Essential Macau | The right hands

There are details that go unnoticed to most mere mortals but which can still be an important distinguishing element in the construction of a brand’s image. The “snowflake” hands are one of those cases. Created 50 years ago, they are now one of the most distinctive elements of Tudor

By César Brigante

Tudor launched its first diving watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner, in 1954, just one year after Rolex, its sister brand, presented its Submariner. The watch, christened with the reference 7922, would become the precursor of a type of watch that would greatly contribute to the prestige of the brand.

With a 37mm case, it held all the ingredients that were considered indispensable in a watch for diving professionals: durability, reliability, precision and water-tightness of up to 100 metres. All of these technical qualities, combined with a very appealing price tag, were the reasons that contributed toward the popularity of this instrument in the professional field for which it had been conceived. The Submariner evolved at the speed of the small improvements, which culminated in the reference 7928, launched in the second half of the 1960s. Its main adjustments were the round crown guards and astonishing water-tightness that reached 200 metres.

The year 1969 marked the birth of the second generation of the Tudor Submariner, with the introduction of two new references – the 7016 and the 7021. Besides the new calibers, for the first time, the dials featured square markers and hands that, due to their unusual shape, would later be known as “snowflakes” among collectors and enthusiasts. By the ‘90s, the watch became known as the “snowflake” Submariner, because it looked vaguely like a flake of snow. Actually, it was the need to create the largest surface possible so that the luminescent material could be applied and subsequently legible (indispensable in this type of watch) that gave it this appearance, which is today one of the main trademarks of the Swiss brand. Used exclusively in Tudor’s diving watches, adopted by the diving teams of some of the world’s most powerful navies, the “snowflake” configuration was abandoned in the mid-‘80s and returned in 2012 as a key design element in two of Tudor’s main lines, Black Bay and Pelagos, which continue the Submariner legacy.