There has been a lot of talk about the North Flag, so I figured now that I have a little time on my hands with it I'd give a sort of first impressions review.
I wanted to provide a few comparisons also.
The similarity to the Ranger / Explorer is definitely there, despite being a watch with a date and power reserve. It is very straightforward and clean cut.
First things first, I'm big on how a watch feels, and the North Flag is no slacker. The watch is incredibly solid, and is actually heavier and thicker than any of the other watches I compared here. It is thicker than the ranger or the Explorer, and while not dramatically more than the Milgauss I have on it seems to wear a little thicker due to the straight lines. The North Flag also feels ever so slightly more weighted towards the head of the watch, where the Explorer and Milgauss feel more evenly distributed between case and bracelet. Maybe it's my imagination, but it has just a little denser feeling. That being said, it wears very comfortably. It's 40mm, but it feels a little smaller than even the 39mm Explorer I on the wrist.
Rolex Explorer I: 138g, 11.3mm thick
Rolex Milgauss GV: 158g 13.1mm thick
Tudor Ranger: 159g, 12.2mm thick
Tudor North Flag: 161g, 13.4mm thick
This is a side by side shot of the North Flag and the Explorer 1.
Under the sleeve of a normal dress shirt, here is the North Flag, Ranger, and Explorer 1.
Unapologetically utilitarian, the bracelet on the North Flag is actually quite handsome in person. There's a little more space between the links than I expected, and they are not beveled or chamfered whatsoever on the edges. This all adds up to a geometric, simple look that flashes evenly in the light. If I had designed it myself I'd have rounded out the edges some, but it's hard to argue that this flat approach adds to the "tool watch" feel. Along these same lines is the finish of the watch: Every surface is brush finished. Where many watches in the Rolex and Tudor lines have brushed links with polished sides, alternating finishes on the backs, etc. the North Flag is basically uninterrupted flat right down to the matte ceramic bezel.
Personally, I felt like this particular element seemed like an odd choice at first, but after examination I see that it's almost necessary to add that splash of contrast. A fluted bezel would not have fit the watch's character, and while I'd have loved a riveted or screwed in Ingenieur style bezel personally, it would be hard to encourage ripping off IWC or AP. A Sub-esque ceramic bezel could have been a nice touch, but again I have to respect Tudor for going with something a little different from what they have done in the past. My only real criticism of the bezel is that it does seem to stand very tall as I mentioned earlier. You're probably not going to wear the North Flag with French cuffs anyway, but personally I'd have preferred a lower profile. Thick watches can be great, this one just feels a little unneeded.
The winding crown is oddly elongated, and I'm still not sure why. All I can say here is that while it's probably twice as long as anything else, it isn't that bad overall.
Downright big hands and stark applied indices compliment a matte dial for excellent legibility. Even the Ranger-esque arrow hour hand has been straightened out and dialed back a notch from its vintage themed sibling, and makes for a marked improvement over it in my opinion. The super flat crystal is recessed flush with the bezel rather than being set slightly above or domed. It loses a little in depth, but does make you feel like it's slightly more rugged and protected. Honestly I don't know if it makes any quantifiable difference at all for everyday wear.
Would I personally wear it? Where the Ranger has a very definite vintage charm, and the Heritage Chrono is just a darned cool watch the North Flag's niche is as a true tool watch, and I could definitely recommend it for someone wanting one. That being said, I'm still a little on the fence about it overall. There's a lot here to love, there's a few places I feel like small changes could have stepped it up from good to great. That being said, when you factor in the in house movement w/ 70h power reserve and the relatively unique design, it's a tremendous value proposition in its price-point. It would be easy to say that I'd rather wear an Explorer 1, but for half the money I'd say the North Flag's greatest competition as far as a quality watch for your money would be probably a different Tudor.
Whether it grows on me to become a truly viable option or not, it is undeniably a very cool, very nice watch. As a final note, I like that in spite of mass appeal, it kinda gives a subtle nod to the watch nerd community. "Here's an affordable tool watch with an in house movement that is inspired by an obscure vintage watch" it seems to say "what's not to love?"