Timepiece Chronicle

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A Brief History of the Tudor Advisor

A Brief History of the Tudor Advisor

The Tudor Advisor Ref. 7926. Photo courtesy of Watches of Knightsbridge.

The Tudor Advisor Ref. 7926. Photo courtesy of Watches of Knightsbridge.

There was a time when alarm watches were the most functional complication a watch could have. The most ubiquitous alarm watches are the Vulcain Cricket and Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox. Released in 1947 and 1950, these two alarm watches pioneered the complication with Vulcain perfecting the hand-wound movement and Jaeger-LeCoultre, the automatic. Vintage Memovox continue to command high prices but one alarm watch can be found for a reasonable price. The Tudor Advisor. Though never as popular as its competitors, the Advisor represents great value in vintage watches.

Released in 1957, the Ref. 7926 was the first Tudor Advisor. Whilst the Cricket and Memovox used a case with two backs to amplify sound, the Advisor used an adapted Rolex Oyster case. Unusually for an Oyster case, neither of the crowns are signed with the iconic Rolex coronet. If the crowns are original, then both will be unsigned. The top crown wound, set and activated the alarm and the bottom crown wound the main movement and set the time.

In the 1950s, Tudor were outsourcing for movements and the Advisor used the Adolph Schild manually-wound Caliber 1475. The Caliber 1475 was smaller than the movement used by Vulcain and Jaeger-LeCoultre, 26.5mm compared to 28mm. Whilst there are differences in the size of the movements, the principle of how an alarm watch runs remains the same.

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There are two mainsprings in an alarm movement, one that powers the regular timekeeping and another that powers the alarm. When the hour and minute hands meet with the set alarm time, the energy in the mainspring is released and activates a small hammer. This hammer strikes against a pin connected to the case back to create the alarm sound. Vintage alarms all share the same mechanical whhiirrrrr sound, whilst modern alarms have a more acoustically pleasing ding-a-ling.

There are only known to be three or four dial variations for the Ref. 7926, the rarest being an 'Explorer/Ranger' layout with a mixture of batons and arabic numerals at 12,3,6 & 9.  When released, the Advisor was fitted with either a leather strap or a Rolex riveted bracelet.

Only a few thousand Ref. 7926s were made between 1957 and 1968. The Ref. 1537, a dressier version with a thinner case and lugs fitted with the same movement, was also available until 1968. There is little written about the Ref. 1357 online and it is rarely seen in auction or sold through dealers. Why that is I'm not sure. Both the 7926 and 1537 were originally fitted with steel or gold dauphine hands, with a shorter red hand displaying the current alarm time.

In 1969 Tudor released the Ref. 10050, the successor to the previous two Advisor references. Instead of the Oyster case, a more 'traditional' alarm case was used with an external case back that increased the volume of the alarm. This was something that the Vulcain Cricket had been doing since 1947.

The lugs of the watch were different as well although both crowns were still unsigned. Stick hands replaced the older dauphines and the new Tudor logo, a shield, replaced the rose at 12 o'clock. The Caliber AS1475 was also replaced with the Caliber 3745. Tudor would produce the Ref. 10050 up until 1977 so there are more dial variants that accommodate the changing styles of the 60s and 70s. Then for over 30 years, Tudor never produced another alarm watch. The market for mechanical watches grew ever smaller and the time and money it cost to produce an obsolete complication wasn't worth it.

When Tudor reinvented itself in 2011, one of their new watches was the Tudor Heritage Advisor Ref. 79620T. When Tudor returned to the American market in 2013, they brought out a new black dial variant of the Advisor ( Ref. 79620TN. N for Noire) and earlier this year they released the Ref. 79620TC, an Advisor with a cognac brown dial and strap.

The Tudor Advisor  Ref. 79620. Photo courtesy of Tudor.

The Tudor Advisor  Ref. 79620. Photo courtesy of Tudor.

The ETA 2892 that powers these new Advisors was fitted with a Tudor developed module that added the power reserve function. This was the first stepping stone to true in-house movements before the release of the Caliber MT216 in the North Flag and Pelagos.

The Advisor as a much more contemporary design compared to the vintage stylings of other Tudor Heritage line products. The 42mm titanium case is 8mm larger than the original Ref. 7926 and has the addition of an On/Off button at 8 o'clock. The addition of a power reserve indicator and the On/Off aperture are nice touches for someone actually looking to use the alarm. Yet their inclusion is the reason for the larger case size and cluttered dial. I think these new features reflect Tudor's potential uncertainty when releasing a watch with an outdated complication. I would have been happier with a 39mm alarm without power reserve or On/Off switch that had a faux-heritage design like the Black Bay. They tried to make it useful and in doing so messed with the simplicity of the original design.

The Tudor Advisor Ref. 79620TC.  Photo courtesy of Tudor. 

The Tudor Advisor Ref. 79620TC.  Photo courtesy of Tudor. 

Unfortunately, I doubt that we'll be seeing any major additions or changes to the Advisor line anytime soon. Alarm watches are expensive to produce and have limited appeal, even within the die-hard watch community. Jerome Lambert, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, said in an interview that their mechanical alarms have the audience share of 5% compared to the market for chronographs. If that's the case for Jaeger-LeCoultre, a brand with a very recognisable alarm watch, imagine how small the audience is for a Tudor branded alarm.

Vintage Tudor Advisors, like the Oyster Dates, offer a great entry point for new collectors looking to start purchasing Tudor. The Omega Constellation is a more iconic watch but the countless references make it hard for beginners to spot the frankenwatches from the bargains. The lack of diversity in vintage Advisors acts as a safety net for budding collectors.

Great value, an undervalued complication and a name that is getting more respect every day. The Tudor Advisor is a fantastic watch for the price.

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