Up Close: Tudor Royal Day-Date

A good watch with potential for greatness.

Unveiled quietly in July and destined only for a handful of Asian markets to start with – and then worldwide from November 2020 – the Tudor Royal is a lightly retro wristwatch with an integrated bracelet, almost a luxury-sports watch, but for decidedly entry-level money.

Like many of Tudor’s more affordable watches, the Royal Day-Date is powered by a Sellita movement, as opposed to the in-house movements found in the upper-end models. But the Royal still boasts the brand’s typically excellent quality, especially of the case and bracelet. The design of the Royal, however, is a mixed bag.

Initial thoughts

The Royal is good enough that I hope it will be gently tweaked, which would make it outstanding; it could be so much better. In fact, the Royal is Tudor’s most paradoxical watch. The quality and wearability are good, some details are great, but the bezel and dial are both old fashioned and dull.

Nevertheless, the Royal is, like nearly all Tudor watches, excellent value for money. Priced at about US$2,400, the Royal has an Oyster case that’s excellent in both construction, finish, and design. And it provides another alternative for those who want a solid Tudor watch that doesn’t look like a sports watch.

The wide, flat face where it meets the bracelet is perhaps its most attractive feature

The bracelet is a simple but robust construction that integrates well into the case

And the watch wears well. Although the Day Date is wide at 41 mm (there are several smaller versions), it is relatively flat at a bit under 11 mm in height, so it sits low on the wrist for a large watch.

Inside is the T603 movement, which is Sellita SW240. That, in turn is a clone of the ETA 2824 with the additional day and date function. It’s a low cost but exceptionally robust movement, and entirely appropriate for a watch of this price.

The only downside of the movement is its short, 38-hour power reserve. That’s not a shortcoming if the watch is worn daily, but it is if the watch is worn periodically since it will stop after slightly over a day and a half.

Royal is a revived model name, perhaps explaining the 1970s inclination in the design. Most of it is good, save for two elements of the watch that can, and should, be improved.

The bezel is an alternating, smooth-and-fluted affair that’s been done before by Tudor – with little success – but here it is again. A smooth bezel would transform the look of the watch for the better by a long, long way.

The other is the dial, which is also dated. Functionality is good; the wide Romans and railway minute track are highly legible, but the look is uninspiring. A “California” dial, on the other hand, would be perfect.

The Royal is available in a variety of iterations, but the all-steel versions are the best looking. The combination of steel and gold on the two-tone versions isn’t flattering as it makes the watch looks even more dated.

Integrated Oyster

The case is an Oyster, but reinterpreted with 1970s flair, hence the angular edges and integrated bracelet. Quality is excellent, and the case beats the competition in the same price range hands down.

It’s available in four sizes – 41, 38, 34, and 28 mm – but only the largest 41 mm case is available with a day-date movement.

The 41 mm Royal is a big watch, but not as large as it seems. For one, since the bracelet is integrated, the lugs are nonexistent, giving the case a smaller footprint. And the case is also notably slim, measuring 10.6 mm high, in part due to the case back being nearly level – the Oyster back is almost flush with the case – allowing it to sit flat on the wrist.

The case middle is thin, which helps reduce its perceived height

Both the bezel and case back are screw down – the rim of the back is finely fluted for that purpose – but the case middle is slim with well-defined lines. Though the form of the case is simple, all its lines are neat and sharp. The edge between the top surface and the plane that connects to the bracelet is gently arched but reassuringly precise.

The bezel, despite being unattractive, is well executed – the fluting is stamped, but even and sharp

The fluted edge of the back allows it to be unscrewed with a proprietary tool

The bracelet is slightly old fashioned, but less so than the bezel. Giving the centre links a matte finish, instead of the current polished finish, would improve the look slightly, but not drastically.

But the tangible qualities of the bracelet are apparent. It is sturdy, even the narrow centre links are solid. And it fitted to a single-fold clasp that’s almost identical in function to the clasp found on the Black Bay.

Old-school face

With large Roman numerals and baton hands, the dials errs on the side of caution. It does the job, but is far from interesting. But like the rest of the watch, although the dial is simple, it is well executed, especially for a watch that costs about US$2,400.

Both the windows for the day and date are recessed, framed by tidy, chamfered edges

The metallic-colour finish of the dial is perfectly applied, even on the narrow surfaces of the window frame

The hands are unusually broad and simple in shape, but feature a lengthwise facet, allowing them to catch the light better

All of the printing on the dial is clear and shows no bleeding at the edges

The Roman numerals are secured with adhesive, allowing them to be very thin

Concluding thoughts

The Royal excels in every tangible aspect, particularly in light of what it costs. But it is let down by the bezel and dial design.

It is especially appealing for someone who wants Tudor’s terrific price-quality ratio, but wants a watch that isn’t a dive watch, or an out-and-out sports watch.

As it is, the Royal is a very, very good watch for US$2,400. With a better bezel and dial, it would be a great watch.

Key Facts and Price

Tudor Royal Day-Date
Ref. 28600

Diameter: 41 mm
Thickness: 10.6 mm
Material: Stainless steel, 18k yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: T603 (based on Sellita SW240)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, as well as day and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Integrated metal bracelet

Availability: Now at boutiques and authorised retailers in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Philippines; and available worldwide from November 2020
Price: Starting at CHF2,200 for the all-steel version

For more, visit Tudorwatch.com.

Addition September 25, 2020: Added the fact that the Royal will be available worldwide starting November.

Update November 13, 2020: The movement inside is a T603, which is a Sellita, and not an ETA, calibre.

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