Tudor North Flag Review
It has been the view of many that Tudor was, perhaps, a "poor man's Rolex" (silly, given that these watches are in no way second tier), but recently the brand has come into its own, leaving the Submariner-inspired designs with direct Rolex heritage behind. The first of this new line is the North Flag, which brings together a unique design language and an in-house movement design marking Tudor’s independence from Rolex.
They nailed it.
Case & Fit
The North Flag measures in at a healthy 40mm diameter with a lug to lug width of 48mm, making it very comfortable on nearly any wrist size (including my small 6.5” wrist). The case design has a sort of modern, scientific feel to it; with clean cut edges and bold lines. The case transitions smoothly into the integrated lugs (more on that later), flowing nicely into the bracelet.
The back of the case features a display back to show off the MT5621, Tudor’s first in house movement.The inclusion of the display back is clearly to highlight the release of the MT5621, a great achievement by Tudor. While the movement isn’t particularly eye catching or blingy, it is interesting to get a glimpse at the beating heart of the North Flag.
The case rides slim on the wrist, but still has that nice tool watch presence that we all know and love. The entire case is done in a fine brushed finish, which adds to the tool watch style, and is something that I appreciated very much. All too often you see a watch advertised as a “tool watch”, when it has polished case accents, or a polished center link on its bracelet. The North Flag makes no such deviations of purpose and is finished according to its intended use: smooth, classy, and unabashedly utilitarian.
This is where the North Flag truly impresses. As mentioned earlier, the North Flag houses Tudor’s first in-house movement, the Calibre MT5621. The MT5621 is an automatic movement that is chronometer certified, with 28 jewels and a power reserve of 70 hours. The movement is regulated by a “variable inertia oscillator” with a silicon balance spring, oscillating at a frequency of 28,800 beats/hour or 4hz.
For their first in-house movement, Tudor really brought the heat. Throughout my ownership, it has kept excellent time, and the 70 hour power reserve has been an excellent feature for me as someone who likes to swap between multiple watches throughout the week.
After the release of the North Flag, Tudor has slowly rolled the MT5621 out to multiple other pieces in the lineup including the Black Bay and Pelagos. It will be interesting to see the evolution of the MT5621 in Tudor’s line and future models, as well as how the new movement will serve as a platform for growth and innovation for the company.
Dial, Crystal & Bezel
The dial on the North Flag is extremely legible. With a matte black backdrop and bright white markers and hands, there are no diversions to distract from reading the time. One thing that is difficult to notice unless you have the watch in hand, is the amazing amount of depth that the indices add to the dial. Each hour indice has an impressive height to it, that seems to rise up towards the crystal. That combined with the beveled date window and chapter ring, adds a pleasing degree of personality and depth to the North Flag’s otherwise clean dial design. Less is more in this case, and the North Flag succeeds in creating a minimalist design.
Adding to the character and style of the North Flag is Tudor’s careful use of yellow accents. I know that the use of colors like yellow, orange, red, etc, can be a source of debate on watch forums about being too flashy. However, on the North Flag, I find that the yellow perfectly accents and elevates its clean, minimalist look. Along the chapter ring, there are yellow accents at each hour marker, and complementing that is the yellow seconds hand, and yellow accented power reserve. In my opinion, this is an excellent use of color and adds a particular kind of sportiness to the watch that makes it fun to wear in any environment.
The North Flag is features a brushed stainless steel, fixed bezel lined with a matte ceramic ring linking it to the rest of the case design - an interesting choice by Tudor, but one which suits the watch well. It helps to separate the bezel from the rest of the case, and when looking at the watch dead on, gives additional depth and height to the dial.
Rounding out the face of the watch is a flat, AR coated sapphire crystal. Nothing too crazy here, but I do like Tudor’s choice to keep this as a flat crystal, rather than a domed. The use of a flat crystal helps to pull together the rest of the angular, sharp, scientific design of the North Flag.
The North Flag is offered in two configurations, either with the bracelet, or a black leather strap. This watch features integrated lugs, which will make other strap options difficult. Other than the two OEM strap options designed for the watch, your options are fairly limited. You can also fit the Tudor Pelagos rubber dive strap into the North Flag lugs, but there’s no chance for something like a NATO strap on the North Flag, which might be an issue for some.
That said, the bracelet is spectacular. I’m a huge fan of bracelets, and this is a great one. The links are an “H” design, which I think adds a cool design touch, and the bracelet tapers down from the case towards the clasp. Adjusting this bracelet is quick and easy thanks to screw in links, and there are three micro-adjusts on the clasp to fine tune the fit to your wrist.
The clasp on the North Flag is one of my favorite clasps I’ve tried to date. When operating the clasp, you’ll find that it has a great amount of tactile feedback, and a satisfying click. This is thanks to the use of ceramic detents to hold everything in place - a nice touch.
Overall, the bracelet is comfortable for daily wear, although I do find myself longing for more strap options.
While the North Flag hasn’t received the same fanfare as other Tudor watches such as the Black Bay or the Pelagos, I believe it to be a great part of the Tudor line-up. From it’s clean, legible design, to its splashes of color, the North Flag has established itself firmly as one of my favorite watches and my go-to whether I’m on the way to the office or out doing some exploring of my own.
As with most things (and especially watches), people seem to take it as sport to find something to complain about, and the North Flag is no exception - the majority of complaints around the North Flag involve the use of integrated lugs. To me, this isn’t a deal breaker, and does not take away from the utility or use of the watch in any way. While I prefer having the option for easy strap changes, the well made bracelet more than satisfies me.
Quite simply, the Tudor North Flag is one of the best watches I’ve had the opportunity to own and wear. It’s a no-nonsense, everyday watch that will get you through any of your day-to-day adventures, from the office to the North Pole, and look great doing it. Highly, highly recommended.