The Tudor "Snowflake" Submariner Collector's Guide


Collectors use the name “Snowflake” to refer the Tudor Submariners with reference numbers 7016/0, 7021/0, 9104/0, and 9411/0 produced from 1969 to 1975 [1] and some newer reissue models. These watches featured square hour markers and a unique hand style that distinguished them back then, and still distinguish them today, from other watches. The Tudor Snowflake Submariner’s unique features differentiated the watch from its older brother, these distinct features differentiated the Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" from its older brother, the Rolex Submariner.

Tudor Snowflake Submariners, like other Submariners produced by the brand, were supplied to the Marine Nationale French Navy, which became a testing bed for Tudor’s Submariner line [2]. As a result, these watches eventually became tool watches for the French Military.

Although a  diver’s watch at its core, the Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" was also fashioned to be suitable and elegant enough for everyday use [3]. Tudor positioned these watches as budget friendly alternatives to the Submariners produced by its parent company, Rolex [4]. 

 

History of the Tudor Submariner "Snowflake"

Tudor Snowflake Timeline

The Tudor Snowflake series is the brand’s second generation of Submariners. Tudor’s first generation was released in 1954, when the company introduced its first line of diver watches- the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariners - beginning with reference number 7922 [5] and ending with reference number 7928.

Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" ref. 7922 and 7928

In 1954, Tudor released its first two Submariners, ref. 7922 and ref. 7928

Model 7928 is considered to be the classic Tudor Submariner, which the company based its second generation Submariners on. Tudor took design cues from its classic Submariner, such as the case and bezel [6], and incorporated them into the Snowflake Submariners. However, Tudor infused their newer watches with distinct characteristics to separate them not only from first generation Submariners, but also from Rolex Submariners line and is Tudor’s parent company. The introduction of an angled hand style and the square shaped hour indicators marked Tudor’s first attempt to create a unique identity from its parent brand [7].

The Marine Nationale

However, there is more to the Tudor’s Snowflake Submariner line than its creative visual features. The second-generation Tudor Submariners also marked the watchmaker’s transition from caliber 390 created created by Parmigiani Fleurier SA (Fleurier) to movements produced by Swiss watchmaker, ETA SA Manufacturer Horlogère Suisse (ETA) [6, 8]. Snowflake Submariners were also the first Tudor watches to use modified ETA movements.

Speaking of firsts, the Tudor Snowflake Submariner with reference number 7016/0 was the first model to use Tudor’s new logo, a shield, whereas the first generation models used a rose logo [9]. Additionally, model 7021/0 was the first Tudor Submariner to feature a date complication [10]. Tudor’s Snowflake Submariner series also went down in history books as the first Tudor watches to use luminescent hands and markers [10], which allowed users to clearly see their timepieces underwater.

Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" with rose logo

First generation Tudor Submariner with a rose logo

The French Navy helped shape the Snowflake series, and series’ influence can be seen in many ways, including design specifications such as the ones mentioned above. The Marine Nationale also lent its name to one of Tudor’s Snowflake Submariners model 9401/0 which is called the “Marine Nationale” (in reference to it being one of the French Navy’s watches). The French Navy’s initials were also first engraved in the casebacks of this series, specifically the black dialed 7016 model that was released in 1974 [2].

French Navy set up the Snowflake

Production

The first Tudor Snowflake Submariner watches were introduced to the market in 1969 [1]. Tudor launched two models simultaneously, and offered consumers the option to buy a model with or without a date display. The Tudor Snowflake Submariner with reference number 7016/0 did not have any complications, whereas, model 7021/0 was released with a date complication. In 1975, Tudor ended their black-dialed 7016/0 and blue-dialed 7021/0 production run.

Tudor Submariner Catalog

The duo was then followed by another pair of Tudor Snowflake Submariners with reference numbers 9401/0 and 9411/0; both were available in black and blue dial variants. Similar to the first pari, one model (9411/0) had a date function while the other did not. Tudor started producing these models in 1975; however, pundits agree on what year Tudor stopped producing them. It is believed to be sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s [6,11].

Tudor Submariner catalog - variations

Although Tudor did not produced any limited editions for this series, the Snowflake Submariner’s distinct “Snowflake” hand style was used in the Tudor Heritage Black Bay [7,12], which was part of the company’s Heritage Collection launched in 2013. The release of this heritage collection marked Tudor’s re-entry into the United States watch market [13], after being absent from it for nearly a decade (since 2004) [14].

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Red and Blue

Design

The Rolex Submariner and French Navy played major roles in shaping Tudor’s Snowflake Submariner line: Rolex Submariners provided the design templated, and the Marine Nationale influenced specific design details that made the Snowflake line recognizable both then and now to watch consumers.

Rolex and Tudor Submariners were born from the same concept that was introduced by René-Paul Jeanneret, a member of Rolex SA’s Board of Directors. Jeanneret, who was also a diver, came up with the idea to create a watch that would not only be great for diving, but also be elegant enough for casual use. His idea spurred the creation of many Rolex diver’s watches, including the Submariner. Therefore, Rolex and Tudor Submariner watches were created to serve two purposes: First be durable enough to handle the rigors of diving underwater use and second - be suitable timepieces for everyday wear [3,6].

ROLEX VS TUDOR

The Tudor Snowflake Submariner and the Rolex Submariner

In addition to the base concept, Tudor and Rolex Submariners also shared the same components and manufacturing process. As a result, Tudor Submariners often looked very similar to Rolex Submariners [4]. Both used the same water-resistant Oyster cases, and Tudor also used Rolex-stamped crowns, case backs, and bracelets. Early Tudor Submariners even used in-house Rolex calibers before transitioning to movements sourced from third party suppliers [4,8].

Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" versus the Rolex Submariner features

Design elements that are similar to both Tudor Snowflake Submariner and Rolex Submariner

ETA provided Tudor with the first third-party movements, which were simpler and more serviceable than the in-house movement [2,7]. This resulted in a watch that was of the same or of a similar build to Rolex’s watches, but with a cheaper price tag. For Tudor, which catered to a different segment of the watch market than its parent company- this was good news. And while Rolex positioned its Submariners as luxury timepieces for the rich and affluent watch consumers, Tudor marketed its Submariners as less expensive alternatives in an effort to capture growing sports watch market during the late 1960s to early 1970s [7].

Snowflake 2784 movement

ETA 2784

A major contributor to the success of this particular Submariner series was the watch’s unique design elements that set it apart, at least visually, from the Rolex Submariner. The hour indicators and watch hand were the watch’s distinct features, and they were specifically created in response to a request from the French Navy.

Marine Nationale watch face

Tudor’s relationship with the Marine Nationale goes back to the Tudor Submariners with reference number 7922, which were the first batch of watches that were supplied to the military branch [2]. These watches were replaced by model 7928-- a more robust model. The Tudor Snowflake Submariners that followed were another robust iteration of the company’s diver’s watches, and that they featured square hour markers and a unique angular hand style. The markers and hands were designed to provide better visibility underwater, a feature that the French Navy wanted for their tool watches [6].

Tudor Submariner Marine Nationale with papers

In addition to supplying the French Navy, a very small number of Tudor Snowflake Submariners were also used by the South African Navy.[2]

Details/Specifications

 

Movement(s)

All movements in the Tudor Snowflake Submariners series were made by Swiss watch manufacturer ETA [15]. Tudor used a total of four ETA movements in the Snowflake Submariner line. The first Tudor Snowflake Submariners models 7016/0 and 7021/0, used ETA 2483 and EFA 2484 movements, respectively. Meanwhile, the second duo, models 9401/0 and 9411/0, used ETA 2776 and ETA 2784 movements, respectively. All four movements used functional jewels ranging in number from 17 to 30. Most, if not all, calibers came with automatic winding, sweep second, and hacking [16,21].

Dial(s), Crystal, Case and Bezels

Tudor used only two dial colors for its Snowflake Submariner line: black and blue. The earlier models used only one dial color, but later models had variations featuring both black and blue dials. Subsequently, there were a total of six possible dial executions or variations available in Tudor Snowflake Submariner series.

Tudor Snowflake color variation

On the face of the dial, the Tudor Snowflake Submariner was line with creamed-colored square markers to indicate the hours (except at the 3 o’clock position in models that had a date complication). These hour markers had tritium lume [7,28] that illuminated in poor lighting conditions. The watch’s hands also had a matching cream color: the minute hand was a long slim rectangle, while the hour hand was wider with two protruding angulars near the top. The angulars are reminiscent of snowflakes, which inspired the nickname given by collectors. The watch’s unique features were encased and protected by a plexiglass crystal [4,7,10-11,22,27].

Tudor Snowflake dial face

Tudor Snowflake crystal and lume

Going back to the complications, (for each pair) that was released simultaneously, Tudor offered watch consumers two models: one that had a date complication and one that did not [4,7,10-11,22,27]. Models with a date complication had alternating red and black numbers [8].

Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" date placement

Red and black numbers for the date display

The dial featured certain words and phrases that characterized Tudor Snowflake Submariners, and the dial’s wording was mostly consistent throughout the entire line. The 12 o’clock position featured the new shield logo [9] and below that was the “TUDOR” branding. Below these two dial markings, the watches either displayed “OYSTER PRINCE” or “PRINCE OYSTERDATE”. At 6 o’clock mark, Tudor used “200m=660ft” and “SUBMARINER”.

Tudor Oyster prince marking

The Tudor’s Snowflake Submariner watches all used a uniform, round stainless steel case, which is indicated in the reference number with “/0”. The case measured 40 mm in diameter and were 12.8 mm thick [4,7,10-11,22-27].

Tudor Snowflake Case

The Tudor Snowflake Submariners also have a 60-minute outer bezel. This is the same or similar to the bezels found in other Tudor Submariners. And as is the case with dive bezels, this one rotates counterclockwise, too [29].

Model 7016/0

The very first Tudor Snowflake Submariner had a black dial with no complication, and on the dial’s face, Tudor used “OYSTER PRINCE”.

Tudor Snowflake ref. 7016

An image of Tudor Snowflake Submariner model 7016/0, which came with a black dial and no date complication.

Model 7021/0

The Tudor Snowflake Submariner with reference number 7021/0 had a blue dial. Unlike the 7016/0, its dial face featured a date complication and the marking “PRINCE OYSTERDATE”.

Tudor Submariner 7021

An image of Tudor Snowflake Submariner model 7021/0, which came with a blue dial and featured a date complication.

Model 9401/0

Tudor introduced its second pair of Snowflake Submariner watches in two dial color variations. Model 9401/0, which offered a black and blue dial variations, however, did not have a date complication; its dial used the wording “OYSTER PRINCE”.

Tudor Snowflake reference 94010 details

An image of Tudor Snowflake Submariner model 9401/0 that came in black and blue dial variations.

Model 9411/0

The Tudor Snowflake Submariner with reference number 7411/0 also came in black and blue dial variations. This model featured a date function, too, and the dial marking “PRINCE OYSTERDATE”.

Tudor Ref. 9411-0 also known as the "Prince Oysterdate"

An image of Tudor Snowflake Submariner model 9411/0 that came in black and blue dial variations and featured a date complication.

Recommendations

Although initially snubbed by watch enthusiasts during the early 2000s (when vintage Rolex sports watches were in high demand), the Tudor Snowflake Submariners are now highly valued and sought after by vintage watch collectors [4]. Tudor Submariners --once thought to be a second-rate copy of Rolex -- are now considered to be a “legitimate and interesting alternative [9]. The new perception was brought about, in part, by the company’s return to the US shores and, re-introducing its classic designs with a modern twist.

Today, watch collectors may consider it harder to find a Tudor Snowflake Submariner that it is to find a Rolex Submariner. This is because Tudor generally produced fewer Submariners than Rolex produced.

Vintage Tudor watches are rare and carry a high price tag. In 2008, the watches sold from $2000 to $3300; however, they now sell from $4000 to $9000+ if the watches are in good, original, or mint condition [4].

 

Models to start with

Those who are looking for a Tudor Snowflake Submariner should start with model that’s in good, original condition. Collectors and enthusiasts should look for the non-date model, 9401/0, or model with a date complication, 9411/0 [4]. Both are available in blue and black dial variations.

Tudor 9401/0 versus 9411/0 watch face

9401/0 on the left, and 9411/0 on the right

Different rare models

For those who want something different or more rare, look for the non-date model blue variation of the Tudor Snowflake Submariner with reference number 9401/0. This watch is also called Marine Nationale because of its connection to the French Navy, and it is among the most sought after of the military watches.

Rare Tudor Submariner Snowflake 9401/0 model

9401/0 also known as the "Marine Nationale"

The Tudor Snowflake Submariner Holy Grail

For the ultimate Tudor Snowflake Submariner, look no further than the military-issued model 7016, produced in 1974. These watches were the first to have MN engravings on their casebacks. Military-issued Tudor Snowflake Submariners can sell for double the price-- upwards of $20,000 [4] -- of the regular models [9].

Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" ref 7016

 

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

  1. tudorwatch, Diving Into the Legend, Article
  2. bulang, Tudor and the French Navy - A Quarter of a Century of Collaboration, Article 2014
  3. Robert-Jan Broer, Rolex Submariner – Historical Overview Of A Diving Legend, Article 2014
  4. James Lamdin, Tudor Submariner: the Rolex alternative, Article 2014
  5. tudorwatch, Diving Into the Legend, Article
  6. Balazs Ferenczi, Tudor Submariner – A Historical Overview, Article 2015
  7. analogshift, Tudor Submariner 'Snowflake', Online retailer
  8. deskdivers, Tudor Submariner Snowflake, Article
  9. AK, Snowflake: Tudor Submariner Icon, Article
  10. watchionista, Diving Into the Legend, Article
  11. tudorcollectorsite,  Submariner Model 9401/0 & 9411/0, Blog post
  12. tudorwatch, Tudor Heritage Black Bay, Article
  13. Benjamin Clymer, It's Official: Tudor Is Coming Back To The United States, And Soon!, Article 2013
  14. Norma Buchanan, Rolex to Launch Tudor in the U.S. this Summer, Article 2013
  15. ETA, ETA - the motorist of time
  16. worldoftime, Tudor Specs table
  17. ranfft, ETA 2776
  18. A Watchmaker, ETA 2824 - Another Little Engine that Could, Article
  19. vintagewatchspecialist, TUDOR PRINCE OYSTERDATE, SMALL ROSE, REFERENCE 7966, CALIBRE ETA 2484, C1959, Online retailer
  20. manoftheworld, Tudor Prince Oysterdate, Online retailer
  21. ranfft, ETA 2784
  22. rolexforums user luxurywatchbuyer, FS: 1974 Tudor Submariner ref. 7016/0 Snowflake, Forum post 2015
  23. chrono24, Tudor Vintage Snowflake Submariner No Date Black Dial, Online retailer
  24. hqmilton, 1968 TUDOR SUBMARINER 7016/0 SNOWFLAKE, Online retailer
  25. gmtbroker, Tudor submariner snowflake raro 94010, Online retailer
  26. sweepinghand, Tudor Serial Numbers
  27. iconeek, TUDOR, PRINCE OYSTERDATE, 200M 660FT, SUBMARINER, « SNOWFLAKE », REF.9411-0, Online retailer
  28. watchuseek user sryukon, Tudor Submariner Lume?, Forum post 2011
  29. edcforums user doggone, How to use the rotating bezel, Forum post 2008

1 comment


  • Dave

    What an outstanding information and history lesson on the " Tudor snowflake" It answered everything I wanted to know on my fathers Rolex Tudor 7021/0 that he left me. Thank you .


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