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The New Tudor Ranger Is 70 Years In The Making, Inspired By The British North Greenland Expedition

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Back to its roots, the new Tudor Ranger is a no-nonsense tool watch that just works.

When Hans Wilsdorf registered the trade mark for Tudor, he did so with a singular goal in mind, which was to create functional and reliable watches at an affordable price. They were so dedicated to this founding philosophy that when they launched their very first self-winding watch in 1952 – the Oyster Prince – they sent a bunch of these watches along with the British North Greenland Expedition to demonstrate the watches could handle the harsh realities of the Arctic Circle. And interestingly enough, this is also where the story of the new Tudor Ranger begins.

Out In the Cold

The British North Greenland Expedition was a scientific mission to carry out studies in glaciology, meteorology, geology and physiology. In July 1952, led by Commander James Simpson, a crew of 25 men set sail from Deptford, an area on the south bank of the River Thames in London, England. From there they sailed to the north-east coast of Greenland and were air-lifted to Britannia Lake in Queen Louise Land where they set up base camp. Then, Commander Simpson along with a small party travelled by dog sledges a further 370 km to the west to establish the North Ice station. And throughout his journey, he reportedly had a Tudor Oyster Prince strapped firmly onto his wrist.

Understanding the power of a proven track record in terms of marketing, Tudor decided they would equip the 25-man crew of the expedition with their new self-winding Oyster Prince watches. Tudor requested that these men record and monitor the variations in precision throughout the expedition recording them in special notebooks and comparing them against the hourly timekeeping signals emitted by the BBC.

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A letter that one of the expedition members sent Tudor is still kept in the brand archives until today.

Tudor also wasted no time in incorporating their first long-term tests, under real-world extreme conditions into their marketing strategy. In one of their ads, they note that the watches will have to withstand “temperatures of 90 degrees below zero; climb 9,000 feet in the rarefied atmosphere; suffer 100 miles an hour blizzards; live underground in tunnels of snow.” It is safe to say that the watches performed admirably in these trials as one expedition member even wrote Tudor upon his return stating that his watch “maintained remarkable precision” and that “at no time did it need to be rewound by hand”.

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An advertising sample from 1952.

Ranger Then and Now

There are archival documents to show that the Ranger name was already registered by the founder as early as 1929. However, the aesthetics of the Ranger we recognise today didn’t appear until the 1960s. It was only in 1965 that the first Ranger watches with the arrow hour hand and the 3-6-9 numerals were launched. Then, in 1969 a second version was introduced to the collection, offering a date function to this tool watch.

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The Ranger collection of the 1960s was simply a no-nonsense tool watch that prioritised legibility with its obvious hour hands and contrasting numerals and reliability with its tried and tested Oyster style case. With these two models, it is easy to see how the spirit of the Oyster Princes that accompanied the British North Greenland Expedition had been transferred onto the Ranger collection. It is almost as if it was a spiritual successor to this expedition watch.

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The Tudor Ranger for 1965 beside the new 2022 Ranger.

In 1973 the Ranger was updated with a more modern styling becoming the Ranger II. And then in 2015, Tudor unveiled the North Flag collection, heavily referencing the North Ice station of the expedition and it came with the same design cues as the Ranger II.

A New Journey

Now, 70 years after the British North Greenland Expedition first left the banks of the River Thames, the Ranger has once again been revived. The new Tudor Ranger collection harks back to the design of the 1960s, once again emphasizing its functionality.

The new Tudor Ranger is crafted in a svelte 39mm case. It is just large enough for the wearer to get a glimpse of the time without being too ostentatious on the wrist. And in combination with the contrasting dial of matte black and beige numerals, its legibility is superb. This compact form also makes the watch sit very snugly when worn, in keeping with its ethos as a tool watch rather than an accessory.

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To further improve its functionality, the Ranger has been equipped with the Manufacture Calibre MT5402 movement that is Chronometer certified by the COSC. However, instead of the COSC criteria of –4 to +6 seconds variation, Tudor imposed a stricter set of tolerances for their testing and insisted each Ranger be between only –2 to +4 seconds variation per day. Additionally, the movement offers a 70-hour power reserve making it weekend-proof. This means that if you take off your watch on a Friday evening and set it down, It will still be keeping accurate time come Monday morning and ready to be wound by the rotor when you put it on your wrist.

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Tudor offers the Ranger in three strap options. The most Ranger-esque is the stainless steel bracelet. The new bracelet has been machined to modern Tudor standards and it is fitted with a “T-fit” clasp that offers a rapid adjustment system. The other strap options include a supple fabric strap that was woven on 19th-century Jacquard looms by the Julien Faure company in the St-Étienne region of France, and a sporty natural rubber and fabric-like textured black leather strap.

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Discover the Tudor collection online or visit our boutiques at your nearest location.