The biggest news story of Tudor’s 2023 launches is not one single watch, nor a new collection, but the grand opening of its new manufacture in Le Locle.
For almost a century, Tudor has shared the Geneva headquarters of its big brother Rolex, tucked into corners of the Swiss giant’s vast building, but it has finally flown the nest to establish its own dedicated home and production facility.
There are several key points to this big move beyond the benefits of greater independence – more on that when we pay the manufacture a visit later this year – but the headline is that Tudor now has a dedicated floor for METAS testing, the process of certification for mechanical watches carried out by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology.
It ensures superior build quality and movement performance by rigorously testing the likes of precision, resistance to magnetic fields, waterproofness and power reserve.
Tudor has invested heavily in new technologies, including state-of-the-art robotics unlike anything else in the industry, to ensure that this testing can be fully automated and operated 24/7.
The grand plan? That all Tudor watches will one day be METAS Master Chronometer certified. This is step one of reaching that lofty goal.
Fresh out of the new Le Locle factory is the new and improved Black Bay with burgundy bezel. First launched in 2012 as the first ever Black Bay reference, and relaunched in 2016 with Tudor’s first in-house movement, the MT5602, the new-look Black Bay with burgundy bezel takes the winning formula of its predecessors and refines its aesthetic along with the hardware under the hood.
Let’s start with the movement. The MT5602-U boasts the previously mentioned METAS Master Chronometer certification, which means you have all the bells and whistles you could possibly ask for in the pursuit of reliability, and 70 hours of power reserve to play with to boot.
Elsewhere, there’s a curvier, slimmer case, polished edges on the case side (previously brushed), a redesigned screw-down crown, and the teeth of the bezel are now wider apart and slightly jut out beyond the case for improved grip.
Even better, this version is 1.3mm thinner than the 2016 iteration and wears much more comfortably as a result.
There’s also a new lollipop second hand rather than the old snowflake design, a slightly tapered ‘pencil’ minute hand, and the option of Tudor’s rubber strap with T-Fit adjustable clasp that we first saw last year on the Black Bay Pro or a five-link jubilee bracelet that debuted on the Black Bay S&G from 2019. These are small tweaks, a natural progression of Tudor’s design codes, but the end result is the most sophisticated rendition of the Black Bay to date.
Living on its own and with a brand-new style? Tudor’s all grown up.
Black Bay 54
This lovely little thing is the closest Tudor has ever come to creating a reissue of a historic reference. Now, the brand hasn’t quite gone as far as calling it that, but it makes no bones about the fact that this watch pays homage to Tudor’s first ever diving watch, the ref 7922, launched in 1954.
This timepiece was never launched commercially, indeed it was commissioned by the French Navy to be utilised by its diving squads, but it ignited a passion for the dive watch style that remains an integral part of the watchmaker’s contemporary collections.
The Black Bay 54, in the same vein as the newly refreshed Black Bay above, features several tweaks to Tudor’s aesthetic codes – a curvier, slimmer case, new hands, and improved bezel and crown designs – but the big point of difference is the new 37mm case.
Fans of vintage dive watches will be delighted with the ‘historically appropriate’ sizing. Customers can now choose between the 37mm Black Bay 54, the 39mm Black Bay 58, and the original 41mm Black Bay, unquestionably strengthening Tudor’s offering.
Inside the beating heart of the 54 is Tudor's manufacture MT5400 movement, which boasts COSC certification (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute), and offers ample accuracy and reliability, along with 70 hours of power reserve. ‘Small but mighty’ comes to mind.
Black Bay GMT
First launched in 2018, Tudor has breathed fresh life into the Black Bay GMT with a new opaline dial.
Otherwise all other functions and design notes are the same – which means, 41mm steel case, a "Pepsi" bezel, and the ever-so dependable MT562 manufacture calibre ticking along at its heart.
Sometimes known as a Polar dial – see Rolex’s beloved Polar Explorer II – this latest addition to Tudor’s range might be a small cosmetic change, but expect it to be very popular with collectors.
The Royal collection might not have quite the same street cred as the Black Bay collection, but we have it on good authority that it sells like veritable hotcakes.
That might have something to do with the prices starting at a shade under £2k with plenty of watch for your buck…
The collection is offered in four case sizes – 28mm, 34mm, 38mm, and 41mm – and now comes with two new dial variations, a warm chocolate brown and a metallic salmon.
This is the first time a modern Tudor has featured a salmon dial. In fact, it might be the first time Tudor has ever created a salmon dial. That fact alone was enough to raise our eyebrows.
Black Bay ‘Fixed Bezel’
The slightly sportier brother of the original Black Bay, featuring a fixed bezel in place of a 60-minute unidirectional bezel, this variant comes in four sizes (31mm, 36mm, 39mm, 41mm) and for the first time features in-house COSC-certified movements across the range.
There’s also three new dials to enjoy – champagne, anthracite, and blue, each featuring a subtle sunray effect.