Available in the Shop:  All the way with the Tudor Black Bay

Available in the Shop: All the way with the Tudor Black Bay

It’s incredible to think that Tudor’s Black Bay collection, which is universally loved and offers incredible diversity and great value, is less than 10 years old. Let’s explore how this heritage diver hasn’t just ended up on the wrist of David Beckham, but also come to dominate the great Geneva-based brand.

Tudor watches didn’t merely make a modern-day comeback, it did so in record time. It managed to, very swiftly, capture the affection of the tastemakers, watch journalists, collectors and retailers. So good has been the value-for-money that the company has been offering that it’s since grabbed a massive chunk of the lucrative $2000-$5000 sector. Tudor has become THE go-to sport watch. And, thanks to deft employment of its admirable history, an unexpected by-product has been the exponential increase in the value of vintage pieces.

A 1955 Tudor Oyster Submariner ref. 7923 held next to the 2014 version of the burgundy Heritage Black Bay of 2012
A 1955 Tudor Oyster Submariner ref. 7923 held next to the 2014 version of the burgundy Heritage Black Bay of 2012

All of this has happened since the reinvigoration began in 2007. The Heritage Chronograph appeared in 2010, and others trickled out, including the Glamour and Grantour. Then the sporty Pelagos and Fastrider Black Shield tested the waters, so to speak. 2012, however, will be remembered as the year Tudor conclusively flexed its muscles, declaring its intent with a model that embodies all of the brand’s virtues.

That was the year when they officially re-launched the Black Bay, inspired by a diving model of the 1950s, the Burgundy being the first to bear the name. While the modern Black Bay has been refined and enlarged to suit the modern wearer, its design cues’ origins are unmistakable, including a contemporary take on the riveted bracelets of 60 years ago, and the use of the distinctive “big crown” as found on the ref. 7924 of 1958.

In October of 2015, the Heritage Black Bay turned into a trio with the addition of the black bezel Black Bay
In October of 2015, the Heritage Black Bay turned into a trio with the addition of the black bezel Black Bay

Tudor Black Bay M79030B-0003

Tudor Black Bay M79030B-0003
Tudor Black Bay M79030B-0003
Tudor Black Bay M79030B-0003
Tudor Black Bay M79030B-0003

Tudor Black Bay M79010SG-0001

Tudor Black Bay M79010SG-0001
Tudor Black Bay M79010SG-0001
Tudor Black Bay M79010SG-0001
Tudor Black Bay M79010SG-0001

From the outset, the new Black Bay did everything so competently and so authoritatively that criticism was negligible. The design team understood what the 21st century watch connoisseur wanted in a watch inspired by vintage models, and it couldn’t be merely a slavish reproduction. Indicative of this is the sheer quality of the new bracelet: Ask collectors about the longevity and survival rates of the original riveted designs, and they will shake their heads in dismay. The new bracelet? Rock-solid, cleverly adjustable, yet as handsome and redolent of the 1950s as a mono LP.

Tudor was not about to squander the goodwill that greeted the Black Bay. The company has shown remarkable restraint while building up the catalogue to include the North Flag, a selection of dress watches and other models that prevent any concerns about being a one-trick pony. As for the Black Bay, it has become the “event” model of the family, its myriad fans ever anticipating something irresistibly desirable. And here’s how Tudor has ensured that Black Bay devotees enjoy annual unveilings that result in waiting lists.

Back in 2012, when the Black Bay Burgundy arrived, it was powered by an ETA movement. It was the “rabatteur” for the Tudor, finding out who would embrace it. It was an instant smash hit. With admirable patience, Tudor waited until 2014 to issue it as the Black Bay Blue. Then, with one of the most surprising events in recent watch history, the company’s accomplishments were celebrated with a unique piece that coincided with the launch of the Black Bay Black in 2015.

The bezel-less Black Bay 36 unveiled at Baselworld 2016
The bezel-less Black Bay 36 unveiled at Baselworld 2016

Tudor Black Bay M79500-0007

Tudor Black Bay M79500-0007
Tudor Black Bay M79500-0007
Tudor Black Bay M79500-0007
Tudor Black Bay M79500-0007

Tudor Black Bay M79500-0013

Tudor Black Bay M79500-0013
Tudor Black Bay M79500-0013
Tudor Black Bay M79500-0013

It was in 2016 that Tudor’s in-house manufacture movement was launched. The MT5602’s arrival also saw the historical rose logo on the dial replaced with the familiar shield. And, as collectors are nothing if not predictable, a cult developed around the earlier, ETA-equipped models.

The phenomenal Black Bay Bronze that was introduced at Baselworld 2016
The phenomenal Black Bay Bronze that was introduced at Baselworld 2016

That year also saw the arrival of the Black Bay 36 to suit smaller wrists, with a blue dial offered this year. For lovers of a stealthier look, the Black Bay Dark was produced to deal with demand for all-black cases, while the Black Bay Bronze employed that widely-appreciated and admired metal, loved for the way it acquires an individual patina.

The years since have seen even more evolutions to the Black Bay family which, just like ambassador David Beckham, only gets better with age.

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