January 15, 2021
by Ariel Adams
The reborn Tudor Royal was a new-for-2020 model (debuted on aBlogtoWatch here) that introduces the “Tudor equivalent” of the Rolex Day-Date (they are sister brands) to more parts of the world. Whereas the Rolex “President” Day-Date starts at more than $30,000, the Tudor Royal starts at under $3,000. This new Tudor Royal 41 is the reference M28603-0002 and is a top-of-the-line model featuring a two-tone steel and 18k gold case construction, as well as eight set-diamonds on the dial as hour markers. It still has a price of under $4,000 USD.
Tudor has been winning fans given its close connection to Rolex refinement and construction quality, and because consumers indeed get a lot for their money. Most of the Western world’s reintroduction to Tudor was spent getting to know its sports watches (such as the popular Black Bay, or Pelagos). The question now becomes whether Tudor can reach similar consumer acclaim with its dressier lifestyle-collection pieces. We might want to call these “social and business watches.”
The Tudor Royal 41 has a retro feel to it, but so does the Rolex President, for that matter. That means one can easily see this as their “insert older relative position here” watch, but they also have a timeless “men’s jewelry” feel to them, at the same time. Tudor crafts a beautiful case here in the 41mm-wide size. The bracelet isn’t revolutionary, but it is handsome and ever-so-well-made with a design that also neatly tapers down from its integrated design where it connects to the case. The Royal 41 watch is available as an all-steel timepiece, as well, which might be a healthy alternative for those not into wearing gold.
Like the Rolex Oyster, the Tudor Royal has a case with a screw-down crown, sapphire crystal, and 100 meters of water resistance. The most controversial design element of the Tudor Royal is the bezel design — which not everyone agrees has aged as well. It is, no doubt, an authentic Tudor aesthetic, but you could also argue that the smart engineers over there might think of ways to make it more contemporary or interesting. Tudor was always trying to create a more entry-level version of the Rolex fluted bezel with this alternative knocked-style look the Royal’s bezel is decorated with. The idea is for the bezel to play with the light.
The problem is that these bezels made historic cost-effective sense because they could be stamped versus precision facet-polished (like Rolex’s fluted bezel). More recently, new production techniques make it possible for Tudor to maintain this classic bezel style but produced using potentially new machining techniques that could yield a slightly more contemporary look — especially one that best matches the Royal case, which is an ideal example of Swiss precision watch component manufacturing.
The Tudor Royal dial uses the same fully spelled-out day of the week window display concept as the Rolex Day-Date. It does this with a different movement, the Tudor Calibre T603, which is a base ETA automatic movement that operates at 4Hz with around 38 hours of power reserve. The dial color here is a sunray-finished silver dial, which I thought was cool since it matches the steel color of the case. This same watch is also available with a gold-toned dial, as well as without diamond-set hour markers. The diamonds aren’t massive, but they are good stones. And for the price, I think they add a nice effect to make the viewing experience just exciting enough. The stock Royal dials are very legible but might also be accused of being plain. Tudor is certainly going the conservative route here, but the brand did its best offering a nice selection of colors to keep the Royal collection as fashionably robust as possible.
Tudor’s Royal family competes exceptionally well in its space given the mixture of quality, brand popularity, and price point. The design is very much in line with the brand’s retro-revival theme that has worked rather well for Tudor over the last few years. Formal outfits and business suits are also often classic by nature, so a watch like this works well with them. There is also the entrance of the Tudor Royal into the now very hip “integrated bracelet steel watch” segment that values watches of this shape as ideal urban wait-wear watches for the active individual. That might not always look right in two-tone steel and 18k gold form as in the Royal reference M28603, but it certainly applies to the all-steel M28600 models.
Legibility and comfort are also on Tudor’s side. The dial might be simple, but the proportions are right and everything is easy to read. The case wears comfortably, and the bracelet exceeds excpectations when it comes to how it feels on the wrist, in my opinion. If only Tudor would apply its industrial know-how to some more truly futuristic designs. Rolex surely doesn’t need two brands that squarely revive the past with each new watch. For example, I’d love to see a Tudor watch called the “Tudor City,” which is inspired by modern architecture across the world’s greatest cities. I bet something like that could have some truly stellar lines, manufactured with delicious precision by Tudor in Switzerland.
In addition to the Royal, Tudor has several other dress watch collections (with its own ranges of products) that include the Tudor 1926, Style, and Glamour. Interestingly enough, its own website puts the Royal in the sports watch versus classic watch collection. If a business suit is your uniform, then indeed the Royal is your high-activity watch. I also feel that the Royal is the most interesting Tudor dress watch to consider for serious watch enthusiasts given its great wearing experience and legibility.
For men, Tudor Royal 41 watches start at a remarkably accessible price of $2,325 USD in all steel. That is less than half the price of the entry-level Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41. The cost is naturally going to be more with gold and some diamond decoration, but not by too much when you consider luxury timepiece industry product alternatives. Price for this Tudor Royal M28603-0002 watch is $3,975 USD. Learn more at the Tudor website here.
>Model: Royal 41 (reference M28603-0002 as reviewed)
>Size: 41mm-wide, ~10mm-thick, and ~47mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a handsome party or dinner watch while socializing.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Guy who doesn’t want to spend Rolex money on a classy social and business watch but who still wants something close to the Rolex experience.
>Best characteristic of watch: Solid and well-finished case and bracelet. Excellent overall construction and execution of theme. Priced very well and hard to beat Tudor pound-for-pound when it comes to specs.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial a bit plain for some. Bezel design can feel dated.