Few watches will ever experience the fame that the Daytona has gathered in its recent few decades. Perhaps the Nautilus and Royal Oak have seen similar ascensions, but that’s all I can think of with a massive 10 seconds of thought dedicated to the effort. However, there are no other in-house, ‘simplified’ Nautilus (don’t you dare say Aquanaut) or Royal Oak alternatives. Rolex have Tudor. Thank god for that.
By association, one now sees early Tudor enjoying the same flux in attention. Very recently, however, I’ve started to find vintage Tudor almost more appealing than their big-brother counterparts. Here’s a quickly understandable analogue—pardon the overused car connection. If you’re a JDM enthusiast, the R34 GTR is the aspirational collector’s item. Collectable in this context should read ‘almost prohibitively expensive’. Most people comfort themselves and achieve ninety-percent of the R34 thrill through owning a 350Z. No one would ever compare the two directly, but the 350Z is still appealing in a relaxed way. One still has to enjoy JDM deeply to own one. You want to be the guy who has an R34 tucked away but still maintains enough enthusiasm to get excited when seeing a 350Z in the wild. The lack of aspirational collectability means the 350Z actually gets used on the daily, which is its strength. There’s something undeniably cool in dependable use. Do you see what I’m getting at? The analogy writes itself.
Not often discussed, Big Blocks were the Wilsdorf group’s first self-wound chronographs—a good decade ahead of Rolex. To accommodate the rotor, Rolex’s classic Daytona Oyster case needed to get what the kids call thicc. This is where the Big Block moniker comes from. The 94300 series introduced the movement while this 79100 updated the design. Just as Rolex differentiated their Daytona references by bezel type, so too did Tudor. The Big Block series 2 was delineated by three bezel types: the 79160 black plastic tachymeter, 79180 steel tachymeter, and this 79170 black 12-hour. The 12-hour is the rarest and cleanest of the three. The dial is one of the more common variants, a non-exotic panda. This is one of the more aesthetic chronographs under Rolex or Tudor to my eye. As a bonus, one has to hold a relatively deep love of all watches to appreciate it. No one buys a Tudor for its shield/rose at 12 and that’s a good thing.
This example is quite good all things considered. The case is sharp and appears unpolished. It is on a correct period bracelet in matching condition. The 12 hour insert sports a marginal dark-blue ghosting with strong overall presentation. The dial is relatively strong. There is no blemish in but the still-white tritium (matched across its hands) has disintegrated at 6, 7, and 8. There are no box or papers mentioned. It comes from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 79170 here from Grey & Patina for 8200 USD.