Tudor’s Dive Watch Genesis – The Black Bay 54

Tudor expands its Black Bay family again with a watch that, quite literally, goes back to its dive watch roots with a riff on the first Tudor Submariner from 1954. A new case, historically accurate bezel insert and a hands tweak make this years headline release a real beauty…

The Tudor dive watch saga began in 1954, with the introduction of the Submariner reference 7922. The watch was diminutive by modern standards, measuring 37mm, and was of the no-crown-guard variety with a small (compared to the later Big Crown Subs) 6mm winding crown. Waterproof to a depth of 100m it was the beginning of a fun and daring story that continues to date. Like the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, that paid tribute to the 1958 so-called Big Crown 7924, the new Black Bay 54 celebrates that first dive watch and is, according to the brand, the most “true to form” Black Bay yet. Let’s dive a little deeper.

A 1958 "Big Crown" Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7924 with a tropical dial (Image: antiquorum.swiss)
A 1958 "Big Crown" Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7924 with a tropical dial (Image: antiquorum.swiss)

First, the differences. Unlike the vintage Tudor divers, the new Black Bay 54 houses the latest Tudor manufacture movement, caliber MT5400. Vintage Tudors always utilized third-party movements from Fleurier and ETA, as did the Black Bays until the mid-twenty-teens, but now they are all in-house. Unlike its older brother, however, the 54 is not Master Chronometer. The watch is also waterproof to 200 meters, unlike the 7922 which was only depth-rated to 100 meters.

Its pretty clear though that Tudor have had a lot of fun putting the Black Bay 54 together. The 7922 blueprint was big step for the brand and was the catalyst for the famous and now official link with the French Navy, Marine Nationale (MN), as well as the US Navy and other miliary outfits. The MN took delivery of a batch of 7922 and so began a saga of epic proportions. I love the vintage 7922, and the Black Bay 54 has kept the case proportions pretty accurately at 37mm.

My favorite element? It’s got to be the bezel. So much emphasis is placed on the bezel with vintage Submariners from both Tudor and Rolex, with a correct mid-1950s bezel in perfect condition selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Tudor has used a no-hash-marks insert on the 54, which is brilliant, and they have kept the triangle at 12 silver instead of making it red. It’s a small but important detail to guys like me! The bezel itself has also been reworked with a coin-edge profile that is very faithful to the original style on vintage no-crown-guard Tudors.

Let’s be clear though, this isn’t just a vintage homage watch but a versatile and interesting new addition to the Black Bay line. As well as appealing to vintage lovers, the 54 is going to fit slimmer wrists beautifully and is in-tune with the ongoing move to smaller case sizes. The dial, too, is very fresh, having what Tudor refers to as sunray finishing. Eagle-eyed admirers will have also noted a subtle tweak to the hands too, with the square seconds hand being replaced with a round lollipop hand and the minute hand is ‘pinched’ where it meets the pinion. Another vintage-inspired touch.

Finally, the bracelet options. The steel bracelet is the tried-and-tested rivet-link design that we have seen on the Black Bays and other Tudors for a while now. Fans of the T-Fit clasp can breathe a collective sigh of relief as the bracelet does have the feature. New for the 54 is, however, a rubber strap with steel endlinks in a similar vein to the set up seen on the Pelagos. The good news is that the clasp on the rubber strap also has the T-Fit function on the clasp.

Tech Specs

Tudor Black Bay 54

Reference: 79000N
Movement: Manufacture Caliber MT5400
Functions: Hours, minutes and stop-seconds
Case: 37mm stainless steel
Dial: Black domed sunray finish with gilt accents
Strap: Three-link stainless steel bracelet with polished and satin finish, or rubber strap, both with TUDOR “T-fit” clasp

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