The Tudor Black Bay family is constantly growing. First shown in Baselworld 2014 with a red and blue bezel. It was extended in 2015 with the Black. And for 2016, the now hot Bronze and today’s hands-on piece: the Black Bay Dark.
The Tudor Black Bay Family
Over the years, the Black Bay has seen great commercial success. In terms of design, it too was one of the keys which silenced critics who till its introduction had be dissing Tudor as the poor man’s Rolex. Well, in a way, Tudor is one. Hans Wilsdorf had set up Tudor as an alternative for customers who are not able to afford a Rolex. But with new generation Tudor, led by the likes of the Black Bay, and the North Flag, the Pelagos, the Heritage Chronograph, the Ranger, and Fastrider Chronographs. The design identity is strong and full or character. This is a power packed line up and not an imitation of Rolex models.
The entire Black Bay family is also a very strong lineup. In 2016, the Tudor Black Bay Red, Blue, Black were joined by the Baselworld 2016 entrants: the Black Bay Bronze, Dark and 36. The earlier Black Bays (prior to 2016) were equipped with the ETA 2824. With this announcement, the entire Black Bay family will be equipped with the new in-house movement MT5602, with two exceptions. The Bronze will get the slightly larger in-house MT5601, and the 36 will still be ETA 2824. The 2016 family will also see the deletion of the Rose logo from the dial, replaced by the Tudor shield. The Rose is still engraved on the crown.
The Tudor Black Bay Dark
The name evokes a mystery. Dark. Is it dark as in the absence of light? Or is dark as in the Dark Knight. Or dark in character like Lord Vader? We cannot fathom the depths of this philosophical question. What we can fathom is the beauty of an all black watch. It is simply gorgeous. Drop dead gorgeous.
The case, dial and hands
The case is black pvd coated. A matt finish, it looks deep, dark and rich. The shape and size is the same as the other Black Bays. At 41mm, it is rather comfortably sized for a dive/sports/tool watch.
The same domed dial and crystal is used. And it features a prominent winding crown from the Tudor 7924 of 1958, which is affectionately known as the “Big Crown”.
The hands are signature Black bay snowflake hands. Historically, these are referenced from the Tudor watches used by the French National Navy in the 1970s. The depth rating is engraved in red on the dial, and a red triangle on the unidirectional rotating bezel is also a design feature inspired by this history.
Contrast of the white hands and the black dial, surrounded by the black case is excellent, and the watch is highly legible.
The construction and finish of the outer elements, though not luxurious, reeks of quality. And feels robust and hinting at outlasting its owner.
The movement Tudor MT5602
The movement is not visible from the back, as there is no sapphire case back.
We did not have the opportunity to open the case back, but at the Tudor booth in Baselworld, we could examine an uncased MT5602. It was held in a perspex box, understandably to prevent dirty paws from soiling the movement, but that also meant we could not photograph it. Suffice it to show an official Tudor photo of the MT5602 below:
The movement looked very robust, and well designed. Finishing is at a engineering level, with no extraneous decorations applied. Surfaces of the bridges have a frosted like finish, with stamped anglage. The rotor has straight grained brush finish at the edges. And the Tudor brand name laser engraved.
The movement is COSC certified, and beats at 28,800 bph with a power reserve of 70 hours. The balance is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with a silicon balance spring held by a bridge instead of the more usual cock.
The competitive landscape
For this landscape, we might compare to diving and tool watches in a similar price range. Only the Sinn U1 (S$ 3,375) comes to mind. See our review of a special run for the U1, the limited edition Sinn U1D here. The Sinn is rated to 1000m, and is built from submarine steel. It is typically a dullish grey metal case, though a black tagimented case was available as a limited edition. And even more modestly priced. But it does not have an in-house movement, but ticking within is the Selita SW200, equivalent to the ETA 2824 used in earlier U1 and earlier versions of the Black Bay.
Another might be the Oris Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition II (S$3,000 on a rubber strap, and S$3,300 on stainless steel bracelet). No black pvd version is available. It is rated to 300m, and comes with a date. The date window is not a critical element in a dive watch, but is sometimes a useful feature, though some cry foul that it disturbs the harmony of the dial’s aesthetics. The section on Competitive Landscape on the Oris review suggests several other options, all more expensive than the Oris or the Sinn evaluated here.
Of course, it is immediately clear both the Sinn and the Oris are less expensive than the Black Bay Dark. But neither sports an in-house manufactured movement.
Perhaps it is against it own brethren that we start to see a few light chinks on the Black Bay Dark’s armor. Mind you, these are small nicks. As established, other than the black pvd case, the Black Bay Dark is the same as the other Black Bay Red/Blue/Black. These retail for S$ 5,040 in bracelet, and S$ 4,608 in leather+fabric strap. Even the Black Bay Bronze (different case and different movement) retails for a lower asking price of S$5,472, available in leather + fabric strap only. We are undecided if the Dark’s black pvd case is worth the premium, although, truth be told, once we look at the Dark and put it on the wrist, our hearts melt, and we heave a sigh, “Heck…its worth every extra penny!”.
We find the Tudor Black Bay Dark to be deeply satisfying. We played with the watch. We wore it. We wound it. And we just plain stared at it. We spent quite a bit of time with it. And we came away satisfied. The aesthetics are faultless. The build quality and finishing is robust, and the case seem to have been hewn from a solid piece of black steel, which it isn’t, of course. The black comes from pvd which is only skin deep. The face: dial and hands are clear, legible, and very pleasing to the eye. And for the asking price of S$ 5,688 for our preferred leather + fabric strap version, with an in-house movement to boot, represents great value for money.