The Tudor North Flag is a novel creation — original, fresh and unique, cutting-edge even, yet quite misunderstood due to its contradicting design language. For the most discerning eye, the Tudor North Flag is an expressive yet minimalist timepiece, somewhat lost between a dress and a sports watch, but nonetheless a vintage-inspired piece designed with the future’s technology and precision.
The Tudor North Flag is the brand’s new collection equipped with the first-ever independently developed movement, the Caliber MT5621. It is a luxury stainless steel timepiece that also exhibits the qualities of a classic tool watch, from bold high-contrast luminous hands to matte dial. This contemporary wristwatch from Tudor gives off a certain retro vibe with design cues reminiscent of the ‘70s.
Because this timepiece has a design language alien to watchmaking codes at the time of its release, it is easily regarded as an odd experiment and nothing more than the brand’s effort to, albeit impulsively, re-enter the US market. But unlike many Tudor watches that draw its design from its big brother Rolex, the North Flag stands on its own. At the foremost, it has no Rolex equivalent. And while it draws inspiration from great vintages before it, its eyes are into the future flaunting crisp architecture in its design.
Anyone talking about the Tudor house nowadays, most especially its resurgence in the US market, is most definitely referring to the Tudor Heritage Chrono which had jet-propelled expectations for future models. And of course, one probably couldn’t look away from the Tudor Pelagos, or the much coveted Tudor Black Bay, when in need of a diver watch. But to give the North Flag its fair share of the limelight, one can say it is more creative, more forward-looking than the rest of these watches.
|Tudor North Flag Ref. 91210N-0001|
|Tudor North Flag Red. 91210N-0002|
Both models have the same case size and dial. Inside a 40mm satin brush-finish geometry case is a matte black dial adorned with white bold applied indices, and Arabic Numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock. The date function can be seen at the 3 o’clock mark, while a unique power indicator is shown symmetrically at 9 o’clock. To indicate the minutes, the chapter ring is marked with white and bright yellow sticks. The hands are made instantly discernable to tell the time at first glance. Covered in lume and bright white paint, the hands and hour markers make a striking contrast against the black dial. Powering this watch is a COSC certified in house movements MT5261. Stainless steel and ceramic inlay make up the double bezel.
The only difference between the Tudor North Flag Ref. 91210N-001 and Tudor North Flag Ref. 91210N-002 are their bands: the first is stainless steel, the second is leather. The stainless steel version has a technical look to it intensified by its clean geometry. This model retails at approximately $4,479 USD. The leather version, on the other hand, gives off a sporty feel with its yellow on black design. There is an inner bright yellow lining and bright yellow seams accenting the black leather. You can get this Tudor North Flag watch at a price of $4,329 USD.
The market for the Tudor North Flag has skyrocketed for two probable reasons. Since it is the first-ever Tudor watch with a COSC certified in-house movement, it also means that the demand and value of these watches could increase in the future. The demand though has doubled, after many watch aficionados learned that this particular model has been discontinued since the early months of 2020. As all vintage watches go, when they become more difficult to get, the price automatically goes up. Combine that with suspended supply, investing in such luxury watches ensures a worthwhile investment in which the price could quadruple in the next ten years.
It is impossible to talk about Tudor’s history without mentioning Rolex. After all, being founded by the same person, Hans Wilsdorf, Tudor and Rolex run parallel with each other, one being higher-priced than most luxury watch brands, the other a poor man’s version of the latter. Quite often, we would see Tudor models making reference to some Rolex watches as a result. And so releasing the North Flag with designs that pull away from Rolex watchmaking codes is a bold move. And this calculated move is part of the founder’s goal to separate Tudor as an individual brand.
Though Tudor has been making fine watches for decades, it left the US market in 1996 only to come back in 2013 with the powerful Tudor Heritage Chrono watch, and later in 2015 with the Tudor North Flag. Named after the British North Greenland Expedition, the North Flag has similarities with the 1950’s Oyster Prince expedition watch, as well as its predecessor, the rare Tudor Ranger II from the 1970s. In interesting ways, it makes subtle nods to these watches especially in the dial design, but at the same time builds history on its own.
While the dial is almost similar to the Tudor Ranger II with the arabic numerals and hour markers, you’d see how it differs with the power reserve indicator to replace the 9 o’clock. Integrated on the dial, an arrow on a black disk, points to a bright yellow scale to indicate how much power is left. This adds symmetry to the date function on the other side at 3 o’clock which is again a nod to the Tudor Ranger II but dropping the cyclops in its version. The North Flag borrows the bright-colored hands from Ranger II but makes it a bit longer and slimmer.
The Caliber MT5621 is a magnificently built for performance next-generation movement. Though with minimal finishing, the watch gives us a peek through the transparent case back of its movement. The balance wheel straddled as it swung on the bridge, the silicon balance spring making the movement automatic and especially accurate, with its superb ball bearings facilitating all these motions. Instantly, we know that the movement is of stripped down functionality, showing us only the most essential, without all the additional trappings — almost as if we’re looking at an engine and nothing more.
From ultra high contrast hands, matte dial, excess lume, and frameless date, the Tudor North Flag is everything you need in a tool watch and so much more. It is a chronometer certified watch. The Caliber that it is equipped with is powerful on its own and even added with spring balance to keep it in place. Definitely more than what you can get in most dive watches, it has a 70 power reserve.
Paramount to these functionalities, the North Flag is as exciting from a design standpoint. It has got a bold character with the technical and modern design blending efficiently with retro elements. Above all, if you can’t get your hands on a Rolex, this one is the next big thing, possibly even more powerful than the most recognizable watch brand.
The brand overall carries a competitive collection of fine watches made of quality craftsmanship at a more affordable price. Lastly, the fact that this collection has been discontinued by Tudor, is all the more reason to get your hands on what will predictably turn out to be a rare vintage limited edition watch in the future.
The Tudor North Flag quite gracefully connects with the brand’s history by alluding to details of vintages before it, but also stands on its own merits by hinting on almost indiscernible details. The North Flag, with its spearhead technology, is almost like a 1970’s watch inspired by the present, rather than the other way around.