There was a time when explorers didn’t have TV crews, or talent agents, or book deals, or a mini series on the Discovery channel. A time when exploration was a calling not a photocall.
From July 1952 to August 1954, the British North Greenland Expedition (BNGE) saw a crew comprising HM Forces, the Merchant Navy and a pioneering group of scientists undertake one of the most ambitious expeditions in history.
To give you an idea of its scale, more than 86 tonnes of equipment had to be air-dropped from two RAF planes to supply the team, having dogsled into previously unexplored territory. Among this hefty payload was a case containing 30 new Tudor Oyster Prince watches. Where better for the Swiss watch brand to test its latest automatic, waterproof timepiece than in some of the most demanding and extreme conditions on Earth?
This wasn’t just a marketing exercise; the men were tasked with keeping log books of the watches’ accuracy against daily time signals broadcast by the BBC.
It's safe to say the Oyster Prince proved its mettle, even surviving the lowest temperature ever observed (-87 degrees Fahrenheit, or -66 Celsius). And although most of the watches have been lost to the annals of time, one was recently discovered in a kitchen drawer by Major Desmond Homard – a soldier who had been on the expedition all those years ago.
This Oyster Prince was the inspiration for Tudor’s North Flag: debuting in 2015, it was the first Tudor to use a movement developed entirely in-house.
The BNGE continues to inspire to this day. Indeed, there was no way Tudor could let its 70th anniversary go by without a significant celebration. And so we welcome the Tudor Ranger.
Channelling the spirit of that early Oyster Prince, the new Ranger is a time-only tool watch. It’s rugged. It's no nonsense. It's the real deal. And as with every Tudor, you get mighty bang for your buck.
It’s powered by the in-house Calibre MT5402 automatic movement. Certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), it's armed with a silicon balance spring and weekend-proof 70-hour power reserve. The satin-brushed 316L steel case with matching fixed bezel hits the 39mm sweet-spot.
Naturally, it’s water resistant – to 100 metres – and has a domed sapphire crystal. The matt black dial is also domed (a nod to vintage style) with a grained finish and grade-A Swiss Super-LumiNova®.
There’s a trio of different bracelet options: olive-green Jacquard fabric with red and beige stripes, hybrid rubber and leather or 316L steel with TUDOR “T-fit” rapid-adjustment clasp.
Our pick is Tudor’s now hallmark fabric option – woven using a traditional method on 19th-century Jacquard looms by the Julien Faure company in the St-Étienne region of France.
The origins of the Ranger date back to 1929 – the year Hans Wilsdorf registered the Ranger name, just three years after registering the Tudor trademark. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s until we see the blueprint that inspired today’s new model: the large Arabic numerals, at 3 (for models without the date), 6, 9, and 12 o’clock; the matte black face; and those unique hands.
Much the way the snowflake hand set the Tudor Submariner apart from its Rolex brethren, the shovel hand gave the original Ranger a character distinct from the Explorer. It’s somewhat fitting for a watch inspired by an expedition to a land covered in snow.
We may be in the peak of summer now, but there’s no doubt this watch is as cool as ice.
The Ranger is available on a steel bracelet (£2,420), a hybrid leather and rubber strap (£2,170) and a fabric strap (£2,170).