The Homeplates were fitted with either a steel or black plastic tachymeter bezel. Tudor offered a third bezel
variation in the second series, having experimented with the 12-hour bi-directional rotating bezel on the prototype
7033. The Monte Carlo chronos were available in three references:the 7149 with fixed plastic tachymeter bezel, the
7159 with fixed steel tachymeter bezel and the 7169 with rotating 12-hour bezel.
The elongated triangular orange stopwatch seconds hand was carried over from the Homeplate as well as the presence of
two subdials and date aperture at six o’clock. The introduction of the blue element on some watches necessitated a
blue acrylic tachymeter bezel instead of black on the 7149s and a blue 12-hour bezel insert on the 7169.
The cases of both the first- and second-series chronographs remained largely unchanged, with the cool square-shaped
crown guards and large-size 40mm diameter. The Monte Carlos remained in the Tudor catalogue until approximately
1977. The biggest non-visual change was, however, the improved movement. The Homeplates were equipped with the
Valjoux calibre 7734 which had been a good workhorse for the watches. The second-series chronos housed the Valjoux
calibre 234. This was a high-frequency movement with improved accuracy that also had upgrades to the column wheel
In 2013, Tudor followed the original Heritage Chrono that was largely based on the Homeplate with a second Heritage
Chrono — the Blue. The second version was very heavily based on the 7169 Monte Carlo. The Heritage edition was
housed in the 42mm case with sapphire crystal and had a blue 12-hour rotating bezel. I have to say that this is one
of my favourite Tudor Heritage models, especially when worn on the blue, orange and white fabric strap that has
become a trademark of Tudor’s over the past decade. Anybody looking for vintage vibes but in a modern watch that can
be worn every day — look no further!
The ‘Big Block’
In 1976, the house of Wilsdorf launched its first automatic chronograph. And it wasn’t a Rolex, it was a Tudor
self-winding chronograph, a full 12 years before Rolex introduced their first automatic Daytona, the Zenith-powered
16500 series, in 1988. This was a real coup for Tudor and put them ahead of other chronograph manufacturers of the
1970s. In fact, it was this automatic movement that led to the watch’s nickname. The rotor and auto-wind mechanism
of the movement meant that Tudor needed to design a new watch case that was deeper, hence the collector term “Big
Block”. A second aesthetic change that occurred with the Big Block was the introduction of a third chronograph
register on the dial — an hour indicator. The previous two series, the Homeplates and Monte Carlos, were effectively
45-minute stopwatches, but the new watches could measure much longer periods of time.
The first Big Block watches were the 9000 series with their references differentiated by the bezel type. The
9000-series watches were: the references 9420 with plastic tachymeter bezel; the 9421 with 12-hour calibrated
bi-directional bezel and the 9430 with steel tachymeter bezel.
All vintage Tudor chronographs featured a date and Oysterdate appeared on all the dials going back to the Homeplate
watches in 1970. The third-series chronos were also Oysterdates, but very early dials had the words “Chrono Time''
or “Automatic — Chrono Time” in an arc over the bottom chrono register.
The ‘Exotic Dial’
Anybody with even a passing interest in vintage Rolex and Tudor watches will be aware of the importance of the
“Exotic Dial” chronographs. In Rolex terms, it is the Paul Newman and with Tudor, the Homeplates and Monte Carlos.
Tudor continued to produce exotic dials that picked up where the Monte Carlos had left off. Collectors also refer to
these dials as “Big Block Monte Carlos” or “Exotic Big Blocks”. There were two variations of Big Block Monte Carlo
dials — a version with painted hour markers that were very reminiscent of the 7100-series watches, and a version
with applied metal hour markers. The dials with painted hour markers were available in two colourways —
grey/black/orange and grey/blue/orange.
Both dial colours were available in all three references. The black version was always teamed with a black tachymeter
or 12-hour bezel, and the blue dials with blue tachymeter bezels. These watches are now very rare and are
sought-after by collectors, especially the blue 9420. The dials with applied metal hour markers were only produced
in black, which featured white subdials and orange numbers on the outer minute track. This dial was only featured in
two references — the 9420 watch (with a black plastic tachymeter bezel) and the 9430 (with stainless-steel
In the late 1980s, Tudor replaced the 94300-series watches with the 79100 series. These watches retained the
successful Big Block case; however, these watches were only available with the two-colour, non-exotic-dial
configuration. As with the 9400 series, there were three references which were all differentiated by their bezel
type:79160,with a black plastic tachymeter bezel; 79170 with a black graduated 12 hour bi-directional bezel; and
79180 with a steel tachymeter bezel.
By the time the 79100 Big Block series was released, the dials all featured “Oysterdate” under the date window and
“Automatic — Chrono Time” above the bottom chronograph register. These watches are an important chapter in the Tudor
story as a demonstration of both Tudor’s freedom to experiment with more exotic and playful designs, and also the
fact that they were the first automatic chronographs out of the Rolex camp. What’s not to love?
The Prince Chrono
In 1995 Tudor launched the new Prince chronograph. Up until this point the cases of the Tudor chronos had been quite
deep and flat sided — a true “presence” on the wrist. The fourth series witnessed a complete redesign of the case.
Gone were the flat sides and sharp edges, and instead a softer case was utilised that was very similar to its stable
mate the Rolex Daytona. This new sleek aesthetic was further enhanced by the introduction of a sapphire crystal,
which accentuated the lower profile of the watch on the wrist. The previous plastic bezels were problematic in that
they were delicate and could crack quite easily. In the new series of watches the 79260 had an aluminium tachymeter
insert in the bezel. There were three watches available, the reference number referring to the bezel type. They were
79260 with black aluminium fixed tachymeter bezel;79270 with black aluminium rotating 12-hour bezel;79280 with
polished steel fixed tachymeter bezel.
As per their predecessors, the Big Blocks, the new 79200 series watches were initially available on steel Oyster
bracelets, but Tudor’s interpretation of the Jubilee bracelet eventually became the default bracelet as the Oyster
faded out. It wasn’t just the Oyster bracelet that was phased out – the word Oyster disappeared from the dial and
was replaced with “PRINCE”. During the first couple of transitional years, the use of Rolex branded winding crowns
and casebacks were also phased out in favour of Tudor versions. The Prince Dates were available with dials in a
kaleidoscope of colours, many of which came with matching leather straps – I think of them as Tudor Beaches, much
like the limited Rolex Daytona beach edition from 2000! The dial options were supplemented with versions that had
painted Arabic hour markers instead of the applied baton markers. Tudor’s tie-in with brand ambassador Tiger Woods
led to the golfer’s name being used on some dials, which are known by collectors as Tudor Tigers.
One totally new aspect to the fourth series was the use of a leather strap and Tudor deployment buckle. The watches
sold on leather straps were fitted with a unique half-endlink to create a neat flush-fit between the case and strap.
The concept had been used before on precious metal Daytonas, which had integrated half-endlinks. The Tudors’
half-endlinks were, however, removable thus allowing the watch to be fitted with a bracelet if the owner so
Something of a ‘sleeping giant’, these fourth series chronos are picking up as collectors are beginning to appreciate
them for their modern aesthetic and super high build quality. They are also beginning to appear in the major
auctions, so I would head over to our online store right now, to grab one whilst you still can!