Tudor Big Block Review | Tudor 79170 Black Dial & 12 Hour Bi-Directional Bezel
Featuring the Tudor 79170 Big Block – Read below to learn about Tudor’s History, the Tudor Big Block 79100 series, and see the Tudor 79170 for sale at Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton.
Anyone who loves Rolex watches would love to have a Rolex Daytona. The Daytona has shaped a league of its own over the years. It’s expensive, but not over-the-top; unique, but not distasteful; flashy, but not obnoxious. And for most people, it’s highly coveted…but not obtainable. The discontinued Daytona 116520 goes for anywhere from $12,000 and up. So, unfortunately, for many, a price like that for a watch is out of reach.
BUT, what if you could have the very next best thing for only $4,000?
That’s where the Tudor Oysterdate Big Block comes into play. It resembles the Daytona beautifully, but it sells for a fraction of the price. There is a reason why it is so similar to the Daytona, and it’s not because it’s a copycat. Below we will explain the history of Tudor, which will help you understand why.
History of the Tudor Brand
It is crucial to understand that the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, was able to make Rolex watches so prominent by creating niches for every model. Other luxury watch brands made watches, Hans Wilsdorf and his company made tools. There is a Rolex watch for deep-sea divers, pilots, scientist, and race car drivers.
All of these Rolex models are high-end in terms of pricing and quality. They are made for people with big incomes. However, they are loved by everyone.
So, in 1946, Wilsdorf made a move to expand his audience. At the time, he did something that probably seemed crazy. He made a new brand of watches that underpriced the Rolex brand.
Nowadays, multi-brand strategies like this are common practice (for example, Volkswagen Group has a range of brands for cars to meet different price points – VW, Audi, Lamborghini). However, back then, it was far from the norm.
Wilsdorf managed this brand division in a genius way, as to not risk ruining the Rolex name. He removed the most expensive element of the Rolex watch, the movement, and replaced it with a less expensive one (yet still extremely reliable). This allowed for a practical alternative for those whom Rolex was out of reach.
Beyond the movement, other components – such as the case, dial, crystal, bracelet – were communal. This made for a fluid transition and it meant that the product quality was still superb.
An interesting fact many people don’t know is, Hans Wilsdorf had actually pursued this multi-brand strategy for a less expensive brand much earlier in his own name. However, this time, he gave it a name of its own, TUDOR.
As Tudor used many of the same pieces as Rolex, some of the older Tudor models, like the one featured in this article, had the Rolex Crown stampings (on the crown and caseback).
This has made Tudor watches with the Rolex Crown on some of the pieces even more collectible as of late.
Today, Tudor is still a sister company to the parent company, of which both are owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. It wasn’t until 2010 that Tudor found really great success, though. They achieved this with their Heritage line, which helped them gain respect as a unique brand.
Since then, some of their vintage watches have become sought after by watch collectors, furthering the brand’s popularity. Many collectors consider Tudor watches as a hidden gem due to the fine quality and very reasonable price point. So, many people are now taking a closer look.
The Tudor Big Block is one of the watches collectors have their eye on, especially.
Tudor Big Block History
1976 was an important year for Tudor because they launched their Big Block Chronograph. It was a very significant development for Tudor, as it was the FIRST automatic self-winding chronograph that Hans Wilsdorf released, ever. This includes Rolex watches…
Yes, Tudor was the first. It was twelve years before Rolex released their first automatic chronograph, the Daytona.
This makes the Tudor brand more innovative than many would give credit.
Collectors gave the Tudor Chronograph Vintage watch the nickname “Big Block” because of the great depth the watch’s case has. The case is big, hence the name. In fact, it was the deepest watch that Rolex or Tudor had ever put out, that is until Rolex introduced the Deep Sea Dweller.
The reason the case was made so thick was so it could fit the automatic winding mechanism. Also, the Tudor Big Block features a modified Valjoux calibre 7750 movement, which is less compact than the 4130 movement which you will find in most Rolex watches.
Like many of the Tudor Chronographs, the Big Block watches are differentiated by the bezel type. There is the steel tachymeter, the plastic tachymeter, and the 12-hour graduated bi-directional bezel.
The Big Block has become highly sought after among collectors over the last few years.
Furthermore, the fact of the matter is, they simply represent great value for money spent. It’s truly a high-quality wristwatch.
On a side note, the Tudor Oysterdate Big Block watches are waterproof. They have a Triplock Screw-down Winding Crown, just like Rolex watches.
The resemblance of the Big Block with the Daytona is remarkable. Parts like the crown, pushers, and bracelet are nearly the same. Although the shield logo makes it obviously a Tudor, it doesn’t take a watch expert to see that the components of the two watches share the same history.
For example, parts like the bracelet have similar product numbers, which means that they are from the same production family.
In fact, the earliest productions of the Big Block had come from the same factory, which is why they have the Rolex crown engraved on some of the same parts as the Daytona.
The Big Block saw the introduction of an achromatic dial, which gives it an even more Rolex-esque feel. Other Tudor Chronographs, such as the Monte Carlos and Homeplate, have multi-colored dials, with very bright colored accents. Comparing to the Monte Carlos and Homeplate, the Big Block carries a minimal dial design. The Big Block 79170 comes in either white with black subdials or black with white/silver subdials. We love how it emphasizes a significant dial-counter contrast.
Main differences of the Rolex Daytona and the Tudor Big Block 79100 series
As mentioned above, the biggest difference is at the heart of the watch, the movement. The Daytona uses Rolex’s famous calibre 4130, while the Tudor Oysterdate Chrono 79170 Big Block has the workhorse Valjoux 7750.
Any watch that utilizes an automatic chrono and is under $5,000 will likely have a 7750 movement. The 7750’s obvious feature is the 12, 6 and 9 layout on the dial, and a date window at the 3. Additionally, the Tudor Big Block has a cyclops eye on the crystal, which the Daytona doesn’t have.
The pushers also require slightly more pressure than a 4130 movement, due to the cam-actuated mechanism the 7750 uses, rather than the higher priced column wheel the 4130 uses. Another easy way to spot the difference is the wobble you feel inside the watch with the 7750 when you rotate the watch on your wrist during the period when the rotor weight is in full spin.
The 7750 might not be as elegant looking (if you were to open up the watch). And it isn’t the most compact. Nonetheless, it is a movement that will last a lifetime.
In terms of price, it is very economical when comparing to the Daytona. It really is a bargain as it offers incredible quality. Nevertheless, it isn’t quite a Daytona. However, for someone who can’t cough up the price a Daytona requires, the Tudor is truly the next best thing. It shares the same heritage and has become the best-kept secret in the luxury watch community. But…not for long.
The Tudor Big Block CASE
The Tudor 79170’s case diameter is 40mm and as its nickname “Big Block” suggests, it is quite thick at 14.5mm. The larger size isn’t at all cumbersome, though. Plus, for those who like bigger watches, it is actually a graceful difference from the Daytona. Many people prefer the larger size over Daytona’s slightly delicate (in comparison) case.
The Tudor Big Block has an Oyster case and is water resistant down to 100m/330ft. It has a Triplock screw-down Oyster crown (with the Rolex Crown symbol) and pushers, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal covering the dial.
Our Tudor Big Block 79170 bears the engraved “Original Oyster Case By Rolex Geneva” and Rolex crown on the caseback, making it even more collectible.
Tudor 79170 Black DIAL with White Sub Dials
The 79100 Tudor Big Block series features a neutral colored dial. The dials are either black with silver or white subdials, or white with black subdials. Our Big Block has the reverse panda color scheme.
The applied indices are easily observable at any angle or lighting condition thanks to the beveled edges. Due to the reverse-panda dial color design, the chronograph seconds hand and the rest of the functions are well defined.
The applied faceted steel baton hands and pip indices are luminous, allowing you to check the time with ease at night.
Most Big Blocks have the Oysterdate name below the Tudor symbol, and this one is no exception. Additionally, it bears the “Automatic Chrono Time” arched over the bottom chronograph register at the 6.
As for the chrono registers, they are raised at their inner, giving the dial a 3D appearance.
Tudor Big Block 79170 Black graduated 12-hour bi-directional BEZEL
There are three references for the 79100 series; each model is individualized by the type of bezel apart from the color variations of the dial mentioned above).
- 79160 with black plastic tachymeter bezel;
- 79170 with black graduated 12-hour bi-directional bezel;
- 79180 with steel tachymeter bezel.
As you already know, we have the Tudor 79170 on display in this post.
The bi-direction bezel on the Tudor 79170 adds to the functionality when timekeeping. The bezel is used for measuring elapsed time and can easily track a second time zone or other activities while not needing to engage the chronograph. This is a classic bezel that you won’t easily find elsewhere. It is quite rare actually, especially on a watch in this condition.
Tudor Big Block BRACELET & CLASP
This Tudor 79170 has the classic Oyster bracelet. It compliments the large case amazingly. It’s made of stainless steel with 589 end links and a lug width of 20mm. The bracelet, like the rest of the watch, is in perfect condition.
The clasp is a double folding deployment clasp and it bears the Tudor logo.
Tudor 79170 for sale
If you have been looking to purchase a Tudor Big Block 79170 in amazing condition, you have found the one. Our Tudor 79170 Big Block is like new and it comes with the original box, booklet, and papers.
It has a reassuring heft to it and when you put it on your wrist, you will see it is a marvelously built timepiece. Finding a well-preserved Tudor Big Block with the Rolex Crown symbols on the crown and caseback is rare. So, if this is something that you want to get your hands on, we suggest pulling the trigger quickly before someone else does. We are confident when we say…you won’t be disappointed.
Contact us below with any questions and to receive pricing.
About Raymond Lee Jewelers
We are Raymond Lee Jewelers, South Florida’s premier luxury jeweler located in Boca Raton. We buy, sell, repair and service, trade, and appraise luxury watches, jewelry, diamond engagement rings and more.
Raymond Lee Jewelers has been in the luxury watch and jewelry industry for over 30 years. Our business is family owned and operated. We have spent the last three decades building a solid reputation, earning us an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Raymond Lee Jewelers takes pride and continues to be active in our community of Boca Raton and South Florida.
Our love for luxury watches stretches far and wide. We have one of the largest collections of Rolex watches in Florida. We buy, sell, repair, service and restore watches such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Van Cleef & Arpelsbr, Hublot, Harry Winston, Bvlgari, Cartier, Breitling, Tudor, among many others. Check out our wide collection of luxury timepieces.