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Unveiled quietly in July and destined only for a handful of Asian markets -for the time being – the Tudor Royal is a slightly retro wristwatch with an integrated bracelet, almost a luxury-sports watch, but for decidedly entry-level money.
Like all of Tudor’s more affordable watches, the Royal is powered by an ETA movement, as opposed to the in-house movements found in the upper-end models. But the Royal still boasts the brand’s typically excellent quality, especially of the case and bracelet. The design of the Royal, however, is a mixed bag.
The Royal is good enough that I wish it was gently redesigned, which would make it outstanding; it could be so much better. In fact, the Royal is Tudor’s most paradoxical watch. The quality and wearability are good, even great, but the bezel and dial are both old fashioned and dull.
Nevertheless, the Royal is, like nearly all Tudor watches, excellent value for money. Priced at about US$2,400, the Royal has an Oyster case that’s excellent in both construction, finish, and design. The wide, flat face where it meets the bracelet is perhaps its most attractive feature.
And the watch wears well. Although the Day Date is fairly large at 41 mm (smaller models are available), it is relatively flat at a bit under 11 mm high, so it sits compact on the wrist.
Inside is an ETA 2834, which is essentially an ETA 2824 with the day and date function. It’s a low cost but exceptionally robust movement, and entirely appropriate for what this costs. The only downside of the movement is its short, 38-hour power reserve. That’s not a shortcoming if the watch is worn daily, but it is if the watch is worn periodically since it will stop after slightly over a day and a half.
Royal is a revived model name, perhaps explaining the 1970s inclination in the design. But two elements of the watch can be improved (and hopefully will be).
The bezel is an alternating smooth and fluted affair that’s been done before by Tudor – with little success – but here it is again. A smooth bezel would transform the look of the watch for the better by a long, long way.
The other is the dial, which is similarly dated. The wide Romans and railway minute track are highly legible, but uninspiring. A “California” dial, on the other hand, would be perfect.
The Royal is available in a variety of iterations, but the all-steel versions are the best looking. The combination of steel and gold on the two-tone versions isn’t flattering as it makes the watch looks even more dated.
The case is an Oyster case reinterpreted with a little 1970s flair. The case quality is excellent – and beats the competition hands down.
It’s available in four sizes – 41, 38, 34, and 28 mm – but only the largest 41 mm case is available with a day-date movement.
The 41 mm Royal is a big watch, but not as large as it seems. For one, since the bracelet is integrated, the lugs are nonexistent, giving the case a smaller footprint. And the case is also notably slim, measuring 10.6 mm high, in part due to the case back being nearly level – the Oyster back is almost flush with the case – allowing it to sit flat on the wrist.
Both the bezel and case back are screw down – the rim of the back is finely fluted for that purpose – but the case middle is flat and angular.
Though the lines of the case are simple, they are neat and sharp. The edge between the top surface and the plane that connects to the bracelet is gently arched but reassuringly precise.
The bracelet is slightly old fashioned, but less so than the bezel. Giving the centre links a matte finish, instead of the current polished finish, would improve the look slightly, but not drastically.
But the tangible qualities of the bracelet are apparent. It is sturdy, even the narrow centre links are solid. And it fitted to a single-fold clasp that’s almost identical in function to the clasp found on the Black Bay.
With large Roman numerals and baton hands, the dials errs on the side of caution. It does the job, but is far from interesting. But like the rest of the watch, although the dial is simple, it is well executed, especially for a watch that costs about US$2,400.
The Royal excels in every tangible aspect, particularly in light of what it costs. But it is let down by the bezel and dial design.
As it is, the Royal is a very, very good watch for US$2,400. With a better bezel and dial, it would be a great watch.
Key Facts and Price
Tudor Royal Day-Date
Diameter: 41 mm
Thickness: 10.6 mm
Material: Stainless steel, 18k yellow gold
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: ETA 2834
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, as well as day and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours
Strap: Integrated metal bracelet
Availability: Now at boutiques and authorised retailers in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Philippines
Price: Starting at CHF2,200 for the all-steel version
For more, visit Tudorwatch.com.