Tudor 'Big Block' Chronograph
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Tudor 'Big Block' Chronograph

Though Tudor has been, from its inception, the gateway brand to horological behemoth Rolex, it's made strides in distinguishing itself. Foremost is aesthetics, with Tudor models with a more sporty, athletic flavor than their ofttimes staid Rolex counterparts. And despite the rugged exterior, Tudor is no slouch in the technical department, achieving horological distinctions sometimes decades ahead of their parent company. 

After the game-changing introduction of the Chronomatic and the El Primero automatic chronograph movements in 1969, it seemed as though every brand rushed to produce an automatic chronograph of their own. Heuer (along with partners Hamilton, Breitling, and Buren) were more than keen to share their creation within the Swiss watchmaking community. Zenith, protective of their El Primero movement, were reluctant to offer it to competitors, only granting it to Tudor's parent company in 1988 for the Daytona. 

Therefore, there simply wasn't an alternative to the Chronomatic or El Primero--that is, until 1974, when Valjoux introduced perhaps the most ubiquitous modern-day automatic chronograph movement: the Valjoux 7750. 

Valjoux had long been a stalwart of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Brands from Breitling to Heuer relied on the column wheel caliber Valjoux 72, for example, which has become a byword for desirability in the mercurial vintage chronograph market. So it's no surprise, then, that Valjoux would produce an automatic chronograph movement of their own, a movement that (with its cost-saving construction) would prove a cheap and reliable alternative to the capricious Chronomatic and the elusive El Primero.

In the Rolex/Tudor stable, the Daytona commands a great deal of respect, remaining one of the most well-known and sought-after Rolex lines. But while Rolex was still filling their watches with hand-cranked units well into the 1980s (and didn't conceive of an in-house chronograph movement until 2000), Tudor was rolling out chronographs driven by automatic Valjoux drivetrains - a fact that is all too often overlooked when the conversation veers toward collectible vintage chronographs. 

The 'Big Block', which was released in 1974, marked an impressive leap for Tudor, largely due to the introduction of the Valjoux 7750 Automatic movement. In addition to bringing the perk of self-winding technology to Tudor's popular line, the new drivetrain included an hour register and a quick-set date, features that made the watch more functional and more enjoyable to wear. 

Initially, the Big Block collection had three main references, all bearing Rolex cases and bracelets. The Reference 79160 featured a fixed tachymetre bezel, the Reference 79170 a bi-directional hour bezel, and the 79180, which was fitted with a steel tachymetre bezel (reminiscent of the Daytona). Then, in the 1990s, Tudor made a huge leap in separating the Big Block from the Daytona aesthetically, with the introduction of the Reference 79260.

This expression of "Big Block," which we offer here, says "Prince Date" on the dial, instead of the "Prince Oysterdate" that marked the watch as a Rolex creation. Gone, too, is the tritium from the hour plots and hands, replaced with the less radioactive SuperLuminova. The case back bears "Tudor Prince Geneva" along with the Tudor shield, as does the bracelet, now a new reference 78400.

In excellent overall condition, this well-preserved example has become a favorite expression of the Tudor Big Block, offering a classic sporty look at a tremendous value - an amazing (and savvy) alternative to the Rolex Daytona.

Details

Stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown and pushers). Tudor Reference 79260. Valjoux Caliber 7750 Automatic Chronograph Movement. Circa 1990s.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition, with sharp, thick lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Case does have minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Bezel is in excellent condition. Dial is in very good condition with minimal signs of wear and no major blemishes or signs of discoloration. Rolex crown. Tudor caseback has minimal signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.

Includes one 20mm Tudor Reference 78400 bracelet with 589 end links. Bracelet is in very good condition with minimal signs of "desk-diving" wear.

Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle

Also includes box and papers.

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