Up Close And Personal With The Tudor Heritage Ranger
Tudor has once again been in the headlines with a swathe of new releases for Watches and Wonders 2023. But this is a story about a release from the last decade. This is the story of why a large 41mm tool watch is irresistibly quirky for this slim-wristed writer, despite its replacement having, for many, even better dimensions.
The cold wind is on my face as I shift from fourth up to fifth gear. The motorcycle, a silver BMW R80 from 1985, growls in response. The 800cc engine pauses as the crisp clunk of the gearshift takes effect before roaring back. I’m riding what’s known as the Highland Lakes Road, a 150km stretch that goes through the guts of Tasmania, an island state off the coast of Australia.According to DangerousRoads.org, it is “a pleasant driving experience in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. The road has steep climbs, hairpin bends, and lush forest and panoramic views.”
I’m riding from the island state’s northwest region on a 350km journey to its capital city of Hobart to spend the weekend with friends. I check my watch, a Tudor Heritage Ranger, and it’s a little past 2:00 PM. It’s the sort of moment, a sense of freedom, that makes your heart soar. This watch and an IWC Mark XV that my father gifted me have been my constant companions across all sorts of adventures while I’ve been posted to Tasmania to work for the ABC, Australia’s version of the BBC. This is my case on why the new version of the Ranger misses the mark and the mysticism when compared to its predecessor.
What is the Tudor Heritage Ranger?
The Tudor Heritage Ranger (ref. 79910, called “the Heritage Ranger” in this article) was discontinued and recently replaced by the Tudor Ranger (ref. 79950, called “the Ranger” in this article), a watch that sparked some discussion here on Fratello. Inspired by the Tudor Oyster of the 1950s and the Oyster Prince Ranger of the 1960s, the new Ranger was a beefed-up tool watch with character to match.
Like the Tudor North Flag, when the Heritage Ranger was released in 2014, it signaled a significant moment in the revitalized brand’s history. It showed Tudor moving away from Rolex’s shadow and carving out its own identity. Reissuing a watch inspired by the Oyster Prince Ranger made sense, then, as this was an unusual-looking watch that looked distinct from the Rolex Explorers of the era.
Why are we even discussing the Heritage Ranger, though?
Unlike the North Flag, which housed its own movement, the Tudor Heritage Ranger utilized a modified ETA 2824-2 caliber. It maintained the tradition of combining robust workhorse movements with impeccable fit and finish like the Tudors of yesteryear, back when Tudor used to share many parts with Rolex.
Looking at the dial under a loupe truly shows how much attention to detail went into this watch. The red seconds hand added a note of bold color to a natural, organic-like dial, which has an egg-shell texture and painted indices. Another detail that is now missing on Tudor’s releases was the use of Tudor’s older rose logo on the dial. It is a beautiful thing to behold. The case provides a solid 150m water resistance rating, and the lume is bright enough, though not as bright as that of my blue Black Bay Fifty-Eight.
Old versus new
I find the black of the Heritage Ranger’s dial is rich; it sort of absorbs your gaze. This is in contrast to the newer Tudor Ranger, which, to my eyes, has a much flatter and less dynamic dial. The smiling “Rotor Self-Winding” text looks back at you cheekily. The modern version simply states “Ranger” there. I prefer the playfulness of the Heritage version, with its text and curved layout referring to the Tudor Oyster automatics of old, which featured this curvaceous text.
In contrast to the new Tudor Ranger, the Heritage Ranger’s seconds hand is coated entirely in red. Only the tip of the new Ranger’s seconds hand is red, hinting at the presence of the color rather than relishing in its quirkiness. The smaller case of the Ranger sits on my wrist much like the BB58 — in a word, great. It is certainly an improvement on the 41mm diameter of the Heritage Ranger, which seems all the larger because of the thin bezel, accentuating the dial size and adding to a sense of heft with the watch. The new Tudor Ranger also benefits from the addition of a Kenissi caliber with a 70-hour power reserve. This is significantly more than the 38 hours or so of the modified ETA movement in the Heritage Ranger.
Tudor, I have questions
But the coloring of the indices of the new Tudor Ranger is where I find myself scratching my head the most. When I saw the initial product shots of the new Ranger when it was announced, I was very happy to see the more compact dimensions and the improved movement. But the colors of the indices and numerals looked a bit funny to me. “Nah,” I said, “surely just another example of watch companies providing strangely lit product shots.” I was wrong.
When I went to see the new Tudor Ranger in the store, the strangely colored numerals and indices were the first thing I noticed. “Green-ish cream,” the store manager said, but to me, they looked more like puke yellow. What has been seen (in the mind’s eye) cannot be unseen, so they say. And this was something I could not get past. Objectively speaking, the new Tudor Ranger is a great watch. It has good proportions, great specifications, and fantastic quality, fit, and finish. But the relative flatness of the dial (without the rich, textured qualities of the Tudor Heritage Ranger) and the strangely colored lume felt like steps backward, particularly in comparison to the nice cream-colored lume on the Heritage Ranger. I’m sorry to say, but I think the new Tudor Ranger is a bit boring.
My Tudor Heritage Ranger is now in my father’s possession, but I will always associate some of my favorite adventures in my life thus far with wearing it. So perhaps that is why I am so fond of this particular watch, but I genuinely believe there are factors about its design that make it far superior to its successor and capture the spirit of the Tudors of old.
What are your thoughts on the Tudor Heritage Ranger? Is it a misunderstood classic or an ugly duckling rightly relegated to ignominy? Let me know in the comments.
You can also find me on Instagram: @onhenryswrist