Snowflake: Tudor Submariner Icon

The Snowflake was the catalyst that sparked off this long and endearing journey in the world of vintage Rolex and Tudor. Under the creativity of the Rolex SA house of innovation lies the heart of the Tudor brand, with progressive designed icons  such as the Tudor 2-register Chronograph ref. 7031 and 7032. High contrasting colours of bright orange on a clouded-skies grey base just works magic on those Monte Carlos.  From Tudor's watch benches, the really "subconic" and well-sought after diving watch is the Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" line and its distinctive features are as follows:

1) 40mm stainless steel case

2) square-box shaped minute indicator indices

3) diamond-shaped second hand

4) very unique hour-hand shape with 2 sided protruding angulars

(1968 Tudor Submariner Ref. 7021 & 1978 Tudor Submariner Ref. 94010 – Photo: Alan Koh)

Back in 2008, Tudor "Snowflake" Submariners were going on the market for an average price range of USD $ 2000-3300. Fast forward to 2011, a mint condition will cost in the range of USD $ 4000 – 5000. These figures are for the regular production Tudor submariners, and not the M.N. (military issued). M.N. Snowflakes commands a higher price, almost always close to twice the price of a regular Snowflake. 

There are several older Snowflakes, especially those manufactured from 1968 onwards that have very "uneven and grainy" surfaces. Such phenomenon are very common on Tudor Snowflakes, just as how some Tudor Submariner Ref. 7928 dials turned tropical-brown. I have heard of several descriptions, and one interesting coined term for such "popped out, crater" dials is the "Fuji dial". 

Below are some detailed information from Tudorcollector.com:

Tudor Submariner Reference 7016/0 & 7021/0

(Tudor Submariner Ref. 7016/0 – Photo: Jonathan Wong)

It has been discussed for years why the Reference 7016 & 7021 Submariners were introduced. First seen around 1968 (verfiable) they feature a long list of changes compared to the Reference 7928. First of all there are two of them. The 7016 features a non-date layout while the 7021 features a layout with a Date mechanism. If we look at the Rolex world, this co-incides with the realease of the 1680 – the Rolex Submariner with a date. So, this "explains" why the 7021 was introduced. By why add the 7016 ?

The reason is most likely movements. The 7928 featured the cal. 390 automatic movement, bought from Fleurier (FEF). During the 60's almost all Tudor models disbanded the various movement manufactureres and went pure ETA. (Exception of course being the Tudor Advisor with the proprietary alarm clock movement). The Cal 390. was first seen in early Tudor automatics (most famous the Tudor Oyster 34) from 1951-52 – so realistically the movement has seen at least 16 years of service. And the base is even older. The combination of a pure ETA movement strategy (well, untill the Chronos were introduced 2 years later) and the fact that training and mechanical service would be much easier when the date and non-date Submariners used the same base – resulted in the death of the 7928.

To add to the complexity – both versions came with the choice of dial color. Either blue or black. Case dimensions and overall design was more or less identical to the 7928. Interestingly enough, the very first 7016 featured the same dial layout as the 7928. (Rose dial with the 4 lines on the bottom half of the dial). These (in the examples I have seen) feature a semi-pointed crownguard case. And most likely not produced for very long. Subsequently the dial layout changed to the classic "Snowflake" design with square markers and square hands.

( Tudor Submariner Ref. 7021/0 – Photo: Alan Koh)

It has not been possible to determine exactly for how long the "transitional" 7016 was produced. But the versions we have seen are all 68-69 dated casebacks. As many collectors certainly have experienced, there was a issue with the 7016 and 7021. The paint/laquer used on the dials – on the early versions – decayed at a rapid rate. In general Tudor dials are often quite bad – usually due to water ingress or bad maintenance. (They were often not "babied" as their Rolex sisters). However the decay of the 7016 & 7021 dials was extreme. The dial rot often showed itself as bubbles under the surface, starting around the centre of the dial. It's quite easy to see the difference between dial rot and water ingress. The tritium markers themselves are often quite nice on rotted dials – as its only the lacquer that disintegrates.

(Tudor Submariner Ref. 7021 – Photo: Alan Koh)

In the past, collectors have speculated that the black dial versions were "disbanded" and the blue color versions were introduced instead, as they had better dials. This is incorrect. We have seen 7021's as early as mid 1968 with pale blue dials, with classic dial rot and a nice roulette style date wheel. 100% original, 1 owner piece. So, more than likely, the black and blue dials co-existed – and were both prone to rot.

Technically the 7016 features a ETA Cal. 2483. It's a 25 jewel movement (as opposed to the 17j cal. 390 in the older Reference 7928). In the Tudor / Rolex technical service manuals it is designated as 2461-2483. In the past this covers an internal and an external reference number.

The 7021 features the cal. 2484. Main difference is of course the date feature.

It should be noted that in Rolex documentation the references are other denoted as 7016 or 7016/0 – and 7021 or 7021/0. The addition of the /0 was a common reference changed, started by Rolex and Tudor in the middle of the 60's. However, there seems to be no system as to when the different references changed from the classic 4 digits to the 4+/0 digit system. The /0 of course describes the case material as stainless steel (as it does in Rolex models). In my experience all 7016 and 21 series watches have the /0. If anyone has seen one without the /, please email me a scan. 🙂

The 7016 and 7021 ended production circa 1975 when the 9401 and 9411 models were introduced in their place. In our findings it seems that the serial # range for these watches are:

620.000 serial till 780.000 serial. (1968-1975).

* Should be noted that Military issued MN 7016's have been seen with serials up in the 820.000' range. Which is nearly a year later than 9401/11 introduction. Most likely due to either Rolex selling old cases off to DOD customers, or more likely a specific order from the MN, requesting 7016.

We are still working on figuring out which Rolex dial produceres were making the dials for the 70xx series Submariners. We have seen dial rot in models up to and including 1975. Since 7016 and 7021's with GOOD dials have been spotted in the collectors community, it would indicate that they are either service dials, or that some of the dials produced in the 7 year window, actually did not develop dial rot. More details about this at a later point.

(Tudor Submariner Ref. 94010 – Photo: Tim McClure)

Tudor Submariner Reference 9401/0 & 9411/0

The next generation of Submariners, following the 7016/7021 are the 9401/0 and 9411/0. These watches feature an option of blue or black dials. They exist in various variations.

9401/0 – Produced circa. 1975-76. Non-Date. Blue or black dial with "snowflake" markers and hands.
9411/0 – Produced circa. 1975-76. Date. Blue or black dial with "snowflake" markers and hands.
94010 – Produced circa. 1976-83. Till circa 1980 (the introduction of 5 digit serials, reverted) had the "Snowflake" design. From circa. 1980-83 – Triangle markered dials.
94110 – Produced circa. 1976-83. Till circa 1980 (the introduction of 5 digit serials, reverted) had the "Snowflake" design. From circa. 1980-83 – Triangle markered dials.

For more references on Tudor models, please visit TudorCollector.com 

Original Post can be accessed HERE.

 

(Photo: David aka Frogman4me)

Tudor and the French Navy: a love story? 

by Saad Zinai

Rolex did not have the same commercial success with the Tudor Submariner as with its parents, the Rolex 5512 and 5513 Submariners. Tudors were sold at a fraction of the 5513 price and so it was not difficult for the French Navy (La Marine Nationale) to negotiate a good deal for significant number of pieces.

Unlike contracts for the U.S. and British Royal Navy, which specified all the characteristics of timepieces from size to materials, the French government contracts were purely commercial contracts. Therefore, the Marine Nationale (or M.N.) provided its divers with many different watches including Zenith, Doxa, Longines, Rolex, Blancpain, Beuchat, Auricoste and many others. But that's another story.

Early on, the French Navy equipped its divers (plongeurs de bord) with Tudor Submariners. The first Tudors were purchased by the M.N. in the late 60's. This model seemed to meet army specifications for Commando Marines. It was then the classic "rose" model, (see right) featuring case reference 7928 and the Rolex-derived 390 movement. Curiously, this model had the same sharp crown shoulders as the first Rolex 5512. The back is prominent and flat (unlike the bubble-back-like of that of further models). These models do not hack, but backwards action will stop the movement. 

Unfortunately, Rolex kept no manufacturing records for these watches, and therefore, it remains difficult to date them accurately. A good indication is the date marked inside the back (something like I-67, for first quarter 1967, according to Rolex) 

Ironically, the same model was issued by the U.S. Navy to their UDT and Navy SEALS (see Marvin Whitney's Military Timepieces for more details). Like their american cousins, the M.N. Tudors were always issued "head only." The absence of any sign of wear between lugs that a metal bracelet might have produced is a good clue for purists. 

In 1974, the M.N. started to extensively equip their commando marines with Tudor submariners. From this point, most of the watches (except a few, for some "sterile" reasons) are marked on the back MN 19xx or MNxx. This date -1974- is very important from a collector's point of view. This transitional model (case reference 7016/0) always has a black dial and "square" or "diamond hands" (see below) The case back is slightly different from subsequent models in that it retains somewhat of a "bubble back" look. The movement is now an ETA 2483, non-hack, no longer found on the earlier models. Of course, the rose is no longer the Tudor emblem, replaced in the late 60's by the current shield. 

The poor quality of the dial coating and its vulnerability to moisture led Rolex to propose another dial. Starting in 1975 dials with a blue finish were introduced which had much better tolerability to water. These dials had square then "Mercedes" style markers and hands (see images to the right.) These blue dials proved to be an excellent choice in that the dials were coated with an enameled material which prevents ageing. I have seen (and own) many mercedes-ed Tudors, with ruined cases, faded bezels, brownish hands. The dial was always intact ! The case reference is now 9401/0 or 94010, and the movement is the current ETA. 

I don't know of any model issued after 1983. Most of The Tudor submariners were auctioned by the army, according to their date of end of service. Some of them are being (as I type this…) destroyed manually by some troopers in Toulon or Brest…I have tried to save some and share with you this piece of the French Naval history. 

Original Post HERE

(Photo: Alan Koh)

(Photo: Jonathan Wong)

 

Tudor Submariner Ref. 7016/0

Case Diameter: 39.5 mm
Case Height: 14 mm
Case length: 46.5 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Movement: ETA 2483 25 jewel 
non-hacking automatic. 18,000 bph, 42 
hour power reserve
Case material: Stainless steel
Crown: Rolex "Twinlock" screw down
Bezel: Bi-directional, no click
Water resistance: 200 meters

Tudor Submariner Ref. 9411/0

Case Diameter: 39.5 mm
Case Height: 13.5 mm
Case length: 47.5 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Movement: ETA 2784 17 jewel 
non-hacking automatic. Quick-set date, 
28,800 bph, 42 hour power reserve
Case material: Stainless steel
Crown: Rolex "Triplock" screw down
Bezel: Bi-directional, no click
Water resistance: 200 meters

Source: http://www.scubawatch.org/tudorsub7016.html

 

 

2 Comments
  • HORNBLOWER
    Posted at 18:01h, 11 September

    94110 series also came with a 2783 calibre movement.

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