When it comes to today’s vintage-inspired collections, Tudor offers two distinct series that not only pay great homage to iconic watches of the past, but are also more than able to stand up in today’s market on their own merit. These watches, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay and Heritage Chrono, have captivated the watch world for some time, and have kept the brand in a favorable light as it has gone on to release many other pieces in various collections.
Lesser known is the Tudor Heritage Ranger, a piece based on the vintage Ranger series which first appeared in the brand’s catalogs in the 1960s. The original was meant to be a “budget buy” alternative to the Rolex Explorer — similarly to the ethos of many other Tudor watches of that era — and represented the brand’s take on a classical, time-only steel sports watch. With smaller sizes around 34 mm, resilient Oyster cases, and simple dial configurations designed for readability, the series at the time was handsome but, sadly, not unique in the market. Today, the vintage Ranger (below) is relatively rare — a result of its being one of the most heavily faked and refinished series, which in turn makes the modern homage all the more interesting.
The modern extension of this series, the Reference 79910, uses a stain-finished 41-mm steel case, and features an Oyster bracelet with straight-end links between the lugs. The case, proportionally slimmer and significantly less curvy than its vintage predecessor, is similar in design to that of the Black Bay 36 released at Baselworld 2016. On the black dial is an outer minute ring, a 3-6-9-12 hour configuration with tick marks in between the numerals, and luminescent accents throughout. The hands include a wide arrow pointer for the hours, a simple straight minute hand, and a red seconds hand with a rectangular end somewhat reminiscent of a metronome’s. Powering the watch is the automatic Tudor Caliber 2824, with a 38-hour reserve — a movement that is actually a modified ETA 2824 commonly used in many of the brand’s other pieces. Although it fluctuates in price depending on the dealer, you can commonly find the Tudor Ranger for around $2,200 on a steel bracelet (below), and around $2,000 on leather.
The original Ranger reference was the Ref. 7995/0, a design which the modern Ranger both draws from and adjusts to create a contemporary look for itself. Noticeably similar is the dial configuration, from the simple Arabic numbers and tick marks, to the black background, to the vintage corporate “Rose” logo instead of the modern “Shield” logo more often used. The hands are also quite similar, with the broad-arrow hour and straight minute, with the one obvious change being the modern red coloring on the rectangular-ended seconds indicator instead of the simple steel used in the past.
Where the modern changes are most evident are in the case. The modern piece uses a wider 41-mm case that lacks the relative thickness and curviness common in vintage models, while the screw-down crown on the modern watch is significantly wider and thicker than that on the historical model. Finally, while the modern watch continues to carry on the tradition of the Oyster bracelet, it significantly altered its presentation, using the straight end links rather than the fitted links most commonly found on vintage and modern Tudors.
It is somewhat understandable why the modern Tudor Ranger has not garnered the level of popularity that other Tudor Heritage series, like the Black Bay and Chrono, enjoy. Probably most significantly, the original Ranger never received as much historical attention as the Submariners and chronographs for which the other two series are based upon, and even today, vintage examples of the Ranger don’t draw nearly as much collector interest as these watches. In knowing this, Tudor likely set out to draw a modern distinction between the vintage references in the Ranger line and the modern pieces that now represent the series in order to add new life to one of its less famous collections. This explains the significant increase in case size from 34 mm to 41 mm, the flattening and straightening of the case, and the use of straight end links compared to fitted. While these changes might not have been enough to draw in much more appreciation than the other Heritage lines, they have diversified Tudor’s portfolio, especially when one remembers the brand offers another adventure-oriented piece with the modern North Flag series.
Overall, the contemporary Ranger series has much to appreciate, but also some working edges that might turn more vintage-conscious consumers toward the brand’s other historically-inspired watches. Its dial is a nice homage to the sportiness and classic configurations seen years ago, while its case and bracelet are very modern takes on the more compact Oyster styles found throughout the series’ history. However, with Baselworld coming up — and the Ranger series only seeing a slight update in 2014 — it is not outlandish to think Tudor may revisit the collection with some fresh, new (or vintage) takes on the watch.
For our most recent article, in which I look at the Vulcain’s most recent iteration of the historical Cricket series, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.