The Submariner is one of Tudor's most popular vintage watches. Rare, early models and models used by the military are especially sought after. However, newer versions are also experiencing a notable increase in value.
The Oyster Prince Submariner was the first professional diving watch from Swiss manufacturer Tudor. Tudor, which was founded by Rolex father Hans Wilsdorf, released the model with the reference number 7922 all the way back in 1954. This was shortly after the launch of the Rolex Submariner, which was one of the world's first diving watches. With the Tudor Submariner, Wilsdorf was able to achieve his goal of creating a professional yet affordable diving watch. The Genevan manufacturer produced the watch until 1999, which is why vintage watches are currently the only ones available. Models in mint condition are in high demand, but are extremely rare. This is also true of first-generation models from the 1950s and 1960s. The version with the reference number 7923 with its extremely unique and rare manual-winding caliber 1182 sold in an online auction for 99,999 USD, making it one of the most expensive Tudor watches of all time.
Tudor released three generations of the Submariner in its 45-years of production. Models with reference numbers from the first generation are in the highest demand due to their age (1954-1968). The military watches used by the American and French naval forces are also highly-coveted vintage watches. The second generation of timepieces was produced between 1969 and 1989. Some of the most interesting watches have the following reference numbers: 7016, 7021, 9401, 9411, and 76100. The third and final generation was introduced in 1989, and is composed of the reference numbers 79090 and 79190. Since there are quite a few of these comparably young diving watches still floating around, they remain affordable. However, the Tudor brand has a growing fan base, which has caused prices to skyrocket in the last 20 years.
|Reference number||Price (approx.)||Generation|
|9401 M.N||20,000 euros||2nd|
A pre-owned Tudor Submariner with the reference number 79190 from the 1990s costs around 4,800 euros, making it one of the most affordable watches in this series. However, the price for this model has doubled in the last five years and will likely continue to increase. The somewhat older ref. 79090 is a bit more affordable at around 4,400 euros. Its price has also increased consistently in recent years.
The reference number 76100 from the second generation demands a relatively modest 4,200 euros. Plan to spend 6,800 euros for a ref. 9411 from the 70s and 80s. The Tudor Submariner ref. 9401 also originated in this time period and costs more than 8,000 euros. The first two models from the second generation have the reference numbers 7016 and 7021. The latter has a date display with the characteristic Cyclops lens that is also found on many Rolex watches. The version with a date display costs around 7,500 euros, while the version without a date comes in at about 6,500 euros. Both of these reference numbers have more than doubled in value in the last five years. However, they are still affordable for vintage watches.
The rarest and therefore most expensive watches are the early models of the first generation from the 1950s and 1960s. The reference numbers 7922, 7923, and 7924 are so rare that only the luckiest buyer ever comes across one. Watches with the reference number 7928 from 1959 are somewhat easier to find and currently cost about 7,000 euros. This model was used by the US Navy. Unlike the civilian versions, the military design has an engraving on the case back indicating that it was made for a member of the armed forces. The French navy – Marine nationale Française – also used the Tudor Submariner. A timepiece with the reference number 9401 and the engraving "M.N." on the case back goes for around 20,000 euros in good condition.
Those who would rather spend less money and don't necessarily need a pre-owned vintage watch should take a closer look at the retro watches from the Black Bay collection. These modern diving watches come with an in-house movement and are reminiscent of early Submariner models due to their domed sapphire glass, snowflake hands, and large crown without a guard. You can get a mint-condition Black Bay with the reference number 79230N, a black bezel, and an in-house caliber for around 2,600 euros.
As their first ever diving watch, Tudor entered unfamiliar waters with the introduction of the Submariner ref. 7922 in 1954. Like the Rolex Submariner, the Tudor watch had a screw-down crown, a screw-down case back, large bright hands and indices, and a rotatable bezel for monitoring dive times. The case of this early diving watch was water resistant to 100 m (10 bar) and had a crown on the right side with no guard. The black dial was slightly domed, and the gold-colored script stood out beautifully against the black background. Its Fleurier-based automatic caliber 390 had a balance frequency of 18,000 half oscillations per hour (A/h). Additional characteristics of this early Tudor Submariner include its crown and Oyster band, both of which feature the Rolex logo.
One year later Tudor presented the reference number 7923. This watch was only produced in limited numbers and was the only Tudor Submariner model ever to be outfitted with a manual winding movement. The caliber 1182 was responsible for the notably flatter case and the new inscription on the dial: The words "ROTOR" and "SELF-WINDING" were missing, leaving only "SUBMARINER" and "SHOCK-RESISTING". The text indicating the water resistance was also removed, and the typical Rolex Mercedes hands were replaced by baton hands.
The Tudor Submariner ref. 7924 introduced in 1958 is known to enthusiasts by the nickname "Big Crown" because of its 8-mm crown. That, together with an optimized case and durable plexiglass, gave the watch a water resistance of 200 m (20 bar). Similar to ref. 7922, the automatic caliber 390 also powered the 7924. One year later, Tudor launched the reference number 7928, which saw the arrival of the first crown protector in the series. Aficionados can distinguish between the rectangular, so-called "square crown guards" , the tapered "pointed crown guards", and the rounded crown guards, which remained the same through 1999.
The year 1969 marked the beginning of the second generation of Tudor Submariners. The most important changes were the rectangular hour markers and the hands, which are known as "snowflakes" and can also be found on modern watches in the Black Bay collection. Smaller case sizes started becoming available in the mid-1970s and came to be known as "Midsize Subs" or "Mini Subs". Tudor released more than 20 different versions of the Submariner between 1969 and 1999, including ones with blue dials. The first two reference numbers of the second generation were the 7016 and the 70211. The latter was outfitted with a date display and Cyclops lends. In terms of movements, Tudor chose the ETA 2484 for models with date displays and the ETA caliber 2483 for those without.
The final Tudor Submariner reference numbers were the 79090 and the 79190 and are considered the third generation. The ref. 79090 came to market in 1989 and supplanted the models without a date display. This new Submariner came with a black or blue dial and a matching bezel. It also marked the return of the Mercedes hands. The indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock were triangular while the others were circular. The 39-mm case remained water resistant to 200 m (20 bar) and contained the ETA caliber 2824-2. The year 1995 saw the release of the final Tudor Submariner with reference number 79190. A notable, new component of this model was its sapphire glass with a Cyclops lens, which was much more scratch-resistant than the plexiglass found in previous models.