Foreshadowing a return of the famous “Big Block” chronograph from 1976, Tudor has unveiled the Prince Chronograph One for Only Watch 2023. Featuring a striking 18k yellow gold case and matching bracelet, the Prince Chronograph One debuts Tudor’s first-ever in-house chronograph movement, the MT59XX – making it the first and only Tudor watch sold publicly to contain a yet-to-be-released prototype movement.
The Prince Chronograph One is an interesting debut for Tudor in many ways. Not only is it an attractive and well-conceived watch in its own right, it’s likely a sign of things to come, particularly with regards to the all-new in-house movement.
Tudor’s prior Only Watch entries features unusual materials such as ceramic, bronze, and patinated steel; the Prince Chronograph One continues this trend. Tudor doesn’t often make watches in precious metals – the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18k is an exception – leaving that lane open for its sibling Rolex.
The 42 mm case and bracelet of this unique piece are crafted from 18k yellow gold, and the screw-down crown and pushers are particularly faithful to those of the original “Big Block” and its sibling, the Rolex Daytona 6263. And it shows remarkable attention to detail that Tudor opted to produce its adjustable T-Fit clasp in 18k yellow gold for this one-off piece.
The pairing of a yellow gold case with a black dial and bezel is also timely given the surging interest in the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman John Player Special” which offered a similar look. Furthermore, the black lacquered dial has pleasing depth thanks to its recessed gold sub-dials.
Perhaps more important is the fact that Tudor’s previous Only Watch submissions have foreshadowed subsequent series production models. In 2015, the Black Bay One introduced the black and gilt colourway that subsequently found its way into the Black Bay Black, and later the crowd favourite Black Bay Fifty Eight. Similarly, the Black Bay Ceramic One preceded the introduction of the regular production Black Bay Ceramic.
Based on this history, and given the fact that Tudor has introduced the Prince Chronograph One in conjunction with a new in-house chronograph calibre, it’s reasonable to assume that a regular production version of the watch will be introduced in short order. This is important as it will mark a major step forward for Tudor, as the MT59XX will presumably replace the Breitling-derived MT5813, bringing the brand closer to having all of its watches powered by in-house movements.
An in-house chronograph movement
From a technical standpoint, the most significant aspect of the Prince Chronograph One is the new, in-house MT59XX movement. The movement in the Prince Chronograph One is actually a prototype, and carries the serial number “0”.
The original “Big Block” was Tudor’s first automatic chronograph, but it was powered by the Valjoux 7750, so it makes sense to use this design to introduce the brand’s first in-house chronograph movement. Notably, the dial layout of the MT59XX, at least in this prototype form, has the registers at six, nine, and 12, exactly as in the Valjoux 7750.
The only other chronograph in Tudor’s current collection is the Black Bay Chronograph powered by the MT5813, which is based on the Breitling B01. In contrast, the MT59XX is a Tudor construction through a through.
While most of the important specs are identical between the two, the layout and construction are quite different. The MT59XX, for instance, has the column wheel located on the periphery of the movement, instead of closer to the centre.
A history of low estimates
One thing that Tudor’s four previous Only Watch entries have in common is the fact that they have all sold for significant multiples of their high estimates.
In 2015, Black Bay One hammered for CHF375,000 against an estimate of just CHF4,500. Two years later, the Black Bay Bronze One sold for CHF350,000 against a high estimate of CHF5,500. In 2019 it was more of the same, with the Black Bay Ceramic One selling for CHF350,000 against a high estimate of just CHF5,500.
Things got even more out of hand in 2021, when the Black Bay GMT One sold for CHF650,000 Swiss francs, despite a high estimate of CHF8,000.
The Prince Chronograph One carries an estimate of CHF25,000-35,000, which is substantially higher than previous entries, though reasonable given the 18k yellow gold case and bracelet as well as prototype movement. But if history repeats itself, this estimate will prove to be laughably low. In fact, the Prince Chronograph One might be the first Tudor ever to break the million-franc mark at auction.
Conducted by Christie’s, Only Watch 2023 takes place on November 5, 2023 at Palexpo in Geneva.
Key facts and price
Tudor Prince Chronograph One
Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 13.7 mm
Material: 18k yellow gold
Water resistance: 200 m
Movement: MT59XX (prototype)
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours
Strap: 18k three-link yellow gold bracelet with “T-fit” clasp
Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 5, 2023
For more, visit onlywatch.com
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