Tudor Montecarlo? Would you add one to your collection? If so, be prepared to spend a lot. This sports chronograph has turned into a coveted collector’s item, with prices currently in the $18,000 to $20,000 range. That being said, if you want a particularly well-kept example or a full set, be prepared to spend $25,000 or more. During my research on Chrono24, I even found an example with a “Tropical Dial” priced upwards of $70,000. Prices for the ref. 7032 with a steel bezel and black dial is even more astounding. This watch is currently on sale for a staggering $118,000. Those are some pretty serious prices for a vintage timepiece without an in-house movement.
A Cheaper and Better Alternative: The Tudor Heritage Chrono
So you like the Tudor Montecarlo, but those prices are making your eyes water? Well, I have good new for you. Tudor has a new edition of the watch in their current lineup, namely the Tudor Heritage Chrono. This isn’t just a homage piece that has borrowed a few elements from the original. No, the Heritage Chrono is an almost identical remake of the original Tudor Montecarlo, but much, much cheaper. Plus, as a more modern watch, it offers objectively better specs, and the 42-mm case is better suited to today’s trends (though the original 40-mm size still looks great). The case, bracelet, and clasp aren’t from Rolex this time around, but they have the same great quality and feel as those on the Tudor Black Bay models.
All that aside, Rolex’s influence is still evident in the model. The Tudor Heritage Chrono features an ébauche automatic movement with a power reserve of 42 hours, which is further refined in-house by Tudor. Rather than using the plexiglass of the former model, Tudor has upgraded to sapphire crystal. With water resistance to 150 m (492 ft), the watch is well suited to everyday wear. The very best thing about this watch, however, is that the essence of the original model has been transported to the modern era with almost imperceptible changes. At first glance, the watches are nearly indistinguishable. Yes, the opal dial is slightly lighter than the gray original, but everything else survived pretty much intact. Whether with a blue or black bezel, the sporty chronograph retains its inspiration’s fun 1970s flair thanks to the orange accents. I would personally opt for the blue version myself, which looks as iconic as ever in the newer model. The watch features a bidirectional bezel and, thanks to a 12-hour scale, it can even be used to keep track of a second time zone. This was also the case with the vintage watch. The date magnifier, on the other hand, has been relegated to the history books. That is actually a good thing in my opinion; I always found the Cyclops lens at 6 o’clock a bit strange on the Montecarlo. In any case, if you like the overall vibe of the Tudor Montecarlo, it is definitely worth giving the Tudor Heritage Chrono a closer look. You can add this Montecarlo-inspired watch to your collection for roughly $4,000 – a whole lot less than the vintage watch. Plus, you’re getting a modern watch with modern technology in return! I think it was a very wise move by Tudor to release a watch that comes so very close to the iconic original.