This could have been another “Countdown to Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2013” post, as the Tudor Black Bay has made it to the pre-selected watches shortlist in the “Men’s Watch” category. But as a recent owner of the watch, I thought a personal review was more appropriate.


I’ll be the first to admit that I was never the biggest of Tudor. Up until recently (and rightly so), I saw Tudor as the Rolex alternative for those with a tighter budget. You got some of the best qualities of Rolex like the Oyster case at a more reasonable price, but in terms of design there was nothing to write home about.

But ever since launching the Tudor Heritage Chronograph a couple years back, Tudor piqued my interest. Not that I was infatuated with that particular watch, but I felt Tudor was finally beginning to grow out of its mother company’s shadow and develop its own personality. Fast-forward two years to Baselworld 2012 and Tudor comes out with the game changer, the Black Bay.


There’s no question that the vintage/retro look is hot right now, but in my eyes there aren’t many watches that do it as well as the Tudor Black Bay. It’s not a reproduction of any one vintage Tudor Reference, unlike the Heritage Chronograph models. Instead, the Black Bay takes some of our favorite little details from various vintage Tudor Submariner dive watches (for more information on which references exactly, check out HODINKEE’S in-depth post here) and throws in a couple of new ones.

The stainless steel case is vertically stain-brushed on top, beveled on the edges and polished on the sides. I have to say that for a machine-finished case, the quality is pretty impressive. The most striking detail however is the bezel, with its burgundy red aluminum insert. The metallic red tone shifts from bright red to a darker burgundy depending on how the light hits it. The big crown sits proudly with no crown guards, and bears a stamp of the Tudor rose. Between the crown and the case is a red aluminum ring that nicely accentuates the bezel, even if it’s not a historical detail.







To really give it that vintage touch, Tudor went with a raised and domed sapphire crystal. I like that you get the retro look without the drawbacks of plexiglass. It might not have the same warmth as the latter, but if you’re looking to make the Black Bay you’re daily wearer (or if you’re as maladroit as I am) you’ll be thankful for the sapphire.



The dial for me is what really hit the spot. The matte-textured black dial has a warm, almost brown hue to it, and is actually domed if you look at the sunken edges. The gilt chapter and text have a copper tone to them and blend in perfectly with the polished rose gold hands and hour-markers. You either love or hate the “snowflake” hour hand, but it does make the dial stand out that much more and reinforces the Tudor DNA. The cream colour markers have that aged tritium look and glow a rich green, but unfortunately the glow doesn’t doesn’t last for too long, as is the case with any pigmented Superluminova.




I opted for the leather strap version because I’m simply not a metal bracelet kind of guy, although I did find it well-made and pretty good looking. An additional black fabric strap comes with both versions that I haven’t tried out yet, so I won’t comment on that. I will however say that the leather strap has been the most disappointing part of the watch for me. In photos it looked like an (artificially) aged and distressed calf leather strap, but in real life you can immediately see that it’s just dyed or even printed to look that way. It’s comfortable enough but looks and feels cheap, even at this price point (2’900 Swiss Francs for the strap version).


The folding clasp was a bit creaky at first, but that subsided after a few days on the wrist. It’s beautifully designed in the Tudor crown shape and even has milled grooves on the sides showing the security lock. At first I thought the lock felt a bit loose, as I didn’t feel that “click” I do with other similar clasps like my 10 year-old Daytona. But after noticing the ingenious ceramic balls on the sides, the smooth action made sense.


On the wrist the Black Bay is an absolute delight. The 41mm case is the perfect size, and thanks to the long curved lugs, the watch looks good on just about any wrist. It’s one of those watches you can wear with a suit and tie as well as with shorts and sandals and never look out of place. It’s a simple watch packed with enough details to keep you eyeing your wrist all day without ever knowing what time it is.



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