[VIDEO] Review: The 39mm Tudor Ranger Through the Eyes of a Rolex Explorer Owner

Tudor had an incredible run last year in what was one for the books in regards to sport watches of all varieties. The Black Bay collection alone currently has over 60 different models that span a wide range of sizes, complications, and all sorts of precious metals. They have a solid offering of tool-specific watches with the deep diving Pelagos and an all-purpose field watch with the Ranger. So with their current lineup of go anywhere-do anything watches, how did Tudor actually have a big year?

Well in a way, they did so by going smaller, by bolstering their offering in the 39mm case space. Thirty-nine has been the magic number that seems to resonate the most among enthusiasts and is often deemed as the perfect size for a multitude of reasons, with wearability across a wider range of wrist sizes being the main one. They expanded their Black Bay line by adding a steel bezel GMT with the Black Bay Pro which for the most part kept the same case proportions as the Black Bay 58, including the 39mm case. They took the hardy Pelagos, eliminated the date, shaved a few hundred meters of water resistance, and compressed it into a 39mm case. And finally, in the dead of summer, they announced a new 39mm Ranger, which like the Pelagos, saw a reduction in case proportions, mainly with the case and lug width.


Zach Weiss was on the ground in London when the 39mm Tudor Ranger was revealed last year, and in his Hands-On he did a fantastic job encapsulating what the new Ranger was all about in terms of its historical significance, how it has evolved since Tudor officially introduced the Ranger in the late 1960’s, and how the new willowy Ranger fits into the current landscape of Tudor sport watches. Now I’m not writing this to one up Zach’s Hands-On (in fact, I’ll concede to his write-up right away), but more so because I think my perspective of the Tudor Ranger is slightly different since it comes through the lens of owning a Rolex Explorer 14270.

My run-ins with the Tudor Ranger go back many moons. It all started with my unhealthy obsession with the Rolex Explorer 1016. But as the same old story goes, prices for that particular reference were already at astronomical heights (I don’t even want to know what they trade for these days) and I was forced to shift my gaze elsewhere. Enter the Tudor Ranger ref 9050/0, sporting an aesthetic similar to the Explorer 1016, but with a slightly svelter case, a 6-9-12 numeral configuration, and a cyclops date. It was different enough, but my deep dives into Tudor forums and sleepless nights searching for the right model never really translated to a purchase. Fast forward to 2020, my search for a Ranger/Explorer ended when the Explorer 14270 made its way into my collection.

A Vintage Tudor Ranger With A Proper Cyclops Date Window – Image Via Analog/Shift

It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster ride when you look at how the Tudor Ranger has been sized. When it was first introduced, it came in a 34mm steel oyster case with an option for date or no-date. After the 34mm Ranger was discontinued in the late 80’s, Tudor revived the Ranger in 2014 in a much larger 41mm case and with a date-less dial, which would stick around for several years until the Ranger was yet again discontinued in 2020. The current 39mm Tudor Ranger is a far-cry from the vintage Rangers and an improvement from the previous 41mm model. The slight proportional changes in case width from 41mm to 39mm and lug width from 22mm to 20mm drastically alters how the watch looks and wears on the wrist. It may not seem like much, but when you factor in a steel fixed bezel and minimal dial furniture, it eliminates a lot of the negative space that made the 41mm dial seem too expansive.

Thirty-Nine, Tudor’s Magic Number

The case architecture of the 39mm Tudor Ranger falls in line with that of the Black Bay 58. The crown stands alone with the absence of crown guards, lugs curve ever so slightly at the ends, and a flat wall makes up the case sides. Unlike the Black Bay 58, the 39mm Ranger is entirely brushed aside for the kiss of polish along the bezel edge and lug facets. I can’t help but be reminded of Brutalist architecture every time I look at the case construction of the 39mm Tudor Ranger. Like the buildings using this type of architecture style, the Ranger case comes off as serious and utilitarian. And the brushed finishing keeps the focus solely on the case structure. The opposite is true for the Rolex Explorer 14270. Aside from the obvious difference that the case is much smaller at 36mm, the case sides are curvier and are complemented by a polished finish (both on the sides and bezel), making the case more refined and multi-dimensional.

Brutalist At Its Best

The dial is where the 39mm Tudor Ranger retains the vintage charm of their earlier models. The dial uses a shade of black that looks faded as if the watch had already lived a full life outdoors. The dial also uses a subtle grainy texture further adding to the quaint aesthetic. The patinated tones continue with the yellow-green coloring of the markers and numerals.

The typeface used for the numerals has an old-world vibe, and is pulled from the numerals on the Explorer 1016. But looking more closely, there are some slight variations to the way the numerals are presented as a whole, especially with the six and nine numerals. The six loops back into itself making a horizontal oval as the swoop above is exaggerated. The same happens with the nine numeral, but in an inverted fashion. At first, I thought this might have been due to the crystal bowing out more and distorting the numbers. But that is in fact how they are presented and it has a similar vibe to mid-century divers that use quirky style cardinal numerals like the Oris Diver 65.

A Peculiar Six & Nine

One of the differences between the 39mm and 41mm Ranger variations is that the numerals and markers are pad printed onto the dial of the current 39mm version. The 41mm Ranger had raised markers and numerals which added some depth, even though they ended up getting lost in the bigger dial. The 39mm Tudor Ranger dial feels way more balanced and properly proportioned to where the markers and numerals reside at a suitable location in relation to the center of the dial.

Another distinguishing feature of the 39mm Ranger is the “Ranger” or “snakehead” hour hand. It’s arguably more distinct than the Mercedes hand found on the Explorer since the Ranger’s hour hand is solely used on the Ranger itself and not on other models, whereas the Mercedes hand is seen on the Submariner, GMT, Explorer II, and Air King. The Ranger handset is of the same design except it appears that the handset on the 39mm version is a touch smaller, further adding to the proportional look of the dial. The seconds hand maintains the syringe style except now only the “needle” portion of that syringe gets the red accent. “Less is more” is a common theme within the dial as well when you compare the text seen on the Ranger and the Explorer. As Zach mentioned in his article, Tudor is not shy about throwing a sentence or two on the dial. But the text, dial presentation and everything else about the 39mm Tudor Ranger remains minimal and straightforward.

Tudor knows how to make a solid stainless steel bracelet and that continues to show with the Ranger. There’s a proper taper from the endlinks to the clasp that acts as a detailed frame to the updated case and dial. It also comes equipped with the T-Fit clasp adjusting system which first debuted in the Black Bay 58 Bronze. It’s a smooth feature, and is something that won’t be found on the bracelet of a 41mm Ranger, nor any Rolex Explorer.

T-Fit Clasp Makes This Package Even Sweeter

If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve given me the benefit of the doubt that I’m aware that both the 39mm Tudor Ranger and the Rolex Explorer 14270 are completely different watches. It’s an exercise that seemed somewhat futile to me at first, but as this article has written itself, these watches do have more in common than we think. Obviously they have the same aesthetic, and come from the same brand bloodline, but when you break it down to the actual idea of the watch and how it came to be, their stories are very similar – the Oyster Perpetual made it to the top of Everest before the Explorer existed, and the Oyster Prince was a part of the famous British North Greenland Expedition before the Ranger was a thing.

Both watches are very much their own thing. Every feature and design decision in the 39mm Tudor Ranger feels harmonious. It’s a simple, direct, time-only sports watch that does its best Jason Bourne impression. Meaning, it flies under the radar, but still packs a punch. Between the brushed case, flat marker application, and minimal dial text, there’s not a whole lot about the Ranger that calls attention to itself. You can’t help but feel that Tudor wanted this to be a watch that seamlessly fits into any situation, much like Rolex Explorer. Except the Explorer does the everyday watch thing with a bit more flare and deluxe fashion. The Explorer wouldn’t feel out of place in the field or paired with a tuxedo, just like James Bond. The Tudor Ranger on the other hand feels more like the everyday watch meant for casual activities that don’t require a bow tie and a slick jacket. Have you ever seen Jason Bourne in a tuxedo?

Bourne … Jason Bourne

The 39mm Tudor Ranger on a bracelet is attractively priced at $3,150 and offers up a whole lot of watch when you factor in the brand quality, model heritage, a T-Fit equipped steel bracelet and an in-house movement built-in with 70 hours of power reserve, silicon balance spring and a  COSC certification.

I made some bold statements in the Ranger vs. Explorer comparison video above. And one that I’m sure will garner a lot of comments is that I would like to see a Tudor Ranger in a slightly smaller case and closer in form to the original. Let’s call it 36mm to 37mm, and if we’re going to get a little wild, let’s throw in a date with a cyclops magnifier as well. Tudor already offers up the two-tone BB36 with the MT5400 movement, and the current MT5402 movement that’s in the 39mm Ranger is slightly smaller in width and thickness so this could theoretically be possible.

Chalk this up along with the rest of our inaccurate Tudor predictions that have graced these pages and the podcast, but I would be down with a 36mm Ranger with a cyclops date. So much so, that I would seriously consider having it sit next to the Explorer 14270 in the watch box. As for the 39mm Tudor Ranger, like the rest of its 39mm steel sports siblings, I think it’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future. Tudor


[VIDEO] Review: The 39mm Tudor Ranger Through the Eyes of a Rolex Explorer Owner

Stainless Steel
Calibre MT5402 (COSC)
Matte Black
Domed Sapphire Crystal
Stainless Steel Bracelet with T-Fit Clasp
Water Resistance
10 ATM
Lug Width
5 yr
Images from this post:
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Thomas is a budding writer and an avid photographer by way of San Diego, California. From his local surf break to mountain peaks and occasionally traveling to destinations off the beaten path, he is always searching for his next adventure, with a watch on wrist, and a camera in hand. Thomas is a watch enthusiast through and through; having a strong passion for their breadth of design, historical connection, and the stories that lie within each timepiece.