Downsizing to 36mm opens up a world of value: How to find a vintage Submariner for under $5000USDThor Svaboe
The surge in popularity of Tudor seems unstoppable. The realisation that Small is the New Big has made the Black Bay 58 a real favourite thanks, in part, to its 39mm case. However, there are quite a few of us that have also opened our eyes to the origin of the species, the Tudor Prince Oysterdate Submariner. Yes, for those of you that didn’t know, the brand’s family ties to Rolex were that much more evident a few decades ago, when the Submariner name was used for a Tudor model of pretty much identical specs.
The mid-seventies model is currently available on Chrono 24 for around $12-18,000 USD, instantly recognisable as the 40mm inspiration for the Black Bay 58 in blue, and a veritable bargain compared to a vintage Rolex. But hang on: what if we use the same search parameters that gave us a a great deal on the 18K gold TAG Heuer chronograph? What if we once again put our chips on 36mm and spin the wheel?
Well, have a look at the Tudor Submariner Prince Oysterdate from the late eighties, and the value is jaw-dropping when you filter for 36mm. The bezel-prominent design has no case side visible when looked at head-on, so it will feel more like a 38mm, and for many it’ll offer the perfect combination of family traits. If you have tried on a vintage Submariner or GMT-Master you will recognise the assured proportions and superb Oyster bracelet. There are small Tudor tweaks like the crown and clasp setting it apart, but it’s unequivocably infused with the Crown’s royal blood, offering the silk-like comfort on the wrist of its more expensive cousins.
This comes in a pretty much perfect shade of dark navy, with a size that makes it a chameleon of styles. You can view it as a period perfect tough diver to go with that frazzled T-shirt you love to wear on hot days at the shore, but equally as a vintage-tough dress-size companion to a sharp suit. Price-wise they’ll vary from $4,500-$7,000 USD, and the example in the shot above? In decent condition it’s up for grabs at $6,000, and I’d call that a proper bargain.
If you’re a creamy-lume lover, have a look at this black dial example with delightful cappuccino indexes. Here we have the instantly recognizable Mercedes hands, modern Tudor logo and the classic 200m/660ft script. Oh, and the charming cyclops of course.
So the only caveat would be the presence of an ETA 2824-2 under the Rolex family caseback. But get over it. Seriously. The grail-a-licious Daytona had the Zenith El Primero movement under the hood for decades, and the 2824-2 has the big benefit of smaller service costs, and well, it is nothing if not bullet-proof and well proven. To be honest, I am close to selling myself this Tudor vintage delight. Grab one before people catch on, and don’t share this story – the 36mm secret is between you and me.