SOLD – 1990 Tudor Submariner Ref. 79090 Unpolished
Out of stock
This Tudor Submariner may not be the rarest of models, but it is a watch in high demand and rare to find in the condition that collectors crave – a vintage tool watch that remains unpolished and overall in excellent original condition. The original matte black dial and “Mercedes” hands are in excellent condition with matching original tritium luminous showing a nice patina. Furthermore, it features a plexiglass crystal and the original black aluminium bezel insert has a beautifully aged pip at 12 o’clock. The watch is fitted to its original Tudor Oyster Submariner bracelet ref. 9315 with flip-lock clasp, divers extension, 380B end links and ‘O9’ clasp code; dating to 1990, in line with the year of production for this watch.
An excellent example of the Tudor Submariner, this ref. 79090 is a sleek, rugged and iconic timepiece that offers universal wearability thanks to its black monochromatic design and comfortable 40mm case size.
Tudor’s Origin Story
Founded in 1926, Tudor began life as a passion project of Hans Wilsdorf, one of the co-founders of Rolex. While Rolex had begun to grow in desirability, prestige and price, it began to bother Wilsdorf that his watches were becoming inaccessible. To alleviate this problem, he devised a solution. By creating a sister brand that could pair Rolex externals with off-the-shelf internals, Wilsdorf created what was effectively a Rolex but with a more affordable price. With this mission to produce watches for the everyday man, Tudor continued to grow alongside Rolex and offer watches closely linked to Rolex’s offering.
Following the adoption of Rolex’s Oyster case and automatic movements during the ’40s, Tudor began to venture into tool watch territory. With the Oyster Prince’s success, Tudor’s version of the Oyster Perpetual, Tudor began to work with the French Navy on creating a dive watch. The French Navy would use the watches Tudor made and provide reports on what could be changed about the design to hopefully lead to the perfect dive watch.
The Submariner’s History
Eventually, in 1954, that perfect dive watch materialised and became the Tudor Submariner. Debuting just a year after the iconic Rolex Submariner, the Tudor Prince Submariner shares an incredible array of similarities to the Rolex Submariner. While Rolex originally ran three references from the get-go, Tudor only released one, the ref. 7922. While just as physically robust and aesthetically similar, the ref. 7922 was set out as the more affordable thanks to its third-party movement, the Fleurier cal. 390.
Following on from the ref. 7922, the ref. 7923 and ref. 7924 came into the market with slightly updated aesthetics and some functional changes. For example, the ref. 7923 featured a manual-wind movement, while the ref. 7924 featured 200m of water resistance. Rounding off the first generation of Tudor Submariners, we have what is often described as the most iconic vintage reference, the ref. 7928. With its larger case size, 39mm versus the previous 37mm, and discounted price tag, the ref. 7928 became an incredibly popular watch even though it lacked a chronometer rating. From there, the Tudor Submariner continued to evolve as an offering all the way up until it was discontinued in 1999. Now existing as a snapshot of what Tudor once was, the Submariner’s design continues to control the dive watch market thanks to its sheer popularity amongst collectors.
Design and Aesthetic
Sharing a design language with a watch like the Rolex Submariner can’t be easy. It’s a bit like playing on the same football team as your uber-talented older brother, but that didn’t stop Tudor from evolving the Submariner as its own design. Ranging from things like a blue dial and bezel option, square lume plot options and snowflake hands, Tudor wasn’t afraid to push the boat out.
With that said, the Submariner’s overall design language is perhaps the most iconic of any timepiece. With its waterproof oyster case, three-piece oyster bracelet, and uni-directional anodised aluminium count-up bezel, the Submariner’s beloved design is beautiful while also providing aesthetic confirmation of the timepiece’s practical functions. A dive watch designed like an authentic dive watch, the Submariner does not hide behind fanciful flourishes. Hard-wearing as it was intended, the Submariner has a rugged design whose iconic status speaks to just how much wearers clicked with it over the last six decades.
The Ref. 79090
The particular example we have on offer here is the ref. 79090. Dated to 1990, this early example of the ref. 79090 is the last Submariner reference to feature the old-style acrylic crystal and is very much the last “vintage Sub” made. Adding to that vintage aesthetic is the ref. 79090’s light Oyster bracelet in that its centre links are hollow, as are its 380B end links. The last Submariner reference to come from Tudor, the ref. 79090 features the most modern movement of any Tudor Submariner with its high-grade ETA 2824-2. Renowned as perhaps one of the most robust and widely used automatic movements ever, the 2824-2 was used extensively by Tudor for over 30 years. With its 40mm case diameter, Rolex triplock crown, flip-lock clasp and stunning black dial with original black bezel, this ref. 79090 is a fantastic testament to just how versatile, rugged and capable these timepieces are.
Place in the market
With hyper-standardisation occurring across today’s brands, neo-vintage timepieces are experiencing an increase in their popularity as collectors seek the romanticism of when watches were tools and not just the streamlined luxury products they have become. Carrying these neo-vintage aesthetic and design cues in abundance, vintage Submariners have been at the forefront of that current market trend.
However, beyond their aestheticism, vintage Submariners like our example have also become sought-after thanks to their modern counterpart becoming as popular as it has. The Tudor Black Bay, a Submariner-inspired dive watch that Tudor offers, has become their most popular model and has sent collectors scrambling for the real thing. In fact, the Black Bay collection was one of their first collections that Tudor was relaunched in 2012 with, underpinning it and the Submariner’s importance to Tudor.
Occupying a unique position in the market, the ref. 79090 satisfies the desire for a neo-vintage timepiece while also satisfying the urge for the ‘original’ Black Bay and even the desire for a somewhat modern timepiece that harks back to Tudor’s roots as a utilitarian watch brand with nothing to prove.
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