If Tudor wants to get rid of its image of a ‘poor man’s Rolex’, this new flagship North Flag model is a step in the right direction. At least, the combination of an in-house mechanism, a cleverly designed case, an elegantly simple dial, and the famous Tudor Rose right below the Arabic numeral “12” make a strong impression. Whatever the next model be, the brand doesn’t plan to dwell on its past forever.
This new Tudor North Flag is a milestone of sorts for the recently resurrected Swiss brand. While the fact that it is the first Tudor ever to be equipped with a sapphire dial will hardly leave anyone gasping for air in excitement, the news that the brand has finally been promoted to a rank of real Manufacture will probably have a serious impact on future resale value and collectability of their timepieces.
Previously available only with third-party movements manufactured in most cases by ETA, Tudor watches always looked a bit sub-par to their parent brand, Rolex. There was always something ‘insubstantial’ about it. Now, the company has a good chance to become a real name in the world, which is seriously overcrowded with watchmaking houses desperately trying to make a dent of their own, if not in the Universe, then at least in your wallet.
While previous iterations of their timekeepers tried to play on a certain sense of nostalgia about the good old times, the North Flag clearly looks into the future.
The trinket has a technical, no-nonsense appearance that seems to be inspired by the iconic Vacheron Constantin Overseas, in a subtle way. There is something in the shape of its finely brushed stainless steel body and the way its horns are shaped that reminds me of the living legend. Of course, with all the financial backing that Tudor gets from Rolex, they didn’t need to resort to ripping off one of the most easily recognizable sporty dress watches on the market. Again, the resemblance is subtle and looks more like a respectful nod to the classic model.
Another point that I would like to note here is its compact size that significantly expands the North Flag’s base of potential buyers, although Tudor has never indulged in making time measuring devices for people with a huge inferiority complex.
All in all, the device makes a good impression. I would love to have one of these beauties if I was on a market for a sports watch that sits on a dressier side of the fence (unfortunately, at this time I am not).
As I have already noted, the main point of attraction of this device is the Tudor MT5621 self-winding caliber that animates it. Boldly showing the characteristic elements of Rolex’s own design school (look, for example, at the transversal balance bridge that looks similar to that of the good old Rolex Caliber 3135 (besides the legendary Submariner and Explorer, it also powers their gorgeous Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master model) and does the same job of isolating the balance wheel with its non-magnetic silicon spring from shocks and vibrations).
The movement, by the way, features a bi-directional winding system that makes it even more efficient, which is certainly a must for a person who doesn’t plan to wear the watch on their wrist for a whole day: many less expensive and less efficient mechanisms give their owners buckets of frustration because of their inability to get fully recharged in a short period of time.
When fully wound, it will be good for approximately 70 hours of power reserve: another winning point for this model.
It is also said to be officially certified by Swiss certification authority COSC as a real chronometer: something that you don’t see often in the CHF 3400 range (for a model on a textile strap with nice contrast stitching that matches in color the scale on its handy power reserve indicator, the version on a steel bracelet with folding clasp will be CHF 100 more expensive) that this watch commands.
If things further move in this direction, soon we will see a whole plethora of new, original timekeepers that would bring us close to Rolex in terms of quality and value without the need to spend big bucks.
Perhaps, I would prefer to see a bit more decor on this mechanism, but I still get the idea behind the choice of design. I have a feeling that the same idea of deliberately simple beauty lies behind the way its “Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut” bracelet is designed.
Given the level of experience the guys behind the brand have, it is no wonder that the dial of the watch is as clean as fresh snow and as easy to read as the eyesight check table. The lack of a fisheye lens over the calendar window (I have an impression that almost everyone won’t help to compare this model to a Rolex watch) disappoints me a little since the date aperture is indeed small, but otherwise, the face of this wristwatch is almost perfect: it is high contrast, easy to read and is not overburdened with unnecessary elements of decor.
The case of North Flag comes in a relatively compact size of 40 millimeters in diameter.
Thanks to the chosen size and its relatively short integrated lugs, the watch doesn’t take a great deal of space on a normal wrist. It even looks great there despite its visual flatness. Still, if you don’t happen to own a “flat” wrist, you should probably try one in person, since, I must admit that, its profile doesn’t look ergonomic to me. It just may so happen that this beautiful object will simply not fit you like a perfect pair of hand-crafted Italian shoes may not fit your particular foot.
The case is not as simple as it looks. It, for example, sports a double bezel that comprises steel and ceramic rings making it look more interesting in its deceptive simplicity.
The watch was presented back in March at Baselworld 2015.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Tudor North Flag MT5621 specification
Price: 3400 CHF — 3500 CHF
Winding: Automatic, bi-directional
Movement: Tudor caliber MT5621, in-house, COSC-certified chronometer, 33.8 mm x 6.5 mm, silicon balance spring, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 28
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 70 hours
Movement decoration: Open-worked oscillating weight, brushed bridges, polished screw heads
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator
Case and Crown: Stainless steel
Bezel: Stainless steel and Ceramic
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 40.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Textile strap with yellow contrast stitching / Stainless steel bracelet with steel folding clasp