Stainless-steel sports watches with integrated bracelets are hotter than hell right now – but why has that happened? Clearly the influence of the Patek Philippe Nautilus can’t be understated, nor the rise of sports-luxe as a style trope. But there’s also something about the aesthetic that hits an appealing sweet spot. If you consider yourself elegant, you are unlikely to want to wear a watch absolutely dripping in diamonds. Yet you may justly, nevertheless, wish to wear something with a bit of, well, BDE. All those Gérald Genta-conceived masterpieces – the Nautilus, of course; the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – and their 1970s contemporaries such as the Vacheron Constantin 222 (reimagined for today as the Overseas) radiate swagger while still looking deeply chic.
And that’s why 1:1 new replica Tudor Royal is a scintillating proposition. Released globally in September, it achieves the careful balancing act of nudging close to jewellery while still remaining within the boundaries of suavedom. Rather than depending on gems, the Royal’s dazzle is chiefly accomplished through the interplay of differently finished metals. Most obviously, the bezel alternates between sections of finely packed grooves and sections of high polish. And then there’s the integrated bracelet, which interpolates its satin external and central links with polished intermediate links. The dial amplifies the sense of flourish with a sunray finish, applied Roman numerals, plus the options of a date-day complication, say, or subtle diamond hour markers. All in, the Royal can be had in four different sizes with nine possible dial variants – so you can max out the glitz if you so desire. If you want a Royal that’s as head-turning as possible, a 41mm, gold-dial, gold-bezel, diamond-set version is available. Yet even this, somehow, falls on the right side of restraint.
Perhaps most remarkably of all, the Royal is jaw-droppingly affordable for its class. One way in which perfect fake Tudor has kept the costs down is to use third-party rather than in-house movements. As a consequence, the most sought-after men’s model – the blue Date Day (which immediately sold out) – costs £1,730; the most expensive – a 41mm diamond and gold number – is £3,000. Considered historically, the pricing is apposite. The name Royal was first used by the watchmaker in the 1950s to communicate the fact that while its timepieces were considerably more affordable than its sister brand, Rolex, they were no less exceptional. And that’s an angle that will never go out of fashion.