The Black Bay and Pelagos dive watches are two of the most dramatically successful vintage-inspired, and eminently affordable, dive watches anyone is producing today, and while they’re not the letter-perfect reboots of original vintage models that some would have preferred, we think Tudor’s been smart to keep a lot of the salient details of their vintage dive watches, but avoid rote repetition. The worst-case scenario for vintage-inspired watches in general is when designers add unwanted features that break the spell of immersion in history and heritage, thereby making you feel as if you just have to try too hard to love a watch you really want to love. The newest Black Bay from Tudor is now out, and in some ways it’s the most risky one yet: Tudor’s delivering it in bronze, which can be a dichotomizing metal to use in what’s supposed to be a classically inspired, unpretentious diver’s instrument watch.
This one, however, really looks like it’s going to work. Bronze cases can seem a bit of an affectation in modern diver’s watches but the material itself is perfectly respectable for marine applications (it’s good enough for hardhat diver’s helmets and propellers, after all; the chemical properties of bronze means it develops a surface coating that’s very hard and corrosion resistant and in some ways, it’s a better choice than stainless steel).
Tudor’s done some very handsome work with the Black Bay in the last few years; we’ve seen it with red, blue, and black bezels (the last, the Black Bay Black, especially attracting a lot of attention).
HODINKEE contributor John Mayer really dug the Black Bay especially, and the though again, they’re not every vintage dive watch lover’s brand of vodka, in general each one has opened to rave reviews.
So far, we really like what we see with the Black Bay Bronze. It’s cut to the same general pattern as the other Black Bays – snowflake hands; big crown; clean, clear-cut design. But this time around, we have a case in brushed aluminum-bronze alloy, with a brownish bezel and dial (“tropical” if you like) that really picks up both the color of the bezel and dial, and the gold coloration of the hands, absolutely beautifully. One big difference between this and other Black Bays is the case; another is the addition of numerals at 3,6, and 9. Another is that the lugs on this Black Bay are drilled (and as Mayer mentions in his Hands On, that is one thing we really wish we’d seen on previous BBs – better late than never).
The other big news is that this is the first version of the Black Bay that’s going to be offered with Tudor’s own in-house movement. The very first Tudor in-house movement was of course MT5621, which debuted in the Tudor North Flag, a watch that I liked very much, and which I think has been a bit overlooked thanks to its more easily digestible cousins.
The version of Tudor’s in-house movement used in the Black Bay Bronze is designated caliber MT5601. This is the third use of an in-house movement by Tudor; the second was caliber MT5612, which was introduced in the Pelagos at Basel 2015, and which had a smaller diameter than MT5621 (the North Flag version) and which also omitted the power reserve, but kept the date guichet. The caliber MT5601 is a bit larger in diameter, by contrast (how much larger, our current info doesn’t say, but we’ll update you as soon as we have that information). The larger size is apt, as the Black Bay Bronze is 2mm larger than preceding Black Bays – 43 mm for the BBB, as opposed to 41 mm for earlier models.
The Black Bay Bronze is going to be delivered with two strap choices: distressed leather, or a fabric strap; both will have bronze buckles. Our first impression from specs and press images is that the Black Bay Bronze has tremendous potential to be a very handsome watch, and with the latest iteration of Tudor’s in-house self-winding movement, a very practical one as well. Oh, and the pricing? 3,975. For a bronze case and in-house movement.
The Tudor Black Bay Bronze: case, 43 mm aluminum/bronze alloy, with bronze coated PVD stainless steel back. Bezel, unidirectional, bronze with anodized aluminum insert. Movement, Tudor caliber MT5601, 70-hour power reserve, amagnetic silicon balance spring with balance under balance bridge, bidirectional automatic. Price is $3,975. For more, check out Tudor Watch online.
You can follow us on our Baselworld journey on HODINKEE Live, which can be seen here.