Cast your mind back to Basel in 2016 – and the talk of the town was Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay Bronze.
This launch from Rolex’s plucky younger sibling had watch journalists in raptures.
A Black Bay… in bronze? Baselworld doesn't do prize givings, but if it did, this would have picked up ‘Best in Show’.
Of course, that bronze watch has not only gone on to become an icon in its own right but it set off a chain reaction with every watch manufacturer in the same sector going on to launch bronze equivalents over subsequent years – such is the influence of this forward-thinking watch brand.
That said, it wasn’t really a forward-thinking move, but rather a retrospective tribute. The first known pocket watch made in bronze dates back to 1574; and the first bronze-cased wristwatch of the modern era was made by none other than design god Gerald Genta with his 1990s Gefica. And when it comes to diving, bronze is as old as time.
Fast forward to 2021, and Tudor has decided to shake things up again. No longer satisfied with bronze, it’s claimed silver and gold, too. And taupe. Don’t forget taupe…
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925
Who knew you could get excited about taupe? ‘Grey with a tinge of brown’ does not usually get one’s juices flowing. But when applied to Tudor’s iconic Black Bay Fifty-Eight, consider our interest well and truly piqued.
Especially, as in the case of the new Fifty-Eight 925, it is complemented by a new satin-finish 925 silver case.
A silver case? As in that soft metal off Antiques Roadshow which tarnishes really easily… on a dive watch? Well yes. And no.
For starters, Tudor has added some alloy magic that will ensure it’s tougher and won’t tarnish. The 925 relates to 92.5% silver; the remaining 7.5% is where the magic happens. What that magic is, Tudor will never tell you. Or if they did, they’d have to kill you. But it chemically stabilises the metal to ensure it won’t corrode.
Just with the Black Bay Bronze, there is form when it comes to silver. From its first development in 16th-century pocket watches to First World War trench watches, silver has been used in watchmaking for centuries. And as with the Black Bay Bronze, Tudor has simply made it cool again. (Expect a slew of Silver Watches to come from other brands from 2022.)
It’s also the first Tudor dive watch with an open case back, so you get to see that rock-hard Manufacture Calibre MT5400, which is usually hidden beneath.
It’s loaded with a silicon hairspring and a 70-hour power reserve. And as was the case with the first Tudor dive watch made in 1958, this new model will be waterproof to 200m.
£3,230. Discover more.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K
OK, you guys are killing us. Just when you think Tudor might do something predictable (pah!), it launches a Black Bay in 18K gold, too?
This is big news – for a start, it’s the first 18K solid gold Tudor has ever made. It's also the first time gold has been used on indices and hands in Tudor’s history.
It’s taking Tudor into a whole new price range and market. At £12,610, this is big bucks for a Black Bay. But then compare it to an 18K Submariner from Rolex, and it’s still an absolute bargain. Not to mention, it will be a much rarer sight.
As with all Tudors, it’s not too ostentatious, either. The 39mm size helps; but crucially it’s all the mattification that really does the trick. The brushed effect on the gold removes any notions of bling.
The metal is deliciously matched with this season’s colour du jour, green. The colour of money has always looked great with gold – just ask Rolex – and this combo is sure to excite collectors. (The limited edition Harrods Black Bay with its green dial is arguably the most collectible Black Bay yet.)
Yes, the idea of a dive watch in gold – or indeed silver – seems almost paradoxical, but let’s face it, is anyone really going diving in either of these watches?
£12,610. Discover more.
Tudor Black Bay Chronograph
The panda dial is a watch industry failsafe. There are few watches that don’t look cooler once the designers have pressed ‘invert’. And Tudor’s new steel Black Bay Chrono is a case in point.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand’s first chronograph, Tudor has rebooted its already awesome Chrono with the choice of white-on-black or black-on-white contrasting subcounters. Both look great; but the panda edges it in our book.
The Chrono has had much more than just a paint job, though. There’s a reworked case – it’s thinner than its predecessor; there’s a new fixed bezel with a black aluminium disk; and there are three strap options – including an updated riveted steel affair.
The bund strap is our pick – it’s so Paul Newman you can’t believe that Rolex even let them get away with it
The bund strap is our pick – it’s so Paul Newman you can’t believe that Rolex even let them get away with it.
But that’s Tudor all over: Rolex’s naughty younger brother defying expectations and pushing boundaries.
They say life begins at 50. It seems Tudor’s Chrono is only just getting started.
From £3,660. Discover more.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic
You know that kid who was really cool at school yet somehow got straight A stars.
He was one of those guys who could pull all the girls and pull off a leather jacket. He was lead singer in the band and played fly-half for the 1st XV. Yet somehow he managed to ace calculus, too.
The Tudor Black Bay Ceramic is that kid.
With the new Black Bay Ceramic, Tudor has made one of its coolest watches yet. That matte black ceramic finish; the black sunray dial; the black hybrid leather and rubber strap – it’s just cool. In the same way a ninja is cool. Or Batman’s car. There’s no denying it.
Yet, underneath this stealth interior resides the school swat.
You see, Tudor wanted to impress the teaching fraternity so much, it invited them to stay.
We’re talking Metas – AKA the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. It’s an independent national metrology organisation, which is technically part of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police.
It’s responsible for the most demanding testing in the watch industry that covers precision, resistance to magnetic fields, waterproofness and power reserve.
So when it certifies a watch, it’s really something special. In fact, only one other manufacturer – Omega – has managed it in the past. (And will charge you considerably more for the privilege.)
Tudor was so determined to achieve this milestone, it set up a Metas testing facility at its HQ where the examiners are now based two weeks of every four.
The resulting Black Bay Ceramic is a master chronometer that can function within a five-second range of variation every day. That’s a whole fives seconds better than the more well known COSC range of -4 +6. And crucially Metas only allows you to gain time (+5 seconds), so with this Tudor, you’ll never be late.
The anti-magnetism is off the chart, too. Well, not quite – it’s up to 15,000 Gauss. But to put that in context, an MRI is 13,000 Gauss, so there’s no way your mobile phone battery is going to have any effect on your watch’s ability to tell the time.
What’s perhaps even more impressive about this is that there’s no Faraday cage to help in this regard – the crystal case back proves that. Instead, there’s some material magic at play – R&D so secretive that we could tell you but then we’d have to kill you.
Needless to say, Tudor’s Calibre MT5602-1U is a masterpiece. (The ‘U’, by the way, doesn’t actually stand for anything – it’s a playful nod to the shape of a traditional magnet.)
Like its Black Bay stablemates, the power reserve is 70 hours and it’s waterproof to 200m.
Oh, and did we mention it looks cool. Really damn cool.