In 2012, Tudor introduced its Black Bay Heritage dive watch with a distinctive burgundy bezel insert and gilt dial. Its hands and dial markers evoke a mash-up of vintage Tudor divers. Unlike the Heritage Chronograph, the Tudor Black Bay didn’t pay tribute to a single model in the company’s past but presented a greatest hits of past Tudor divers. One of the biggest draws being the 8mm unprotected crown with a red anodized aluminum spacer over the crown tube, lending visual point of interest between the case and crown.
The Black Bay, since its debut, has become a commercial success and hit with watch enthusiasts too, a 1-2 punch that watch companies dream of. It’s the Outkast of the watch world, OK to play at a Bat Mitzvah, and still held in high regard by hardcore hip-hop heads.
Hard to beat
Watch collector/pop star/Chappelle’s Show guest John Mayer wrote, in his widely read Week on the Wrist review for Hodinkee.com, the black bezel modified ETA 2824-driven version of the Black Bay as “one of those watches that’s hard to beat. Its price makes it easy for first-time collectors to grab one, and allows longer-standing enthusiasts a chance to remember what made collecting so exciting in the first place: that when a watch finds balance in the elements of its own design, and then balance with the essence of the story it’s attempting to tell, it’s always worth owning.”
In real life, it’s a really nice dive watch for the money that gives its owner the build quality which comes with Tudor being owned by Rolex. It has enough of its own identity which doesn’t allow it to come off as a watch that one conceded to buying because the Rolex Submariner was not in the budget—even if that is the truth of the situation.
Whether you are Black Bay fan or not, it’s a line that has had a significant impact on Tudor’s success since its relaunch in America. In 2017, Lady Gaga, one of the most well-known and mainstream artists is rocking the newer in-house movement burgundy Black Bay in magazine advertisements. David Beckham has become synonymous with the Steel and Gold, two-tone date Black Bay. It’s a watch that has evolved into multiple permutations, including a very appealing Tudor Black Bay Bronze Blue, exclusively through U.K.-based watch store Bucherer.
Reasons to make a Black Bay part of your collection
Even if you own a Submariner or Sea Dweller, a Black Bay can be your “fun” diver. Wear it to family picnics where you might get into a little rough touch football and you don’t necessarily want Uncle Jimmy thinking you’re a big shot for wearing a Rolex. Presumably, Tudor decided to add a date window to its newer models (the aforementioned Steel and Gold, “S&G” to watch guys, and the version with the stainless steel bezel insert) to appeal to a wider audience, but the original no-date had a nice quick set and go functionality.
At 41mm wide and almost 15mm thick with its in-house movement (introduced in 2016), the Black Bay definitely is, size-wise, designed to be noticed. Our friend Zach Weiss, founder of Worn&Wound, criticized the Black Bay for its seemingly incongruous mix of Snowflake hands and circular dial markers and a too-tall slab sided case. He later, in a comprehensive review, backtracked on his earlier criticism and gave the Black Bay a favorable review based on the sum of its parts.
Make it your own
Our team enjoys our Black Bays as an irreverent member of our collections. Is it OK to wear it off the stock bracelet? So much so that Tudor sells the watch with strap options, including a fake distressed leather strap and a proprietary woven strap. And since we make aftermarket straps, of course we welcome the Black Bay into our family. We’ll admit (and promote) that we’ve never met a sport watch that we didn’t think looks good on a curved-end rubber strap.
The Black Bay series is meant to be the freewheeling member of your collection. Wear it how you like. Wear it like Lady Gaga with a stock mismatched woven burgundy strap. You can get in on the fun for around the $3,600 mark, and as Mayer asserts, ownership of a Black Bay gives you enough cred to hang with most snobbish of watch people.
Plus there are enough varieties of the model to allow the owner to express his or her personal style. The 43mm Bronze version has numerals at 3, 6 and 9. The blacked out PVD-coated version is perfect for that collector who wants the Bamford blackout style without the price tag and worry that they’ve “ruined” a stock Rolex sport watch.
So if you’re a Sub or Sea Dweller owner, yes, go ahead and add a Black Bay to your rotation and let your less-conservative side shine.