Blue Skies and Blue Dials – The Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy BlueBy Ross Povey
The Tudor Black Bay has been part of the wristwatch landscape now for eight years. And for each one of those years, Tudor has delighted devotees with new ways to enjoy the snowflake hands and no-crown-guard cased dive watches.
In fact, the Black Bay has even stepped out of its comfort zone and become a chronograph and a GMT watch, but maintaining its signature hands and no nonsense sports watch aesthetic. In 2018, six years after the first Black Bay was unveiled, Tudor gave the world the Black Bay 58 (BB58) and with that launch, the brand entered the world of waiting lists and grey market premiums.
Now, as we begin to see blue skies through the clearing clouds of the global pandemic and mandated lockdowns, the BB58 has had a blue makeover and it’s exactly what all Tudor Collectors were looking for…
The ‘58’ in the BB58 refers to the year that Tudor launched its landmark 200-meter depth rated dive watch, the magnificent reference 7924. A 39mm steel Oyster case, oversize 8mm winding crown and bi-rotating bezel gave the watch an imposing presence and it became the go to timepiece for a number of important navies around the world, including the United States, Argentina and most notably the French National Navy, the Marine Nationale.
1958 "Big Crown" Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7924
The Marine Nationale (MN) were development partners with Tudor and had been testing early prototypes of Tudor dive watches and experimenting with winding crowns and dial/hand layouts. It was this relationship that led to Tudor developing the signature “snowflake” hands in 1969, which enabled the military divers to have a more legible watch when diving in low-light conditions.
1969 Tudor Prince Oyster Submariner ref. 7016 with "Snowflake" Hands
The BB58 is incredibly faithful to the proportions of the 7924 and the watch was an instant smash with collectors. And now fans of the blue snowflake watches, whose itch wasn’t quite itched by the original 41mm Black Bay Blue, have had their prayers answered with a BB58 Navy Blue!
The BB58 Navy Blue is every bit as cool as the original, with a 39mm steel case and bracelet that echoes the rivet-style bracelets of the 1950s and 60s. The original rivet bracelets were not the hardiest, but have a very cool look on a vintage watch. Tudor’s reinterpretation has the styling cues down to a fine art and the rivets, far from being just a visual accessorily, are actually key to the construction of the bracelet.
The watches are waterproof to 200m, again faithful to the 7924 in an era where it would be well within the brands capability to increase this depth rating and the sapphire glass is even domed to add to the heritage charm of the watch.
Where the modern watch breaks away from Tudor tradition is with the inclusion of an in-house movement. The 7924 and 7016 both used modified third-party movements — the 7924 had a modified Flurieur calibre and the 7016 a mechanism from ETA. The BB58 houses the in-house Calibre MT5402 which is COSC rated and boasts a 70-hour power reserve. And all of this comes with a five-year warranty.
The blue bezel and dial with the snowflake hands, combined with the 39mm shoulder-less case is exactly what the offspring of a blue 7016 and 7924 would look like. And that’s a good thing! On the wrist, the BB58 has always been the watch of choice for those who lean towards the vintage watches.
The original Black Bays are very cool, but are larger than vintage Tudors, which is ideal for may modern watch buyers, especially those for whom vintage doesn’t quite pack the punch they need day to day.
Sleek and low profile, the BB58 is as cool as can be and is slim enough to slip under the cuff of your business and robust enough to strap over your wetsuit for a diving mission…or for a dip in the sea before you head to the bar!
I think we can expect a pretty serious rush from buyers to pick one of these watches up, so I would suggest a quick call to your favorite AD to book your place on the waiting list. Because this blue bird has got wings and is going to fly!
Manufacture Calibre MT5402; COSC certified; hours, minutes and running central seconds; 70-hour power reserve
39mm in stainless steel; water-resistant to 200m
Riveted 316L steel bracelet with polished and satin-brushed finish, or blue “soft touch” with folding clasp and safety catch, or blue fabric strap with silver band and buckle
Starts at CHF 3,200 / SGD 4,608