The Tudor Heritage Advisor is the best watch in the current Tudor lineup – yes, even better than the Black Bay 58 (and I have both)! In fact, it could be the most interesting piece Tudor has ever made – the history, design, rarity and ‘unknownness’ make it compelling.
The Instagram world, watch forums, and even Tudor themselves don’t shout too loudly about this watch. Not being a dive watch immediately reduces the attention of some of the community, but for me that might be part of the appeal – finding something that has true heritage with a unique design and useful complications.
Tim Mosso said recently, “The Tudor Heritage Advisor is a watch that nobody loves”, but he went on to say it is his favourite modern Tudor. After one year on the wrist, I have to say that I agree. The lack of attention it receives in some parts of the watch community does have its upsides too, as this piece often sells for below retail – another good reason to consider the underrated Tudor Heritage Advisor .
I have the Black Bay Harrods to thank for discovering the Tudor Heritage Advisor . Around 15 months ago I put by name down with the fine watch room in Harrods for their special edition of the Black Bay. I was delighted to hear back after just a few weeks to be informed that they had one for me, and with a special number on the back. I went to pick it up but unfortunately there was a problem with the bezel which meant I was unable to buy it. It is a long story which may be better told in a review of the Black Bay Harrods, and it resulted in a further wait of around a year. But patience has its rewards and waitlists have their benefits, since without this disappointment it would not have been resolved with the unexpected joy of discovering the Heritage Advisor.
With my attention diverted from the Black Bay, I started to look deeper into other Tudor offerings. By chance I saw the Heritage Advisor in a YouTube video which sparked my interest and led me to seek it out. When I saw the watch in person it was an instant and deep connection. Rather than being a watch that everyone else wanted, this was a watch that I wanted, whether anyone else did or not. I felt immediately at home with it on my wrist. So, this ‘happy disappointment’ meant that I had discovered a watch which I now enjoy more than the piece I was originally desiring (although I have to say that the Black Bay Harrods is also a great watch).
The history of alarm watches is fascinating. The engineering required to overcome the technical barriers to store the power, release it at a precise time, and do so safely (with enough vibration to produce a loud enough sound without compromising the movement) is not straightforward. An excellent article, “The Curious History of Alarm Watches” written by @watchmedtime covers this history and is recommended reading.
The Tudor Advisor is an important part of the brand’s history. Introduced in 1957 and produced to compete with the JLC Memovox and the Vulcain Cricket (worn by Presidents including Dwight Eisenhower and Linden B Johnson), the Advisor was the first and only alarm watch by the brand. There were three different versions released between 1957 and 1977, although it is the first reference, 7926, which bears the strongest resemblance to the modern Heritage Advisor. Sadly, this is now a rare watch with just a few thousand produced. It used a 34mm Oyster case with twin unsigned crowns at 2 and 4 o’clock and a modified A Schild 17 jewel manually wound 1475 movement.
The alarm functioned by using a hammer that struck a pin attached to the side of the caseback. It was a great technical achievement and was an early sign that Tudor could also lead, rather than just follow the pattern laid down by Rolex. Thus, the Advisor was important historically for Tudor, not just because it was the first Tudor watch without a Rolex equivalent, but also because it hinted at what would become the signature of the modern Tudor brand: heritage combined with more daring design and quality engineering. The Tudor website has an excellent page – The origins from 1952 to 1957 featuring the 7926 which is also pictured here.
There were a number of dial variations, but the rare reference shown here featured several of the design elements reproduced in the modern Heritage Advisor: an inner minute track, long pointed baton style applied hour markers, silver dauphine hands, a red alarm hand, and Ranger style 12-3-6-9 Arabic numerals contrasting with diamond/pyramid like square applied markers at 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 o’clock. It is a stunning design which has clearly inspired the modern piece.
Later Tudor Advisors (reference 10050 from 1969) used a different case with squarer lugs and, a shield rather than rose logo. This used a two-piece caseback that created a chamber in order to further amplify the sound of the alarm.
Introduced in 2011, the Tudor Heritage Advisor was part of the re-birth of the Tudor brand after years of relative obscurity next to the older brother Rolex. This began in 2010 with the release of the Heritage Chrono, followed by the Heritage Advisor and then in 2012 by the now ubiquitous Heritage Black Bay. Almost 10 years on from release, the Heritage Advisor remains the only alarm watch in the current Tudor (and Rolex) lineup and stands apart both visually and functionally as an unusual watch, possibly the most complicated Tudor has ever made.
While the design clearly has echoes of the 7926, the new alarm watch has its own identity. Tudor did not feel bound to slavishly reissue the original, but they updated the model with a larger 42mm case, new complications, and modern engineering. For me it is a winning combination. It manages to evoke the heritage (without overdoing the nostalgia) while also being a contemporary and tasteful watch with its own identity.
In addition to the retained vintage dial features (the inner minute track, pointed baton hour markers, silver dauphine hands, a red alarm hand and pyramid markers) the new dial has some additional elements. At first glance this means the watch has a lot going on. It is certainly feature packed, but it doesn’t overwhelm as some busy watches do (think Grand Seiko Sport SBGX201).
There are a number of new visual elements: an alarm on/off switch aperture, a large raised radial pointer date subdial (suggestive of the 1950s oyster watches), a power reserve indicator (for the alarm), and outer chapter ring indexed with 15 minute markers (more on that later). It is a fascinating design which in my view is not too busy or crowded. It is clear to read and manages to remain balanced and harmonious with a symmetrical structure that I find visually pleasing.
The case retains the two crowns but adds an oversized pusher to activate/deactivate the alarm at 8 o’clock. These additions all have a clear purpose and utility and improve upon the vintage piece. Despite the long list of features, when you spend time with the watch it all starts to make sense as a cohesive whole – the entire watch is designed around the alarm.
When it comes to complications, the alarm is uncommon. However, few complications capture the raw physicality of mechanical timekeeping like alarms, and in daily use it is an incredibly useful feature. When I have used it in work meetings, colleagues could hear the alarm if sitting near me, but it did not cut across the flow of the conversation and I could discretely use the pusher to silence it. In loud environments the alarm still alerts you due to the vibration on wrist. I do not wear watches to bed, but I have left it on my bedside, and it is loud enough to wake me, although I suspect it would be more effective if on the wrist.
The alarm sound itself is really a combination of vibration within the case and a strong but polite, musical ring that is loud enough to be heard without being harsh or irritating. I have not found it too intrusive. A smartphone alarm this is not. It is an advisor that knows when to advise and not pester; how to alert and when to stay silent. It is a sophisticated but mild-mannered timepiece.
One feature I love, and which makes this alarm stand out from older or cheaper alternatives (such as the Poljot alarms), is the way the alarm sounds as it runs out of power and comes to a stop. When the 10 seconds or so of reserve is depleted, the ring does not fade away or slow down, but finishes with a definite final note which is sustained in the titanium case – it is almost bell like. It is these sorts of small touches and attention to detail that adds to the feel and quality of the piece. One reason titanium was chosen for the case was because of its acoustic properties – compared to steel it amplifies the sound and makes it more ‘musical’ in tone.
It should be noted that the alarm is not accurate to the second – there is a tolerance of around 1-2 minutes (on my example at least). This might offend some more than others, especially anyone new to mechanical alarms or coming from a digital alarm. In practice, for me, because the tolerance is consistent (relative to the 15 minute marker) I have been able to adjust the alarm hand with enough accuracy (an advantage of the large dial) so that I can compensate making it accurate within 30 seconds. Having said that, I think the philosophy here is that you should not be living your life to the to the second – if you are, to quote Mr. Mosso again, “you are wound up too tight”!
Despite the visual complexity, using the alarm is straightforward and intuitive. It took just a few minutes to learn how to use the alarm for the first time and there is a helpful 41 second video on Tudor’s website.
To set the alarm, which runs on a separated barrel, you must first wind the second ADVISOR crown. To do this simply pull it out to the first position. This takes 12 turns and must not be overwound (you will feel the resistance). This crown feels solid and smooth when winding with the proper snap-back from the manual wind action.
As you wind, you will see the red crescent portion of the alarm power reserve indicator move clockwise until the thickest part of the wedge is next to the triangle index, indicating that it is fully wound. Like winding a manual watch, I enjoy the physical interaction with setting the alarm. The alarm hand is steady and precise when being set and the build in resistance is assuring.
You must then pull out the ADVISOR crown to the second position to move the alarm hand to set it against the outer hour track (with 15 minute markers) or inner minute track (using the minute markers as 12 minute divisions). The alarm hand can only be turned anti-clockwise and operates on a 12 hour (not 24 hour) basis. You can then press the pusher at 8 o’clock to enable the alarm, and the aperture will change from ‘OFF’ to ‘ON’. This means you only need to glance at your watch to know if the alarm is activated or not.
The usefulness of this little complication should not be underestimated. The vintage piece, in common with most alarm watches, does not have an indicator, leaving wearers with some uncertainty whether it will go off or not an inopportune time (cue the Father Ted mobile phone moment). The Tudor designers understood this issue and addressed it well with the additions of the pusher and visual indicators for both status and level of power reserve. I enjoy the visual complexity and these additions significantly add to the quality and usefulness of the watch.
It is advisable to leave the alarm function to OFF when not in use or when setting the alarm. If left in the ON position without winding the alarm, there is an audible bell if the watch is shaken. This is not a fault (I find it quite charming) and is simply the nature of the mechanism when the alarm module is activated, but it may concern some.
The main crown is used for winding, (quick) setting the date, and stopping the second hand. Because this crown is not screwed down, it winds without being pulled out and moves freely anti-clockwise. This, combined with the usual ETA winding sound/feel, means it does not wind as smoothly or as solidly as the alarm crown. It also requires more turns to start the watch than I would like and is an area of weakness when comparing the feel to my Black Bays.
Listing specifications can be a bit soulless, but there are a few features of the Heritage Advisor that are worth discussing. Yes, it has 100m waterproofness, a smooth steel bezel, a silver dial, a steel bracelet (with those enormously satisfying ceramic balls in the clasp), a domed sapphire crystal (which I prefer to the flat crystal on the Heritage Chrono), but it also has some less obvious elements, and the combination of these specifications make for a truly outstanding timepiece.
The (non screw-down) twin crowns at 2 and 4 o’clock retain the same shape and knurling design as the vintage 7926 but instead of being bare, are now engraved with ‘ADVISOR’ and the pre-1968 rose logo.
The polished grade 5 titanium case make it lighter than expected but not too light, especially with the steel bracelet. It weighs in at 159 grams with all links or 147 grams with three links removed. This titanium blends well with the steel pusher, crowns and bracelet.
The movement is the Calibre T401 which uses a top-grade ETA 2892, modified by Tudor, with a power reserve of 42 hours as its base caliber (28,800 beats per hour). It also has an additional Tudor in-house created custom alarm module on top. This module has been developed, manufactured and assembled entirely by Tudor which is significant because it essentially means that the Heritage Advisor has the first ‘in-house’ produced movement in the modern Tudor era. My experience of ETA modified movements in Tudor watches has been very positive and this is no exception – it has consistently been within COSC parameters and is as accurate as my Black Bay 58. The date also clicks over precisely at midnight which is rather satisfying.
As much as I enjoy the matte ‘gunpowder’ dials of the Black Bays, the dial of the Heritage Advisor is in a different world and shows what Tudor can really do outside of its dive watch lines (the guilloche on the 1926 is also impressive).
The dial oozes quality, not just features, and is quite a fascinating thing to see in the flesh. Some pictures of the Heritage Advisor can make the dial look sterile or plain, but in person it has a warmth and presence. Tudor has used two layers with different finishes on the dial. The inner section is subtly elevated and incorporates the large radial pointer date subdial. The elevation, along with the contrasting linen coloured matte finish, gives a subtle sense of depth. The outer part of the dial, with the applied square pyramid markers and Arabics, has a more dynamic satin finish which adds to the three-dimensionality. This finish changes colour from a darker (than the linen) silvery grey, to a matching linen colour at the mid-point through to a paler grey colour, depending on the light and the angle. This effect is especially enjoyable on the wrist. The markers and hands also catch the light well and add a sparkle to the wearing experience.
The inner and lower part of the dial are home to new additions: the alarm on/off aperture at 9 o’clock indicating the alarm status set by the pusher, the pointer date subdial with ADVISOR text on concentric circles at 6 o’clock, and a power reserve indicator at the 3 o’clock position. The power reserve complication is very useful to ensure you do not overwind. It is also enjoyable to see it turn as you wind and circle back as the alarm is activated.
The ADVISOR text on the subdial is a nice new addition which I also appreciate – it adds a strong sense of identity to the piece that is already atypical in the Tudor lineup. Although not strictly necessary, and not found on the vintage piece, the addition of the date is done thoughtfully and respectfully and fits the overall neo-classical theme very well. A date complication is a very useful thing which only improves the utility of the watch and serves its ‘advisor’ purpose. The use of the red text for 31 on date subdial matches the red alarm hand and the power reserve indicator, and further coheres the design of the watch.
When brought together and viewed from above, the radial date subdial at 6, the ON/OFF aperture at 9, the power reserve at 3 and the Tudor logo at 12 gives the dial a kind of cruciform symmetry.
The dial features an inner track for the minutes and an outer beveled hour track with markings for setting the alarm. This design choice should be noted as a key difference from the vintage piece (which used only an inner track only for setting the alarm). The outer chapter ring is segmented with short marks for 15 minutes, longer marks for 30 minutes, and thicker markers for the hour. The end of the red alarm hand meets this track precisely which allows you to set the alarm accurately.
Interestingly, the flat base of the arrow part of the alarm hand also just perfectly clears the inner minute track which enables you to also use the alarm hand against the inner track. In this way you have a choice of 12 minute increments on the inner dial, like the original vintage piece, or use outer chapter ring for 15 minute divisions, which is perhaps easier in use. I believe this to be a deliberate design choice – to honour the earlier design without being bound by it.
The twin track design, with hours and not minutes on the outer chapter ring, requires a paradigm shift and takes a little getting used to (most people assume the outer track is for minutes or seconds). However, the more you use the watch, the more this choice makes sense. Because it is a mechanical alarm it is not accurate to the second or even to the minute, the extra resolution of a wider outer track helps set the alarm more precisely. When I first noticed this, I thought that Tudor should have put the minutes on the outer track and the 15 minute markers on the inner; however, having used it regularly I now appreciate the clever design that both retains the vintage elements and adds new functionality in a consistent way that serves the purpose of the watch and adds to its unique character. The design prioritises the ability to tell the time and read the watch accurately while also elevating the functionality of the alarm complication. The outer track also has a slope to it which enhances the sense of depth and acts like a rehaut. The hands are also distinct compared to other contemporary Tudors – a set of sharp silver dauphine hands with lume strips (that would look at home on a Grand Seiko) and a silver needle second hand which moves gracefully across the dial. It feels classy, refined, and assured. The hands are well proportioned as well as clear and legible in a range of situations. Although the large minute hand extends beyond the minute track, the lume strip on the hand finishes precisely at the edge of the inner track, which I think is a deliberate design choice to subtly aid clear reading of the minutes. The minute hand reaches exactly to the edge of the outer applied markers, while the hour hand extends precisely to the end of the markers of the minute track. Again, this kind of attention to detail underlines the charm and appeal of the piece. Although it is not immediately obvious, the hands, applied batons and lower pyramid markers all have luminescent paint. While it is clearly no Pelagos, it is leagues better than the lume on my Tudor Prince Date+Day (which barely functions) and is surprisingly usable considering the relatively small areas of application. It is not going to win the next JOMW Lume Wars episode, but for this genre and style of watch (which often doesn’t have any luminescence at all) it is a welcome addition and one of those extra touches that all add up to a great owning experience.
The case is an interesting mix of materials. The central case and back are made from titanium, while the pusher, crows and smooth bezel are of steel. The difference in colour is subtle and hard to see on the pusher and crowns but can be seen easier when comparing the bracelet to the lugs. Tudor may have used a lighter custom titanium alloy.
The case shape is another aspect of the watch that makes it stand out in the range. As dissimilar as the Sky-Dweller case is to the Submariner, so the Heritage Advisor is worlds apart from the Black Bays. It is curved and very shapely – like a thicker, larger Datejust on wrist – but with longer, curved thinner lugs that follow the arc of my wrist very well. It feels more like an older Rolex or Tudor piece but in a larger case. I would prefer it slimmer but in daily use this has never bothered me. At 13.9mm with a rounded case flank and a sloped bezel, it fits under most cuffs. Indeed, the thickness, a result no doubt of the added alarm module, does mean that it sits high enough to allow you to operate the alarm crown when on wrist – this can become a little bit of a stress reliever in meetings (like turning the bezel on a dive watch) – one benefit of not having screw down crowns.
The case shape lends itself to the dressier side, but the thickness and modern 22mm lug spacing ensure it is not a pure vintage piece and adds a little sportiness, especially with the bracelet. The oversized teardrop shaped pusher at 8 o’clock is beautifully shaped, thoughtfully placed, and ergonomic in use. The shape, size and position allow you to silence the alarm quickly without having to raise your wrist to find the pusher.
At 42mm, the Heritage Advisor is large on paper, however, the case and lugs are curved allowing the watch to conform to the wrist in a way that the Black Bay 41 does not. The more important specification is the lug-to-lug measurement which is 49mm and makes it perfectly wearable on my flat 7-inch wrist. I often wear a 36mm Tudor Prince Date+Day and a 39mm Black Bay 58, and despite the jump in size to 42mm, the Heritage Advisor does not feel too large or oversized. The titanium and steel case make it light enough to be comfortable for extended periods without feeling too light (I struggled with the Grand Seiko ‘Snowflake’ for that reason).
The way a watch wears on the wrist and how it feels is critically important in how you connect with the piece. When I am wearing the Heritage Advisor it does affect how I project myself. Perhaps because I normally wear it in a work context, I feel a touch more professional, confident, and content. I wear it a little loose to allow for some wrist-swell, and after a day’s wear it is still comfortable and not at all irritating. I have worn it at altitude, in hot and cold environments, and found it to be solid, reliable, and comfortable – the perfect business watch. The bracelet is non riveted – even fans of the in-house Black Bays may rejoice! When comparing this to the Black Bay 58 bracelet, it feels a little more solid and more comfortable due to the extra width. It has a nice gentle taper and the curves on the underside of the links make it sit very well without pulling hair as well as leaving room to aerate the wrist. The spring-loaded ceramic balls have been well documented elsewhere and ensure that the clasp will retain its security and tolerances over time.
The Heritage Advisor is currently offered with three dial colours: silver, black and cognac (presumably cigars and whiskey are mandatory with this option), and on either a black alligator strap and deployant clasp or stainless steel bracelet. They also come with an additional silk NATO style strap. The black strap is real alligator and hence fairly expensive to purchase separately along with the deployant clasp (around £695 for both) but would dress up the piece, making it look more elegant.
The Heritage Advisor is a perfect office watch and goes well with a full suit, especially with the alligator strap. It pairs well with more relaxed business clothes too, but I think it works best in a smart environment, even if on the bracelet. Although I have worn it with short sleeves it doesn’t quite feel right without a cuff. The black dial is possibly more versatile and sportier, but with an abundance of black dial watches in my collection I felt the original silver dial was the best reference for me.