The Arcade has gone through a number of evolutions since it first opened in 1819, even to the point that it became more associated with scandal than the “sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public” that was its original purpose. Of late, however, it has become something of magnet for replica watch collectors, a status that owes much to the 2002 arrival of David Duggan, a specialist in vintage Patek Philippe and Rolex replica watches and something of an institution in the replica watch world, drawing in serious collectors from across the globe.
While Duggan was delighted to see the refreshed Tudor mens replica brand take shape as visited Rolex at Baselworld, he didn’t imagine for a moment that he might be taking the brand on as a retailer. However, the renewed interest in vintage Tudor that the brand refresh prompted touched his clients and so his business – he was one of the first to identify Tudor as one to replica watch in the vintage world and has since built up a large collection of iconic vintage Tudors.
That caught the attention of Sven Olsen, the general manager for Tudor in the UK who saw that this was an opportunity for the brand to establish the contemporary/vintage connection that Rolex and Patek Philippe both benefit from. This is the first time that Tudor have opened with a retailer whose first interest is in vintage, but Olsen thinks that this will be a significant boost for the brand’s perception in a globally important vintage watch district.
The current production replica watches on sale will include the Black Bay collection plus the Tudor Ranger, Pelagos, North Flag, Heritage Chrono and Advisor models – the entire “Heritage” side of the collection, in other words. To reinforce the link between Tudors old and new, you won’t find any Fastrider Chrono or GranTour models in Duggan’s windows.
The much sought-after vintage models include the Oyster Prince as used by the Royal Navy during the historic British North Greenland Expedition; rare, early versions of the original Advisor and several highly desirable Oyster Prince Submariners – currently on display are pieces produced for the South African and Argentine naval forces.
Pictured here and above is a rare Tudor sub consigned to the Argentine navy. According to David, precisely dating the replica watch is very difficult but it certainly hails from 1980-83, which means, in his own words, “it could have been on the Belgrano in ’82”. The replica watch is stamped on the back with a service number (where you can also see the legend “Original Oyster Case By Rolex Geneva”).
But, of course, the most prized pieces are the chronographs – “Monte Carlo” and “Big Block” pieces in particular. We snapped a couple of beautiful Monte Carlo chronographs, but were too late even for the Big Blocks – rumour has it that a regular customer took a fancy to them and bought Duggan’s entire stock (although one was in fact still there – see below).
These two chronographs are valued at £16,950 (blue) and £13,950 (grey), and both are in brilliant condition. Duggan even raises the prospect that the blue Monte Carlo could yet achieve Paul Newman Daytona levels of desirability, pointing out that it’s much rarer for one thing: “I used to get Paul Newman Daytonas in maybe twice a month, for quite a few years. And these Monte Carlos, they used to change hands for £600-£700.”
Elsewhere, we saw a rare “Albino” Oysterdate Chrono from 1990. While that’s not the core era for peak Tudor right now, Duggan – as always – has something up his sleeve. “I sold a Rolex Albino to Eric Clapton in 1999, for £44,000. Last year the same best replica watches review sold at auction for £900,000. These Tudors are going in the same direction.”
The relative values of vintage Tudor and contemporary production certainly reinforce the idea that Tudor is a brand with a future.