What signature design element sets a Tudor watch apart? The Snowflake hands, of course.
In the world of watches, the year 1969 marked a significant milestone. This was the year when the legendary Speedmaster became an iconic timepiece after its role in lunar landing was established. Additionally, it was the year that witnessed the introduction of the first automatic chronographs. Tudor also joined this league by launching its now-famous snowflake hands.
They first appeared in TUDOR’s 1969 catalogue on the dive watch references 7016 and 7021. The idea behind the hands was simple: create maximum legibility by allowing for generous application of luminescent material, therefore making the watch more functional and relevant to divers who relied on their watch in the water.
The signature square hour-markers and “Snowflake” hands, designed by TUDOR to offer larger luminous surfaces and thus improve legibility, are fashioned from luminescent ceramic composite for optimal legibility in challenging conditions.
The design was used until the mid-eighties for diving watches exclusively, the “snowflake” configuration then re-entered the Tudor collection at Baselworld 2012 with the combined launch of the popular Black Bay and Pelagos models. Today it remains the single most proprietary and recognized Tudor design element.
It all starts with a thin, but strong, brass ribbon. The metal ribbon is roughly the thickness of the watch hands, and that is to say it’s very thin. This brass ribbon is first unfurled, and then the shape of a snowflake hand is punched out of it by a stamping machine.
The pattern that’s created eventually becomes the “inside” of the Snowflake hands. In order to create the entire hand, the diameter of the pattern is enlarged and the machine stamps the pattern again, but this time the whole hand is produced, only it’s hollow - there is no material filling the hand at this stage.
The hand is polished and finished before being filled with luminescent material for a long-lasting glow. After using a proprietary technique to fill the hands, they are placed on a card and prepared for a watchmaker to install them by hand. This part of the process is impossible to do by machine, making the watchmaker a crucial part of this phase of assembly. After all, the hands are a part of the watch that you see every time you look for the time.
Every TUDOR watch, including the Black Bay, is assembled and fully tested to TUDOR’s superior standards at the new TUDOR Manufacture located in the Le Locle, Switzerland.
This new state-of-the-art facility, bringing together the know-how of watchmakers with the best in production management and automated testing systems, was completed in 2021 after three years of construction. All decked out in TUDOR red, the Manufacture spans over four levels totaling more than 5,500 square meters and is physically and visually connected to the neighboring Kenissi Manufacture, the TUDOR movement production facility founded in 2016.
With Kenissi and a network of TUDOR-owned affiliates, the brand has been able to integrate the development and production of high-performance mechanical calibers. As a consequence, TUDOR now fully masters the manufacturing of strategic components and can guarantee their quality.
Since the brand’s creation by Hans Wilsdorf in 1926, and in line with his vision of the ideal timepiece, TUDOR has been ceaselessly creating watches that are as robust, durable, reliable and precise as possible. On the strength of this experience, and confident in the superior quality of its watches, TUDOR offers a five-year guarantee for all its products. This guarantee does not require the watch to be registered or submitted to periodic checks and is transferable. TUDOR also recommends that its watches should be serviced approximately every ten years depending on the model and the extent of its use on a day-to-day basis.
TUDOR is an award-winning Swiss-made watch brand, offering mechanical watches with sophisticated style, proven reliability and unmatched value for money. The origins of TUDOR date back to 1926, when “The Tudor” was first registered as a brand on behalf of the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf. He officially set up the Montres TUDOR SA company in 1946 to produce watches that respect the traditional Rolex philosophy of quality at a more affordable price point. Throughout their history, thanks to their robustness and affordability, TUDOR watches have been chosen by some of the boldest adventurers, on land, in the air, underwater and on ice. Today, the TUDOR collection includes iconic lines such as Black Bay, Pelagos, 1926 and Royal. Since 2015, TUDOR has also offered models with mechanical Manufacture Calibres with multiple functions and superior performance.
In 2017, TUDOR launched a new campaign with the #BornToDare signature. It reflects both the history of the brand and what it stands for today. It tells the adventures of individuals who have achieved the extraordinary on land, on ice, in the air or underwater, with a TUDOR watch on their wrists. It also refers to the vision of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of TUDOR, who manufactured TUDOR watches to withstand the most extreme conditions, watches made for the most daring lifestyles. It is testimony to TUDOR's singular approach to watchmaking, which has made it what it is today. At the cutting edge of the watchmaking industry, its innovations are now essential benchmarks. The TUDOR #BornToDare spirit is supported throughout the world by first class ambassadors, whose life achievements result directly from a daring approach to life.