Inside & Out Vintage: Tudor Prince Oysterdate from Theo & Harris
How I got this watch: Theo & Harris emailed me to ask if I'd like to review two watches. They sent me this watch and a Rolex Datejust Ref. 1601 which I wore for two weeks. This is not a paid review.
This is one of the most impressive vintage watches I've ever seen.
Whilst I can never be 100% certain that I've gotten the name of this watch in the right order (Prince Oysterdate? Date Oysterprince? Oyster Dateprince?), I am certain I love this watch. It exemplifies everything I love about vintage.
Some vintage watches are timeless but most are not. Nearly any sports watch created in the 1970s will be dated in some way; a unique case shape, a primary color splashed over the dial or some wonderfully dated name like the Oris Chronoris. The Oysterdate is not one of these watches, it is timeless in its design. You could put this watch inside a modern Tudor display, call it the 'Black Bay Gilt' and it would sell faster than you could say screw-down crown. Not only is the design a perfect example of how less is more, whoever had this watch last kept it in amazing condition.
The dial, with it's gilt text and minute track, is immaculate. No, I'm sorry, that's not a strong enough word. It's perfect. After two watches trying to properly photograph the illusive gold luster and fidelity of printing, I never quite managed it. From arms' length to right up under a loupe, the text on this watch is as crisp as a modern dial. Every serif on the Tudor name to the rounded block capitals of the descriptive text at 6 o'clock was beautiful.
The gilt used for the text and the minute track contrasts so beautifully against the glossy black dial.
I'm not usually a gold watch kind of guy and I continue that feeling to gold elements like hands or hour markers (Come Friday you'll realize how conflicted I was spending time with Theo & Harris' Rolex Datejust with pink gold bezel). Yet the color gold that Tudor used here, whether it was like this at production or have faded over time, is sublime. If the gold had been a bit brighter I fear it would have overpowered the dial, but luckily every hour marker, hand and gilt line has a warm glow to it. From the outline of the iconic Tudor shield to the angled hour markers, the details of this watch are above and beyond anything that Tudor makes today (In my opinion).
And then you get to the bezel.
As you'll find out on Friday, I was surprisingly enamored with the fluted bezel of the Datejust, but I'm still an engine-turned guy through and through. Not only do I find engine-turned bezels less flashy, but I would argue that they are more intricate. The fluted bezel will remain instantly recognizable and linked to the Rolex brand, but the engine-turned alternative is a little more subtle and low-key. It's like a little known acoustic cover by a favorite band, or a small role early in a now famous movie stars career; not everyone will know about it but those who know know. What it lacks in notoriety, the engine-turned bezel makes up for in charm. I can't tell you to like this style of bezel over another, but I'd implore you to search one out for yourself.
On the wrist this watch is a joy to wear.
This svelte 34mm watch wears a lot larger than you'd expect thanks to the long, slender lugs that frame the dial. Not a whole lot larger mind you, you're wearing a vintage watch and not a modern Panerai, but its still surprising given how tight a parcel this watch is.
Despite the timeless design and almost perfect condition, this is a vintage watch. This means there are quirks unique to this watch and this watch only. As I've mentioned before, the dial is immaculate and whilst they don't glow anymore, all the lume pips are still intact. The strip of lume on the hour hand is in good condition though the minute hand is a little more faded and discolored. Apart from that, all three hands without any noticeable damage to them. The crown was secure whilst setting and winding, with changing positions free of any noticeable wobble or unwanted play. The lugs and case sides are without dings or any major scratches, although there are a few minor marks on the caseback. It's almost not worth mentioning but I'm forced to be picky because the case is in such immaculate condition.
Whilst it may change when Theo & Harris puts the watch up for sale, I didn't care for the strap that came with the watch. It was a thick, brown calf-skin strap with a textured finish that, in my opinion, didn't work with the watch. I would have it on a tapered aligator or Horween. But that's the beauty of straps (and of drilled lugs), if you don't like it then all it takes is one minute, a pair of steady hands and you're sorted.
If the last 800 words of gushing praise haven't convinced you yet then I'll be blunt. You. Need. To. Buy. This. Watch. If I had the money available then believe me, I wouldn't be telling you this because I would have already bought it. Whilst the Rolex made me reconsider my own tastes and thoughts about Datejusts, this reaffirmed my love of effortless, timeless design.