In July of 1952, Commander James Simpson of the British Royal Navy led a group of scientists and military personnel on a mission to Northern Greenland. This mission, known as the British North Greenland Expedition (or BNGE) involved conducting seismological and gravimetric surveys. Additionally, a number of scientific studies in geology, meteorology, physiology, and glaciology were also carried out. The mission took place over a period of two years and claimed the life of one of the men involved. Of the 30 men who participated, 26 were equipped with Tudor Oyster-Prince wristwatches. During their stay in Northern Greenland, they used BBC radio signals to keep track of the accuracy of these timepieces.
Today, Tudor sets its sights back on the adventuring spirit of 1952. The brand uses the inspiring tale of the icy expedition that surrounds those watches as spiritual inspiration for the new Ranger. Announced this afternoon in London, this latest Tudor watch is sure to cause a stir amongst Tudor fans. Whether it’s a welcome return or not, however, is yet to be seen. The new Ranger takes early 1960s design and charm, a pinch of Tudor and Rolex DNA, and wraps it up in a conveniently wearable 39mm package. But before I jump into the key details about the watch, let’s go back to earlier this week.
The new Tudor Ranger is a 39mm stainless steel sports watch with a classic 12-3-6-9 dial layout. Its design and looks harken back to both something old and something recent. The Ranger has its roots in the early ’60s. It was re-launched by Tudor several years ago, then discontinued a few years later. This new version, however, features the Tudor shield instead of the rose, a silver seconds hand with a red tip, and just the word “Ranger” for the text 6 o’clock. And though the BNGE was used in the campaign for the North Flag, it’s the Ranger’s return that it signals this time. The Ranger name does inspire a sense of adventure, so it also fits the bill. And as much as I still love the North Flag, the new Tudor Ranger is a likable, understated value proposition.
After the requisite period of social media teasing, Tudor has announced their big new summer release, a relaunch of the popular Ranger. While Tudor has been working feverishly over most of the past decade to build out their Black Bay line, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that, yes, the brand has a history of making sports watches that aren’t specifically made for diving. The Ranger, in this guise, is a simple three handed sports watch that will draw some comparisons to a certain watch made by Tudor’s sister company, which has a somewhat similar name, dial layout, and size. What it doesn’t share with that watch, however, is an affordable price tag, which feels like the most immediate story coming out of this launch.
We’re only halfway through July, but 2022 is already shaping up to be the year of the field watch. Legible, function-forward, military-adjacent wristwatches have been around for a century now, but have been on something of a glow-up lately. A lot of you know, love, and maybe even own the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, which has not slowed down since its launch in 2017. Then we have the Rolex Explorer’s 2021 return to 36mm, followed by this year’s Watches & Wonders release of both the Tudor Black Bay Pro and the Patek Philippe Calatava 5226G-001. Add it all up and you’ll see that straightforward and casually capable steel sport watches are enjoying a moment.
Now Tudor is back with a new take on the Ranger to mark – to the day, no less – the 70th anniversary of the British North Greenland Expedition. While the new Tudor Ranger ref. 79950 doesn’t blaze new Tudor territory, it does re-establish the simple, straightforward, and endlessly robust steel sports watch in their lineup. And it’s yet another high-profile field watch with enthusiast chops, a strong value statement, and a vintage-derived aesthetic.
I won’t spend any time rehashing the British North Greenland Expedition, as Mark Kauzlarich covered it nicely with his initial introducing for the Ranger and my pal Jason Heaton wrote a lovely background on the only known surviving watch from the expedition here. This is the watch that inspired the new 2022 Tudor Ranger – at least spiritually.