Tudor Black Bay - Review
Tudor Black Bay
Tudor is a really interesting company to consider when you look at the landscape of modern luxury watches. They are owned and operated by Rolex, traditionally Tudor watches were Rolex cases that had non-in-house movements. This was true up until the release of the Tudor North Flag that held one of Tudor’s new in-house movements. Before this happened Tudor was a way to get Rolex craftsmanship at a more accessible price point. There are even vintage Tudor Submariners out there that are using the same Sub case as the classic rolex, but just have a different movement inside. The Black Bay was released by Tudor in 2012, as part of the “Heritage Line,” alongside the Heritage Chrono and Advisor Alarm. The trend these days seems to be there vintage inspired pieces, and I can’t say that I am too bothered by it… Before we go any further lets dive into some specs:
Lug to Lug: 50.3mm
Case Thickness: 13.3mm
Weight on Bracelet: 5.9oz
Movement: ETA 2824
So for a few months I regularly wore a Rolex Explorer II (216570) and one of the things that I found really remarkable about that watch was the comfort of both the bracelet and the case. They were expertly proportioned to wear for a long time and that really showed in how unobtrusive of a watch it was to daily wear. I bring that up because I have found the Black Bay to be exactly the same. It has a thin case (for a diver) that rides low and close to your wrist, and the bracelet links are perfectly proportioned to to execute a very effective drape across your wrist.
So the movement in the Black Bay is plain, BUT that's kind of the point when it comes to Tudor... They were/are the worker man's Rolex (in as much as any luxury swiss watch could be) they were the lower budget access point for Rolex's craftsmanship and form factor. SO, without beating a very dead horse deader... It's an ETA 2824, it's like a bowl of vanilla ice cream... perfect in every way, but with zero embellishments. According to hairspring (the iphone app) it's keeping -3.2s/day, can't complain there.
Dial, Bezel, and Crystal:
So, I LOVE the way this watch reads. I've also come to really love having a snowflake hour hand, I've found that the actually reading of the watch becomes very fast, the hour hand locates the time of the day that you're in, and then you just need to read the minute hand. That was the whole purpose behind the snowflake and mercedes hour hands, fast time acquisition. The Heritage Black Bay has a gilt dial, meaning gold text and accents on the dial. I only mention that because before doing my research I wasn’t sure what a “Gilt” dial was. The crystal is a slightly domed sapphire crystal that is raised above the bezel slightly. It’s a nice balance between being domed, and AR coated making it both readable and aesthetically pleasing. Lastly the bezel is one of the things that sets off the Black Bay, different colors of aluminum disks set into the 60-click bezel. 60 clicks is interesting for a bezel, it essentially means that each click will align with a minute marker. Most watches that I’ve had in the past have had 120 click bezels which are a little more precise, but for rudimentary timing purposes the BB’s bezel does what I need it to.
My Black Bay came on the steel bracelet, they are also available on a nice vintage leather strap, and they come bundled with an extremely well made NATO strap. I don’t have the NATO myself, I bought my watch on the secondary, but I’ve checked them out at my local AD and I’d buy one. From what I can tell they are made by the same company that makes the Pope’s robes? That’s pretty slick. The steel on the other hand is REALLY nice… The modern generations of Rolex’s oyster bracelets are really amazing. Comfortable, solid, and really versatile. The oyster is something that looks equally at home under a dress shirt, as it does on a bare wrist next to jeans.
I've really enjoyed my time with the Tudor Black Bay. The build quality is second to none, the time keeping has been without reproach, and the practicality/comfort of the piece is exactly what it should be. Tudors, in particular the ETA version, represent enormous values for the burgeoning watch collector. It's a good way to get into Rolex's craftsmanship and form factor without having to spend full-on Rolex money. I really can't recommend them enough, and I suggest you shoot over to Watchrecon to see what you can grab one for.
Literally minutes after finishing this review I was whisked off on a surprise 30th Birthday trip by my wife and parents. As you'd assume I had the Black Bay on my wrist and it was along for the ride. Over the course of the next week it crossed three time zones, coordinated dicey flight changes, timed critical french press steep times, dove to the bottom of the Caribbean Ocean after seashells, and made sure we weren't late for dinner. After all that I came home knowing that the BB would be a fixture in my collection for some time to come. I STILL couldn't be more pleased by this piece. It's quirky, with the red bezel and crown tube, classic with its gilt dial and markers, and it's quality with Rolex's commitment to fine craftsmanship being passed onto Tudor. Get one of these, if you can... It will serve you well.