Will you agree that a timepiece that looks and feels like a Rolex but doesn’t have the iconic branding, might as well still be a Rolex? If you answered yes, then you’ll likely appreciate what Tudor has to offer. With that said, you’re in for a treat with this Tudor Ranger VS Rolex Explorer comparison review.
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf has created Tudor to sell affordable watches that can house 3rd-party movements inside Rolex cases. Tudor used to be not available in the United States but nowadays, it offers a wealth of mid-priced watches for fans and collectors alike.
Today, we have a head-to-head comparison of the Tudor Ranger vs Rolex Explorer. I have decided to highlight both these watches because they’re very similar in looks and feel. If budget is not an issue, I’d say you should go for the Explorer but otherwise, Tudor watches are a solid option for an extensive outdoor wear piece.
Read more below for my actual review.
Tudor Ranger vs Rolex Explorer: At a Glance
Tudor Heritage Ranger
Oystersteel (stainless steel)
Matte black with painted indexes
Gloss black with white gold applied indexes
Choice of steel bracelet, fabric strap, leather band, bund strap
Oyster bracelet with Easylink 5mm comfort extension link
Automatic ETA-based Tudor Cal. 2824
Automatic in-house Rolex Cal. 3132
Style and Design
When it comes to style and design, it’s easy to say that the Ranger and Explorer are very similar at first glance. However, upon closer look, you’ll see that there are some key differences between both timepieces. For instance, the Tudor Ranger looks more modern and rugged while the Rolex Explorer’s design is executed with more elegance.
Firstly, the Tudor Heritage Ranger M79910 gives off the impression that it’s a reliable tool watch. The quality of the case is definitely present and the brushed finish is truly a standout. As mentioned, the watch exudes a modern and relevant feel which is made more apparent with the ability to choose many different strap and bracelet choices. For me, the best bracelet to use is the nato strap and really completes the overall look of this rugged outdoor watch. As for the dial, it certainly fits the tool watch motif of the watch. Looking at both watches, there’s some hint of the Explorer heritage here but the influence is not that significant. Additionally, the dial is extremely clean and uncluttered but I won’t call the watch elegant.
On the other hand, we have the Rolex Explorer 214270 which comes with a timeless design. It’s the design that’s been honed over the years – classic and timeless but it has been updated for modern taste. The Explorer’s dial is very recognizable, thanks to its oversized Arabic hour numerals, the 3, 6, and 9. One of the most interesting or perhaps polarizing design choices is the matte dial. Under a light source, the dial becomes dark grey and gives the iconic logo a bit more character.
In terms of design, it all comes down if you prefer something more rugged or with timeless elegance. Both are good looking timepieces, that’s for sure.
For sizing, the Ranger comes in a 41mm case size while the Explorer in a 39mm case. At first, it may seem like the 2mm difference isn’t that of a big deal on paper but it does make a big difference when on the wrist. This is mainly due to the case style.
The modern Rolex Explorer is the reference 214270 which brought about a bigger case size. Until 2010, the Rolex Explorer came in 36mm cases which I think is too small to begin with. Fortunately, Rolex did a good job of updating the Explorer with the leap to the larger 39mm Oystercase. This brought the Explorer to a broader market by appealing to the tastes of modern watch collectors. Rolex could have updated it to 41mm but it seems that they decided to keep the size in check. While 39mm is comparatively undersized in today’s standards, I think the size is just right for the Explorer.
On the other hand, the Tudor Ranger features a 41mm case which is larger than Explorer. Initially, I thought that the case size might be a little big but it’s a better fit than expected. At this size, the Ranger should have no problem fitting a broad range of wrist sizes. In my personal experience, the Ranger case afforded a comfortable fit especially with the right choice of strap or bracelet. Plus, it looks just write while sitting on my wrist, despite the larger size.
Both watches feature excellent construction and fit, so it’s hard to go wrong with either watch if you’re on the lookout for these categories.
Starting with the Ranger, the case is simple, brushed steel. I’m not the biggest fan of brushed finish but I think the style is growing on me. The satin brushed finish is great for a tool watch like the ranger. The bezel is fixed stainless steel, so there’s nothing too special in that regard. The lugs are drilled and relatively simple as well, with a lug-to-lug width of 48mm. The drilled lugs should come in handy when replacing the strap. The domed sapphire crystal does its job of protecting the watch. As a tough watch, it has a water resistance of 150 meters which is very respectable.
On the other hand, the Rolex Explorer comes with a fully brushed case and bracelet. However, some areas aren’t brushed like the case walls and bezel ring. I kind of like this construction decision because this gives the Explorer some versatility. Meaning, it can work as a full-fledged field watch or a formal-wear timepiece. That’s the Rolex attention to detail for you.
Comfort and wearability for both watches are on the high marks as well.
As far as fit and comfort go, the Tudor Ranger is a joy to wear. The watch wears close to the wrist because of the trim height. However, the main highlight of the Ranger is the fact that the strap/bracelet can be swapped. Aside from the stainless steel bracelet, the Tudor Ranger can be used with a leather strap or Nato strap. In this case, my favorite is the Nato strap because it perfectly complements the watch’s rugged nature.
As you might expect, the Explorer just wears excellent on the wrist. At 39mm, the Explorer is the kind of watch that just disappears on your wrist when you’re not looking. The Oystersteel bracelet is comfortable and feeling fresh as ever. The clasp is the patented Oysterlock with a 5mm extension link which means that achieving that great fit shouldn’t be a problem. The Rolex Explorer is obviously a daily wearer but you should be able to get away wearing it with a suit and tie outfit.
For me, timekeeping comes down to the movement that beats with each of the timepiece. In this case, the clear winner is the Rolex Explorer with its in-house movement versus the Tudor Ranger’s ETA movement.
First, inside the Rolex Explorer 214270 beats the Rolex-built caliber 3132, boasting a COSC-chronometer certification along with other latest timekeeping technology such as Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. The 3132 movement is built like a tank and features an accuracy of +/- 2 seconds of deviation per day. The caseback is solid, so you can’t view the movement which is a bit of a shame since the 3132 is a solid, tried and true movement.
On the flip side, the Tudor Heritage Ranger M79910 is powered by the modified 2824 movement. It’s Tudor’s spin on the ubiquitous ETA 2824 and I think they did a great job of adding some oomph to it. It’s not an in-house movement but it’s still a very solid timekeeping component. Obviously, using an ETA-based movement is important for keeping the cost down. But there’s nothing to worry about because the 2824 movement is a reliable work horse.
Perhaps the most significant difference in this Tudor Ranger vs Rolex Explorer showdown is the price. For most of our readers, this is the main point of contention between these two watches.
The retail price for the Rolex Explorer 214270 is around $6K while the Tudor Heritage Ranger M79910 is available between $2K – $3K. As you can see, the Explorer is twice as expensive as the Ranger which is hardly a surprise. Tudor has always been the less expensive option for people who want a luxury Swiss watch.
Conversely, the Ranger presents a more subdued aesthetic while the Explorer offers more flash. Relative to the price, the Range is a lot of watch for the money. It’s a luxury watch without paying the luxury tax. On the other hand, the Explorer counts as a pinnacle of watchmaking but be prepared to pay more.
Tudor Ranger vs Rolex Explorer: The Verdict
Which timepiece should you go for?
Personally, if budget is not an issue, there’s very little reason to go for the Tudor Ranger. The Rolex Explorer delivers on all fronts including style, reliability, features, and value. Resale value is also high with the Explorer.
On the other hand, the Tudor Ranger presents an attractive and less expensive option for collectors. It might be the less expensive model between the two but the quality, style, and durability are all present. It’s a great watch for day to day wear.