This year marks a decade since Tudor unveiled one of the most significant watch launches of the 21st century thus far, the Black Bay. I think most people would agree that Tudor’s heritage-inspired sports watch has taken on a life of its own, with various versions of the watch from classic diver to dress watch and chronograph to GMT. Ever the disruptor (remember the Black Bay P01?) Tudor has now done something different again with its golden child, in the shape of a fixed-bezel 24-hour hand watch with an entirely new vibe… Welcome the Black Bay Pro.
Tudor has an illustrious history of making watches that were worn by adventurers, be them explorers or the military. A few years before the first Tudor dive watches were delivered to the French Navy, the Marine Nationale, a batch of Oysters were sent by founder Hans Wilsdorf to the 30 participants of the British North Greenland Expedition (BNGE). Comprising scientists and soldiers, the BNGE team spent two years studying the Arctic ice and put the Tudor Oyster Prince watches through their paces. Water, ice, freezing temperatures, the rough-and-tumble of sledging with dogs… Wilsdorf’s watches saw it all and all the watches passed the test with flying colors. This explorer spirit has led to the Black Bay Pro.
The 39mm steel case of the Pro will delight fans who have clamored after the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. The Fifty-Eight was the first Black Bay, in fact the first Tudor, to put the brand in the “waiting list club’”. The Black Bay Pro is not, however, a Black Bay Fifty-Eight GMT, but rather an entirely new model with a couple of cool tricks up its sleeve. The watch will undoubtedly draw comparisons with the Rolex Explorer II and there is a family resemblance. This isn’t, though, the first fixed 24-hour bezel Tudor. Regular readers will have seen my dissection late last year of the 2000s Tudor watches, and of particular relevance at this moment, the Iconaut and Aeronaut. Both watches had independent 24-hour hands and a fixed bezel. The 2022 interpretation of this recipe is, however, all Black Bay with not one, but two snowflake hands…
Tudor has now dropped the Heritage banner under which the Black Bay used to sit, but this watch fuses modern technology with neo-vintage aesthetic touches. The best example of this are the hour markers that are a new development for Tudor. Where we are used to seeing white metal rings into which the luminous material sits, the Black Bay Pro has monobloc plots in ceramic that are attached directly to the dial. This ceramic is mixed with Super-LumiNova and so the entire applied block glows in low light conditions. This offers a much-improved legibility of the dial at different angles, as opposed to face on. Giving the watch a vintage touch, however, the plots are beige colored to resemble the patina so beloved by vintage fans.
The snowflake hour hand has become Tudor’s defining mark, since its introduction in 1969. On the Pro, the 24-hour hand is in the form of a snowflake hand, as is the main hour hand. This can function in two ways, either as an independent GMT hand or, more in line with the original Explorer II watches, as a 24-hour hand. For those who spend a lot of their time in dark conditions for long periods, such as explorers, pot-holers or scientists, the 24-hour hand helps to orientate the wearer to day and night.
In another move designed to celebrate the brand’s history, the winding crown has been entirely redesigned. Gone is the square-edged cylindrical crown with exposed crown tube, and in its place is a much more vintage-esque winding crown like the trip-lock crowns used on vintage Submariners.
The watch is available on either steel bracelet, jacquard weave strap or hybrid strap. Fans will be delighted to learn that the bracelet will feature the rapid adjustment T-Fit clasp and is of the modern rivet-construction type. The hybrid strap is similar to the strap seen on last year’s Black Bay Ceramic and fuses fabric-like leather and rubber with cool yellow stitching.
Black Bay Pro Ref: 79470
Movement: Self-winding manufacture caliber MT5652; 70 hours of power reserve
Functions: Jumping hours, minutes, seconds, date, 24-hour hand
Case: 39mm; steel; water resistant to 200m
Dial: Black with monobloc ceramic applied hour markers
Bracelet: Steel bracelet, fabric strap or hybrid strap
Price: CHF 3,800 on bracelet; CHF 3,500 on leather or fabric strap
Availability: From 30 March, 2022