Reinterpreting a historical reference for a new audience
Tudor has a rich catalog of superbly designed timepieces. They have crafted many watches which have gone on to become sought after by collectors, with prices reaching new highs at notable auction houses.
I recently chatted to Davide Cerrato at Baselworld. He is Head of Marketing and Design for Tudor. The combination of both roles is unusual, his exceptional design prowess has helped to create a range of handsome timepieces blessed with vibrant hues and exciting details.
Davide has not sought to create replicas of old models as this would devalue those timepieces which are prized by the cognoscenti. Instead, his approach appears simple, reinterpret the essence of a former model and distill it into a contemporary timepiece for a new generation. However, I would envision the execution of the design process is far from simple.
It seems of late, Cerrato and his colleagues can do no wrong. In 2012, Tudor justified my worn shoe leather and the numerous blisters by revealing an outstanding collection. The Pelagos and the drop-dead gorgeous Heritage Black Bay were highly regarded by myself along with several of my fellow watch journalists.
The reference 7169, better known to aficionados as the Tudor “Montecarlo” chronograph is regarded as an icon. Launched in 1973, it was presented in different colors including a model with blue, grey and orange details presented on the dial. It should therefore come as no surprise that Tudor have embraced these colors once more in the new Heritage Chrono Blue.
The blue aspects of the dial act as a metaphor for the Mediterranean sea that laps at the shores of the sophisticated principality on the Côte d’Azur. The name used to identify the 7169 evokes thoughts of luxury and the orange conveys the warmth of the sun which shines down on the fortunate Monégasque residents.
The central area of the dial is grey, slightly lighter in shade than the original model, and features two blue trapezoidal shapes, displaying two subdials. The subdial at 3 o’clock imparts subsidiary seconds and directly opposite at 9 o’clock, an unusual 45-minute chronograph resides. A date aperture, perfectly square in form, is located above 6 o’clock. The chapter ring is presented in blue with white markings on the minute rail denoting the minutes and the integers between. Highly legible orange Arabic numerals are presented in a timeless font. The silver colored hour and minute hands are faceted and lined with Superluminova. The central chronograph seconds hand is orange and bold, resembling an elongated isosceles triangle.
A departure from the original 1973 model are the three-dimensional hour markers. Two bevelled edges engage with light and bask in the brilliance of the Superluminova positioned in between. Tudor has imbued this dial with delightful details which enhance the offer and improve the ease of read-off.
Some tastes have changed since the 1970s, especially when it comes to the sizes of timepieces. Back in 1973, a 40 mm case diameter would have been considered large, however, the new Heritage Chrono Blue has grown to 42 mm in diameter to appeal to modern desires.
The timepiece has a bidirectional bezel with a blue anodized aluminium insert. Whilst the bezel design would make it unsuitable for those wishing to dive, the water resistance of 150 metres should prove useful to those who like to swim while wearing a watch.
The vertical plane of the bezel has a magnificently knurled chrome edge and this motif is repeated on the crown and pushers. The crown is adorned with the brand’s logo, presented in a rich blue lacquered finish. Screwed-down pushers pay due reverence to the Tudor “Montecarlo” and encourage hands to fondle their superbly executed form. Tudor have exhibited matchless tactility with this model.
The watch is supplied on a stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp as well as a reinforced fabric strap supplied on a buckle. Indeed, it is the latter which particularly offers much eye appeal, blending the aesthetics of a vintage military strap with vivid hues that engender a contemporary persona.
Tudor has fitted the Heritage Chrono Blue with a self-winding movement bestowing convenience. The Tudor Calibre 2892 contains an impressive 55 jewels, oscillates at 28,800 vph (4Hz) and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
Beneath the solid caseback resides much horological integrity. The oscillating weight is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and the mainplate is decorated with perlage. Some may lament the absence of a sapphire caseback to admire the finishing within the case. However, purists will argue that Tudor is correct to fit a solid caseback in order to respect the essence of the original model. Whilst I would often side with the former group, in this instance I am ambivalent.
Whilst, I have used the word, “ambivalent” to describe one aspect of the Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue, I have no mixed feelings when it comes to the watch as a whole. I simply adore its handsome form. It offers accessible pricing yet harnesses quality materials and a robust movement. However, the single biggest allure of this watch is the styling. Once again, it captures the glamour and sophistication of a model from yesteryear but has been adapted and refined to suit a new audience.