The Tudor Ranger II, not exactly the most coveted watch out there. But I have a fascinating piece of lore that might make you see this design in a very different light. I propose that Tudor's Ranger II has been and inspiration, even a design playground, for the highly regarded Rolex Oysterquartz series in the 1970s. And I'll give you three pieces of evidence to make my case.
August 09, 2023
Tudor Ranger II - The Oysterquartz Inspiration?
Marcus Siems @siemswatches
Collector, Author, Data Analyst
The Tudor Ranger II, not exactly the most coveted watch out there. It's not the classic watch we'd list or go after either. It's definitely very 1970s. Some would even go as far and say it's "not Tudor's biggest success [both] visually and commercially"... Yet here we are, I'm writing about it. So let's get into the why of the story before we actually discuss the Ranger II itself.
That's today's topic: A very 1970s steel sports watch with a (somewhat) Oyster case - The Tudor Ranger II ref. 9111/0. Photo Courtesy of Kevin O'Dell @theydid.
I did an article about the Rolex Oysterquartz a couple weeks back. And in that article there was a detail that I kept ruminating about. It is regarding the Oysterquartz predecessor reference, the mechanic Rolex 1530 and its dial.
And through that dial detail came an epiphany: What if the Tudor Ranger II* has been an inspiration or even a testing ground for Rolex's - highly regarded - Oysterquartz? Say what!? ... Let me explain how I got to this fever dream of an hypothesis and make my case based on three pieces of evidence. It'll be about the design (1), the production (2), and other models featured by Tudor (3).
1) Overlapping design elements
The first pillar of my argument is appearance. Yes, at first glance The Ranger II is not exactly an Oysterquartz sibling but there are key design elements that do strongly overlap. In particular that is the dial's edge and rehaut. It's an element that's only common with the Oysterquartz (mechanic) predecessor reference 1530 (& 1630).
The direct comparison between the Tudor Ranger II ref. 9111/0 (left), the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date ref. 1530 (middle), and the classic Rolex Date ref. 15000. The pink inset shows the area of interest - the dial's edge. Photos Courtesy of Antiquorum and the Goldammer archives.
With the Oysterquartz it's typically about the case but this time it's the dial that's most interesting. Think about the classic Rolex Oysterdate dial (right) and you'll immediately see that the Rolex ref. 1530 (as well as the ref. 1630) is just different: a concave edge, almost completely covering the rehaut (see pink inset above).
That's the detail that kept giving encores in my mind after I finished the OQ article. That's what made me think twice about the story. It's strictly speaking something you won't find on another Rolex dial**. And I came to remember: I've only seen it on one other Rolex(-family) watch before... The Ranger II. The dial edge is exactly the uncommon commonality that sent me down that rabbit hole to research this reference and draw the connection to the Rolex OQ. Funnily, that detail was ultimately ditched in the final Oysterquartz design.
Take a closer look at the dial edge. It's concave almost entirely covering the rehaut. A peculiarity rarely seen on any other Rolex/Tudor. Photo Courtesy of Bulang & Sons.
We can actually also speak about the case and indeed that's not so different either. Ranger II and OQ both come with a more cushion-esque outline and integrated bracelets. In other words, two designs that clearly deviate from the classic Oyster case to feature a novel integrated (Oyster) bracelet style. But that's just appearance, there are even more dots to connect and evidence i can show you.
2) Preceding production runs
Well, for the Ranger II to be an inspiration or even a test-run for the final Oysterquartz design it would need to have been produced before Rolex introduced their OQs. The first Oysterquartz Datejust models date back to 1977 and their automatic design siblings (refs. 1530/1630) to 1975.
Interestingly, the two batches appear to dissociate in design too. The initial 1974 production run mainly features the classic Ranger dial (6-9-12 numerals, arrow hands) in black or blue. The later 1976/77 examples as well but they often came in wilder combination and deviations including bicolored (gold-plated) bezels, stripe hands, no numerals, lume dots and various colors. Photos Courtes of H.Q. Milton.
Drumroll... Dating the Tudor Ranger II examples - I identified so far - it seems that the collection was produced in (at least) two distinct production runs: The first in early 1974 (serials 814,7XX to 815,3XX) and another one in late 1976/early 1977 (serials 859,9XX to 860,9XX)***. Heureka, the Ranger II (1974) indeed was introduced before the Oysterquartz (1975/77) and thus my theory might still hold.
Additionally, the serial range also means that production of the Ranger II may not even have eclipsed 2,000 pieces. That's rare... or in other terms: not very successful. So given the overlapping dial architecture and design between the Rolex 1530 and the Ranger II it appears plausible to reconsider certain details if you wanna make a big splash with your first in-house flagship Quartz-watch (but that's really a speculation).
A vintage 1975 advertorial excerpt featuring the Tudor ref. 9101 with its slim engine-turning on the bezel. Interestingly, the ad goes into detail what's special about the case construction. Courtesy of BygoneMedia.
By the way, in this article I take the Ranger II as the archetype for the design by Tudor. However, other Tudor references have been using the same dial and case design in the mid-70s as well. This includes the reference 9101 with different dial and bezel style as well as the ref. 9211 featuring a diver/count-up bezel (and several smaller diameter references). Both of these references seem to have been in production even before the Ranger II starting in 1973.
3) Tudor's Oysterquartz
And now finally - why would I at all think that there's any connection between the Ranger II and the Rolex Oysterquartz? I'll answer with a counter question: Did you know there there's a Tudor Oysterquartz, too? Technically, it's called Prince-Quartz Oysterdate (ref. 9140) but you got exactly one guess how it looks like...
A 1978 Tudor advertorial featuring the ref. 9140 Prince-Quartz. The case was of particular pride to Tudor at the time.
4) Conclusion and coincidence detection
I laid out my case. My theory regarding Tudor's Ranger II inspiring the design of Rolex's Oysterquartz rests on three pillars. First, we got the extremely rare concave dial architecture, a detail that's uncommon to any other Rolex/Tudor blueprints. Second, Tudor did release the Ranger II (and similar designs) at least two years prior to Rolex's ref. 1530 and four years before their first Oysterquartz. Third, ultimately Tudor used the Ranger II design for its own Quartz watches starting in 1978. Taking these pieces of evidence together I assert that the Ranger II has been at least an influence for the final Oysterquartz (ref. 170XX) design.
From the right angle, with good light and a talent for photography the Tudor 9111/0 can actually look quite cool. It's not everybody's cup of tea but if you ask me it simply yells 1970s in your face. Photo Courtesy of Bulang & Sons.
However, so far the evidence is only coincidental. I cannot give you direct evidence that at the time there has been any sort of exchange between Tudor and Rolex about the design and how to encase their first Quartz models. I'm actually still awaiting the response from Tudor employees to hopefully reject or (what would be way cooler) confirm any of the points raised here. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder but the Ranger II design can objectively still be of tremendous historic value... Let's hopefully find out whether or not I can drop that question mark from the title.
* Here, it's about the Tudor Ranger II and other Tudor references following the same design blueprint. I take the Ranger II as probably the most prominent example from the bunch.
** The only that I'm aware of at least.
*** Those are the ranges I could identify from google and auction search, it is possible that models exist outside this serial ranges.
With a watch as rarely discussed as the Ranger II there's a bit of hive mind power included in this article. I'd like to give a shoutout to Kevin O'Dell from TheyDid and Bulang & Sons for visual aid, as well as Erik from Hairspringwatches and Tony Traina for valuable pointers.
 In-Depth - Re-Examining the Underestimated Tudor North Flag; Brice Goulard, Monochrome Watches;
 Rolex That Tick-Tock - A Quantitative Rolex Datejust Oysterquartz Guide; Marcus Siems, Goldammer Vintage Watches;
All Rights on the text and graphics reserved to the Author.