Tudor Submariner RCN

Tudor Submariner RCN

Military wristwatches hold an endless fascination for the collectors who love them. With their spartan, tough exteriors, they have epitomized rugged utility since the First World War. But there are certain military watches that hold more allure than others for modern-day collectors.

We mean, of course, Mil-Subs.

Rolex and Tudor were by no means the exclusive purveyors of dive watches to the world’s navies—that honor also went to Blancpain, whose mil-spec Fifty Fathoms hold their own appeal. However, while mil-spec Fifty Fathoms are also relatively scarce, far fewer Rolex Mil-Subs were produced. For example, only 1200 Rolex Mil-Subs were issued between 1971 and 1979, and prices for survivors today are, well, considerable.

Fortunately, for those who desire a military Submariner but lack the means (or the resources) to procure a Rolex version, there’s Tudor.

Starting in the 1950s, Tudor secured contracts to furnish watches to the divers of the world’s navies. The first and perhaps best-known was with the French Marine Nationale, whose work with early Tudor Subs in the 1950s led to considerable growth and development of the model. However, other countries received Tudor Submariners as well, including South Africa and Argentina.

And some made their way the Royal Canadian Navy…

Clearance and combat divers in the RCN were given Tudor Submariners as early as the 1960s. However, since no ledger book exists (like the two service ledgers that the Marine Nationale kept), collectors of these watches must rely on information gleaned from online forums, as well as the expertise and knowledge of the most seasoned among them. One of the most well-respected of these is Ross Povey.

According to this exhaustive and comprehensive write-up that Povey composed for Bulang and Sons, certain “tells” designate a Tudor Submariner that has served with the Royal Canadian Navy. Unlike Rolex Mil-Subs, whose dials are marked, those of Tudor Mil-Subs aren’t. Therefore, one must look at the markings on the case back: the owner’s name, sometimes a Navy Stores stock number, and the serial number of the watch.

The Reference 79090 Tudor Mil-Sub that Povey mentions at the end of the article is this very watch.

For a community that’s as closely-knit as military watch-collectors are, it should come as no surprise that certain watches have a habit of appearing time and time again. However, their provenance is seldom as apparent as is with this watch. According to Povey, this watch was first sold 12 years ago by a close friend of the original owner: Petty Officer Cumberland.

The watch made its way to Povey, who handed it off to the next owner, until it wound up on this side of the pond and on the wrist of one of our close friends with a little help from yours truly.

Our friend (a Canadian himself) wore it with pride, and lovingly preserved it. A Reference 79090, it’s one of the last Tudor Submariners furnished to the RCN. Though years of careful wear have rubbed away at the engravings on the case back, PO Cumberland’s name is still visible.

From its genesis as a tool watch worn by those who “stood on guard” for their native land, to a loved and treasured companion, the “PO Cumberland” is ready to set sail once more.


SKU: AS02162

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Tudor Reference 79090. ETA 2824-3 Self-Winding Movement.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition over all, showing moderate signs of use and wear in keeping with its age and service history. Bezel insert is in very good condition with light signs of aging. Dial is in excellent condition. Rolex signed crown. Case back with 'Cumberland' engravings shows signs of wear and rubbing from use.

Includes one 20mm Rolex 9315/501B folded link bracelet and a black NATO thought to have come with the watch from the original owner.

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