Established in 1926 by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, Tudor was created as a more affordable yet still thoroughly premium sister company to “the Crown.” Though it wasn’t released until nearly four decades after the company was founded, the Ranger’s history and connection to the Tudor brand actually dates back much further than most realize, with Wilsdorf originally registering the Ranger name back in 1929 — only a few years after Tudor’s inception and some 39 years before entering production in 1965.
Despite previously being pulled from production at numerous points, Tudor opted to celebrate the famed field watch’s 70th anniversary via the release of a new modern reissue. With so much about the timepiece having changed since its original debut in ’65, we were genuinely eager to discover how the the watch stacks up today, how it performs, how it looks and feels on the wrist, and whether it retains the character, charm, and qualities that made the original Ranger so popular in the first place — questions we’ll be answering in this hands-on review of the Tudor Ranger field watch.
At A Glance
Tudor Ranger Specs
Case Size: 39mm
Lug to Lug: 48mm
Case Thickness: 12mm
Lug Width: 20mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 100m
Movement Type: Mechanical
Power Reserve: 70 Hours
Movement: Tudor Calibre MT5402
Crystal: Domed Sapphire
Strap: Three-Link Stainless Steel Bracelet
A Torture-Tested Timepiece
The History Of Tudor’s Oyster Prince & Ranger Watches
In 1952, a group comprised of a combination of British enlisted military and civilian scientists embarked on a daring two-year journey to explore and gather scientific research in Greenland. Known as the British North Greenland Expedition, the endeavor saw all 25 crew members outfitted with a wide variety of then-cutting-edge equipment and gear, including several Tudor prototypes known as the Oyster Prince watch. In addition to their standard observations and studies, these scientists were also tasked with gathering intel and data on how the timepieces performed amidst Greenland’s unforgiving and otherworldly conditions — and moreover, whether they even survived.
Approximately a decade after proving that it could withstand some of the most hostile environments on the planet, the Oyster Prince would be used as the basis for what would ultimately become the Tudor Ranger production watch in 1965. Utilizing a Rolex Oyster case, crown, and bracelet and an off-the-shelf ETA movement, the original Ranger — a more affordable alternative to the Rolex Explorer — would quickly become a horological icon, as well as one of the more popular tool watches on the market. So, while Tudor would eventually pull the plug on the Ranger, the watch’s legendary status would result in the Swiss outfit releasing modern-day reissues, most recently in 2014 and then again last year in 2022 — the latter of which was chosen due to it marking the Ranger’s 70th anniversary.
Getting Hands-On With The Latest Tudor Ranger
Right out of the box, the Tudor Ranger’s vintage-inspired design and top-notch fit and finish both immediately jump out at you. Compared to the 2014 revamp, the most recent iteration of the Tudor Ranger stays markedly more true to the ‘60s era original, boasting a smaller case, a less cluttered, more minimalistic dial, and a streamlined case profile. Despite its reduced dimensions, the watch also achieves a tougher look compared to its predecessor, as well a bit more form-fitting, and just generally cleaner all around. It also appears that Tudor likely listened to feedback from the public in order to deliver on some much-needed updates and improvements such as an upgraded clasp from some of Tudor’s more high-end horological ranges.
The 2022 Tudor Ranger does a superb job of modernizing the watch while still honoring the paying homage to the 1965 original. This includes everything from a familiar-looking case design and a remarkably similar 3-6-9-12 dial and arrow-shaped hand-set. With that said, this 21st-century take on an expedition watch also manages to add a modern yet subtle dash of color in the form of a red-tipped seconds hand, as well as sharper lines and a noticeably updated bracelet design. With its fairly rugged construction, coupled with a brushed finish, decent lume, 39mm case size, and 100 meters of water resistance, the Ranger also makes for a pretty terrific GADA watch.
Making A Solid Case
The Tudor Ranger’s Case & Housing
A continued evolution of Tudor’s Heritage Ranger model from 2014, the latest Ranger no longer utilizes a Rolex-made case, though its design still looks incredibly similar to that of Rolex’s modern Explorer timepiece — albeit in a slightly larger 39mm size (versus the Explorer’s 36mm width). What’s more, the Ranger’s finish deviates from that of the Explorer with a multi-directional brushed finish adorning nearly every visible surface of the watch save for a high-polished portion at the base of the case’s thin sloping bezel. Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case sports a fixed bezel, a dome sapphire crystal, chamfered edges, a screw-down case-back, and a Tudor-logoed, knurled screen-down crown that’s mated to a protruding crown tube — not unlike iconic Tudor’s Black Bay 36 watch. Equipped with a 48mm lug-to-lug, a thickness of 12mm, and a lug width of 20mm, the Ranger also utilizes the same 39mm case width dimension as its ultra-popular Black Bay 58 — a perfect, middle-of-the-road case size, especially for everyday wear field watches.
And, while it may lack some of the top-shelf flavor of a Swiss watch with more perfect mirror-polished surfaces, the Ranger’s more-than-predominant multi-directional brushed finish looks stunning in its own right, with an aesthetic look first appears matte in dark settings only to have light reflect and dance across it with the movement of the wearer’s wrist. More importantly, not only are we extremely partial to how the brushed finish looks, but we also thoroughly appreciate how the multi-directional brushing helps to conceal minor scratches and scuffs that would stand out on a polished finish like a sore thumb — a factor that makes an already fantastic everyday watch that much more impressive. The use of a screw-down crown and case-back also help the Ranger to achieve a modest 100 meters (330’) of water resistance.
The Tudor Ranger’s Spartan Dial
A beautiful display of less is more design language, the dial manages to take inspiration from the Rolex Explorer while still putting its own unique spin on the style and layout. The 3-6-9-12 dial, long vertical hour indices, and smaller second marks are borrowed from the Rolex, though the Tudor seperates itself using arrow-shaped hands, a red-tipped seconds hand, and bold cardinal Arabic numerals. The 2mm case reduction compared to 2014’s Ranger Heritage have also resulted in an overall tighter dial composition as well.
Contrasting the case’s brushed finish are polished inset hour and minute hands that sit above a matte black dial. Light green-glowing grade-A Super-LumiNova has also been applied to the 3, 6, 9, and 12, hour and minute hands, and indices at every hour. We did happen to notice that the color of the lume appears to ever-so-slightly carry between the indices and hands. Some of the tex has also been reworked, with the iconic shield logo now taking the place of the Tudor Rose above the “Tudor Geneve” text just below 12 o’clock – not unlike the Oyster Prince (Date) Ranger. Additionally, the word “RANGER” now replaces the “ROTOR SELF WINDING” text just above 6 o’clock – another nod to the 1965 original.
A Three-Link Classic
The Tudor Ranger’s Timeless Steel Bracelet
Paired with the Tudor Ranger’s 39mm case is a handsome three-link bracelet. Made from stainless steel, the bracelet sports a brushed finish that, unlike the case’s multi-directional motif, utilizes a vertical brushed pattern. The use of links with rounded edges not only hugely mitigates any pinching, but it also allows the bracelet to be nearly silent when its wearer moves their wrist. Above and beyond how surprisingly comfortable the bracelet feels — even when worn all day — our favorite aspect of it was almost certainly its adoption of a micro-adjustable T-fit clasp that allows its wearer to make minor tweaks to the bracelet’s size to compensate for the small variation in wrist size that occurs throughout the day. Lastly, the 2022 Ranger’s bracelet features integrated end links that enable it to seamlessly connect to the case while being devoid of any gaps or spaces.
And, while we happened to test out the steel bracelet-equipped variant of the $3,150 Tudor Ranger (Reference M79950-0001), the watch is available in more affordable versions that come fitted with fabric or hybrid rubber and leather straps starting from $2,825. It’s also worth noting that the Ranger’s price includes a transferable five-year warranty.
The Tudor Ranger’s Mechanical Movement
At the heart of the Tudor Ranger is a Manufacture Calibre MT5402 movement — an in-house self-winding mechanical item that uses a bidirectional rotor system to keep it up to speed. This ultimately allows for a generous 70-hour power reserve — a figure shared by the Explorer, while the Ranger costs around one-third of what the Rolex does. Benefitting from research and development that’s trickled down from Tudor’s more premium sister brand, the Ranger’s movement boasts COSC certification. It’s also worth pointing out that in 2014, Tudor opted to outfit its Heritage Ranger with its own modified take on the ETA 2824 movement, so the fact the latest Ranger is now kept ticking via its own completely in-house developed motor is very much of note.
A Modern Reissue, Done Right
Our Final Thoughts On The Tudor Ranger Field Watch
More than just a style piece or fashion accessory, the Ranger is a bonafide, proper tool watch. Over the period we spent wearing and testing the watch, it became increasingly clear just how wildly conducive the Tudor Ranger is to everyday wear use, with the M79950-0001 reference growing into our of our favorite GADA options. More noteworthy is the fact that the latest Ranger just happens to be one of the most versatile watches we’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. What’s more, the Swiss-made field watch boasts an unparalleled ability to be dressed up or dressed down, and the 20mm lug width make finding straps, bracelets, and bands from both Tudor and third-party manufacturers an absolute breeze.
All in all, the Tudor Ranger is a fantastic looking field watch that readily announces itself as being of the premium variety. With that said, it lacks the same level of ultra-high-end fit and finish that’s present on other Tudor watch’s like its Black Bay range — though this is reflected in the watches’ respective MSRPs. And, while it doesn’t impact the performance or utility of the watch, we thoroughly appreciate wearing a timepiece with such a rich linage, history, and origin story.