Value Proposition: 7996 Tudor Oysterdate Ranger
A ‘first’ in anything remotely tied to Wilsdorf, whether coronet or rose, tends to attract attention and huge premiums. However, there are exceptions to every rule. With enough niche subcategorizations, anything can be said to be unique; that’s not what I’m arguing here. What I am arguing, with a little alochol-induced scholarship, is that I don’t see why the Tudor Ranger isn’t hyped today. I mean, it isn’t even blipping on the hype-radar. Yet, the Ranger has a unique Explorer-adjacent dial, Oyster case, many naunced changes between and inter-reference, real history, and charm. Yet many may still be found today for fractions of a period 1016’s valuation. Let explore.
The Ranger dial first a-rose (get it?) in the reference 7965, an evolution of the earlier 7809 used in the British North Greenland Expedition of 1952. Not one to miss a good marketing opportunity, Hans Wilsdorf created ads titled ‘Oyster Prince roughs it in Greenland’ and circulated them widely. People started craving water resistance and a 3-6-9 configuration. The 7965 was an Oyster case with an ETA calibre, no date. All seems fairly straightforward at this point, but I promise you it isn’t. See, the Ranger is not just one specific evolution of references. Rather, it is a dial variation that surfaced in multiple references in different time periods. The 7964, 7966, 7990, 7992, 7995, 7996, 90330 and 90220 can all be considered to be proper Ranger dials, though only the later 1980s 90330 and 90220 are actual Ranger models. This list is not exhaustive and data points are being created daily by people without friends or social engagements, much like myself.
So why do I say this is a first? Well, to the best of my knowledge, the 7996 was the first ‘allowable’ Oysterdate Ranger-dial reference with a date. This was the first (mildly) complicated Ranger. It even featured the hallmark cyclops over 3. It was powered by an ETA 2484, a non-quickset date. It saw an extremely short production run, from 1965-1966. For those who know Rolex, that means rare. And yet, for all these points of strong character, no one really seems eager to sing the praises of this or (for the mostpart) indeed any other Ranger. If you want a strong value entry into sports Rolex-ish steel, you could do far worse.
This example is made more attractive by a roulette date wheel, marking it out as one of the earlier production batches (at some point mid 60s, Tudor went to an all-black date wheel). Furthermore, it has a lovely dial with an even cream patina. That same tritium tone exists in the handset, one which is wholly intact. Often the very large shovel plots on the hour hand tend to give way and collapse. Not so here. Its case is full with moderate surface wear throughout, but better for it in my opinion. It comes on an original stretch rivet bracelet, quite rare itself, from a small, well-regarded NY-based retailer.
Find this 7996 Ranger here from Collectors Corner NY for 10900 USD.