Snowflake Needle Let Tudor Watch Out Of Rolex’s Shadow

1969 was a crucial year in the history of watchmaking. This year, the successful landing of humans on the moon made the OMEGA Speedmaster a symbol; this year, we ushered in the first automatic chronograph; this year, Tudor introduced the now famous snowflake hand ( SnowflakeHands).

   Although watch enthusiasts have different opinions on this design, after 50 years of baptism, the Tudor snowflake hand has become a signature feature of the brand’s sports timepieces, and has gained many loyal fans. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the Tudor snowflake needle, in this article we will review its origin story, military origin, and its profound impact on the brand.

Tudor product catalog from 1969 to 1970, including the first watch model with snowflake hands

Origin story



1954 Tudor OysterPrinceSubmariner Ref.7922

   The first generation of the Tudor OysterPrinceSubmariner was born in 1954, one year after the launch of the Submariner (submarine) by sister brand Rolex. The main difference between the Tudor Ref.7922 and the Rolex Submariner is that the former is equipped with an ETA movement, but the two sides have many similarities, including the case design, screw-in crown, black diving bezel and Mercedes. pointer.

1969 Tudor OysterPrinceSubmarinerRef.7021 watch with snowflake hands and red and black alternate date display

   In 1969, the second-generation Tudor watch OysterPrinceSubmariner entered the stage of history. The new watch features unusual snowflake hands and square hour markers and is available to consumers in two models: Ref. 7016 which only displays the time and Ref. 7021 which additionally displays the date. This is the first step towards a completely new design for Tudor.

1973 Tudor OysterPrinceSubmariner Ref. 7021 Advertising

Military origin

   The new dial design not only distinguishes Tudor from Rolex, but also brings functional upgrades to diving users. Although Tudor officially claims that the brand’s largest customer, the Marine Nationale, has only selected existing models from the product catalog, many collectors speculate that the French Navy has worked more closely with Tudor to help develop unique dial designs .

Tudor OysterPrinceSubmariner ‘MarineNationale’ Watch

   The resulting angular hands and square hour markers can help divers to distinguish more quickly. At the same time, the hands and time scales expand the surface area and coat more fluorescent materials, so they can provide better readability in dark environments.

Tudor OysterPrinceSubmariner ‘MarineNationale’ Watch

   Until the mid-2000s, the Tudor OysterPrinceSubmariner watch has been widely used by French Navy divers. We can also see it on the wrists of navy divers in the United States, Canada and Italy.

Forever vitality

   Because the look looks like a partial snowflake, collectors in the 1990s gave the pointer a ‘snowflake needle’ nickname. Later, the name was officially adopted by Tudor watches and is still in use today.

Snowflake hour hand style

   The advent of the OysterPrinceSubmariner watch represents an important step for Tudor as an independent brand. With the release of the new watch, Tudor’s unique pointer and hour design, and the new shield logo (replacing the original rose logo) debut. All these design differences bring a new identity to the brand and also mark the true separation of Tudor and Rolex.

Biwan Snowflake Hour Hand

Carry on


Tudor collar submersible snowflake hour and second hands

Tudor Collar Submersible Snowflake Needle Fluorescent Effect

   Just as the Mercedes hands are the hallmark of Rolex diving watches, the snowflake hands are also the most recognizable design feature of Tudor watches. Today, the early OysterPrinceSubmariner watch is loved by collectors, and the unique pointer and hour marker design has also been inherited and carried forward by the submersible and Biwan models.

Biwan Chronograph Snowflake Hour Hand

Green Bay Greenwich 24-Hour Snowflake Hand

   The iconic snowflake needle was originally a functional upgrade for navy divers, but it finally helped Tudor get out of Rolex’s shadow and become a world-renowned watchmaking brand that is equally popular but more affordable. (Photo / text watch home compiled by Xu Chaoyang)