For the last few years, Tudor has proven beyond a doubt that a younger sibling can stand out of its older brother’s shadow and shine just as brightly. The iconic Black Bay collection almost single handedly revived interest in vintage appeal in timepieces and Tudor has been capitalising on that, much to the appreciation of collectors. This year at Baselworld, Tudor released the all-new Black Bay GMT with a blue and red bezel that is immediately recognisable.
Christened the “Pepsi” when it was introduced to the market in 1954, it has its origins with big brother Rolex. Back then, Rolex was looking to target the jet-setting crowd that needed to tell the time in two different time zones and sought to provide its customers with a solution.
It was funny then that at Baselworld this year, Rolex also released a Pepsi GMT-Master II (also in stainless steel). It was a surreal moment seeing the two brands side by side at the fair, showing off two sporty Pepsi GMTs, so it naturally got the tongues in the industry wagging.
One needs to understand that among journalists and collectors, Tudor has been well regarded for the very fact that it has always been the underdog to Rolex, trying to assert its own identity. It’s an achievement no one would have thought possible back in the ’60s and ’70s. But here we are in this place and time, witnessing Tudor successfully coming into its own. Seeing the two brands exhibiting similar products harked back to a time when Tudor was deemed a poor man’s Rolex. Yes, it still gets a little sensitive, but then it only underscores the immensity of Tudor’s present success and makes it all the sweeter.
As Tudor put out in its statement, “In 2018 Rolex and Tudor are offering two unique GMT watches in stainless steel in two different price segments, highlighting the group’s legitimacy and its expertise in the field of GMT watches.” The fully integrated calibre might have borrowed some of Rolex’s expertise but it’s Tudor’s own in-house movement, something the brand has been stressing for a while.
Think of it this way: the Tudor Black Bay GMT is more affordable, but it’s also more hip and meant for a certain crowd that is no less sophisticated in their tastes. The Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi in that regard, is like fine Japanese single malt whisky – smooth and perfect, but the world already knows about it. On the flipside, the Black Bay GMT is like a good craft beer. It’s an acquired taste and one that you need to try for yourself, to fall in love with.