TUDOR's rich maritime legacy and collaboration with the French Navy

Posted on 10 January 2024

 In a nod to its extensive and formative maritime history, TUDOR proudly announces its partnership with the French Navy, and takes a moment to reflect on multiple generations of advanced diving timepieces.
Commencing in 1954 with the introduction of its inaugural diver's watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner, TUDOR revolutionised timekeeping solutions for the burgeoning community of professional scuba divers. As pioneers in the field of diving watches, the brand offered a high-performance instrument that was both reliable and robust, all at an accessible price point.


1956 - Models 7922/7923

TUDOR's special connection with the French Navy traces back to early 1956 when the Underwater Study and Research Group (G.E.R.S.) based in Toulon received Oyster Prince Submariner watches for evaluation. These models, references 7922 and 7923, showcased water resistance up to 100 meters and were equipped with automatic and manual movements. The Commander of G.E.R.S. at the time lauded their "perfect" water resistance and "completely correct" functionality.


1958 - Model 7924

Impressed by the potential of TUDOR watches, the Commander placed a new order for timepieces boasting water resistance up to 200 meters. This led to the birth of the iconic TUDOR Submariner reference 7924 in the late 1950s, distinguished by its iconic "Big Crown" design. This model remains TUDOR's most iconic diver's watch to date.


1959 - Model 7928

The evolution of TUDOR diving watches continued swiftly, and in 1959, the brand introduced crown guards with the reference 7928, providing protection to the watch's main weak point from shocks. Adopted by the French Navy, this model featured the now-famous "Square Crown Guards" and various executions of the reference 7928 were utilized by Marine Nationale divers.


1969 - Model 7016

Aesthetic innovation arrived in 1969 with the introduction of reference 7016, marking the signature design of TUDOR diving watches. The inclusion of square indexes and angular hands nicknamed "Snowflake," enhanced luminosity and visibility on dials and hands, a crucial improvement for French Navy divers. In 1974, this model became the first TUDOR diving watch to bear the iconic "TUDOR M.N." engravings, attaining near-iconic status among military watch collectors.

1975 - Model 9401

The reference 9401, famously known for its "TUDOR blue" dial and bezel combination, became the most renowned TUDOR diving watch used by the French Navy. Engraved with MN initials and the year of issue, this model remained in production until the 1980s and continued its service into the 2000s, especially at the French Navy diving school and among combat swimmers.

The Fabric Strap Tradition

Watches ordered by the French Navy eschewed metal bracelets in favour of fabric straps. Divers and combat swimmers predominantly utilized black braided nylon straps and occasionally handcrafted bracelets made from elastic bands recycled from French parachutes, identified by their green colour and central thread in yellow or red.

TUDOR watches once employed by the French Navy are highly coveted by collectors, epitomizing the concept of a tool watch. These sturdy, indispensable pieces, with their blue dials and bezels un-weathered by saltwater and sunlight, evoke the spirit of adventurous lives beneath the ocean's surface. Presently, the TUDOR collection continues to honour this legacy through its diving watch lines, Black Bay and Pelagos.


Explore TUDOR diving watches

TUDOR was established by the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf in 1926, who sought to build a watch brand that had all of the same core values as Rolex, but at a more modest price. With their credibility, TUDOR watches began to get adopted for use by a number of professional organisations. In the 1960s, TUDOR Submariners became embedded in the French Navy, who issued these timepieces to their divers. TUDOR watches have a rich history of being worn by daring individuals in combat, when exploring our planet or competing in motorsport. 

Discover TUDOR at Michael Spiers


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