The Tudor Submariner was used by the French Navy – especially by the Groupe de Plongeurs Démineurs founded in 1955 – from the mid 1950’s to the early 1980’s.
Most probably, this watch was chosen of course because of its quality but also because of its cost, which was much lower than the Rolex equivalent. The Rolex Submariner has also been used by special units, but in a very limited number.
The most famous Tudor "MN" Submariner is the snowflake blue dial 1970’s ref. 94010, but lots of different references have been used by the French Navy.
Here’s a list of the Submariner models used by the Marine Nationale :
– Non crown guards Submariner Big Crown ref. 7922 in the late 1950’s. Collectors are sometimes confused because there is also a "thin case" Submariner with same reference, that uses a 6mm cown and has both the reference and serial numbers engraved on the outside caseback… but the 7922 BC is a completely different watch: it has a thicker case, a 8mm Brevet crown and "Brevet + 7922" engraved between the lugs. I have never seen a "civilian" version of this watch (i.e. sold by an AD), only watches from a military source. This model may be a prototype developed by Rolex especially on the French Navy’s request. All the watches that I have seen had Rolex 6538 casebacks and a serial number in the 140,XXX range (I have seen some watches without any serial number). There are 7922 BC’s with both 100m and 200m dials, it is very hard to determine if there is a "correct dial" for this watch; on one hand a 200m dial seems to make sense on a Submariner with a big crown, on the other hand the mid 1950’s seem very early for a 200m waterproof Tudor, especially if this was the first Submariner manufactured by the brand. To make things even more complicated, the navy had their own watchmakers and their own stock of parts: dials from one model may have been put on another one during service…
Tudor 7922 Big Crown (Photo: Maurits)
– Non crown guards Submariner Big Crown ref. 7924 in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. All the watches that I have seen had a serial number in the 275,XXX range and a caseback stamped with the IV 1958 date code. I have seen 7924’s from a "civilian" batch with serials numbers in the 295,XXX range a 1959 date code. There are at least four different types of casebacks for the 7924: one type without any outside engraving and three types with various kinds of outside circular engraving.
Tudor 7924 (Photo: Maurits)
– Square crown guards Submariner ref. 7928 in the early 1960’s, with a serial number in the 305,XXX range and the inside caseback stamped with the 1959 date code.
Square Crown Guards Tudor 7928
– ,www.chrono2u.com; Pointed and rounded crown guards Submariner ref. 7928 in the early to mid 1960’s
– Submariner Ref. 7016/0 in 1974 with a black dial and a typical flat caseback. The serial number is in the 6 to 8XX,XXX range. The black dials of these watches rapidly showed sign of wear and were replaced by blue dials after only one year.
– Submariner Ref. 94010 with blue dials and snowflake hands between 1975 and 1982, with serial numbers in the 8XX to 1,XXX,XXX range.
Tudor 94010 M.N. 77
– Submariner 94010 with blue dials, round markers and Mercedes hands in 1983
Tudor 94010 M.N. 83 (Photo: Finertimes)
I have never seen a Tudor used by the French Navy after 1983…
Of course the informations given here are not "official" – as these watches are poorly documented – but only the result of my observations. I would be happy to learn more or be corrected by other Tudor enthusiasts.
For DrStrong’s original post in Rolex forum, please CLICK HERE