Gone but not forgotten – a love letter to the Tudor North FlagRicardo Sime
It’s 2015. Baselworld is still a thing. Hundreds of watch media outlets have descended on the town of Basel, Switzerland to report on the latest watch releases. Many of them have their eyes fixated on Tudor, as leaks are pointing towards them releasing their first in-house movement. And as the brand opens its doors to the public, the leaks prove true. The world is introduced to the MT5612 and MT5621 movement. Both come with COSC certification, 70 hours of power reserve and silicon hairsprings, immediately placing the brand at the head of the pack in their price point. Yet, while the MT5612 is placed within their three-year-old Pelagos diver, the MT5621 finds a home in a completely new reference called the North Flag.
Inspired by the Tudor Oyster Prince worn during the British North Greenland Expedition of 1952 and the Tudor Ranger of the 1970’s, the watch had a sporty vibe that was immediately recognizable through its sharp lines and brushed surfaces. The case came in at 40mm, a very accessible size, while the dial featured a power reserve indicator and yellow accents that provided great contrast against a black backdrop. They also decided to give us a glass caseback, putting the movement on full display. Finally, the watch came on an integrated bracelet; a point of contention for some at that time (note: this was years before the integrated bracelet craze)
After Baselworld, the Pelagos and the North Flag went in completely different directions. The Pelagos enjoyed a cult following and continued media attention as many people hailed it as the “Diver’s Diver”. The North Flag, on the other hand, seemed to fade away from the scene. Especially with the continued success of the Black Bay collection.
Yet, it never faded away from my view.
From the moment it was released, I was absolutely head over hills in love with the reference. To me, it was the quintessential everyday watch. It had the water resistance (100 metres) and the case to stand up to anything. They even added a ceramic black bezel that not only fit in perfectly with the overall design but protected the bezel steel from the occasional ding and scratch. And just in case anyone had issues with the integrated bracelet, a beautiful yellow stitched leather strap was available as well. There was so much going for the watch, that for years, I regularly pondered over purchasing a North Flag.
There was just one thing that would always hold me back and that was the use of yellow. Though the yellow made for a very recognisable design, I always yearned for something different. A blue or their trademark red would make the watch an instant buy in my eyes. Eventually, I just decided that I would wait to see what the brand would do with future releases of the North Flag, hoping it would follow the same script as the Black Bay.
Weeks of waiting turned into months. Months turned into years. And now, six years later, I’m greeted by the news that the North Flag would be discontinued; with no successor announced.
When I look back at those years, it was hard to ignore all the writing on the wall. Numerous discussions with Authorised Dealers painted a clear picture. After the initial release and the accompanying sales, the watch just didn’t fly off the shelf. Tudor was focused on the Black Bay and the North Flag was treated as a one-off. Which was a shame because here you had a watch that represented a new chapter in Tudor’s history that I feared would simply be forgotten.
But that wasn’t the case. While doing the research for this article, I soon realised that many people still have their North Flags and absolutely love the watch. Furthermore, with the recent discontinuation, the watch has experienced a bit of a renaissance amongst the community, with many realizing just how great of a watch it was. And though I hope Tudor eventually revisits the North Flag, should they decide not to, there is no question that its place in history is forever sealed.