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Review: Tudor Black Bay GMT

Pepsi Light, or the real deal?
by Robin Lim on November 2, 2018

Since its inception in 2012, the Black Bay collection has been Tudor’s flagship model. Over the years, we have seen quite a number of iterations for the model – most notably the Black Bay Bronze and the Chronograph for being the outstanding pieces in the repertoire of well-designed watches. But in this year’s Baselworld, Tudor had taken it up a notch. Cue the all-new Tudor Black Bay GMT, also known as the “Pepsi”.

 

The Tudor Black Bay GMT.

 

Tudor Black Bay GMT

 

The watch is easily distinguishable, at least within the Black Bay collection. The watch continues to build on the collection’s vintage DNA, but this time round with an additional complication and a bi-colour bezel insert. This matte blue and red bezel insert gave the watch its nickname, similar to its brethren from Rolex. It was a widely anticipated piece by many, which sees it as a formidable addition to the already impressive Black Bay series. How does the piece stacks up? Let’s find out!

 

The Case, Hands, and Dial

 

A close up on the Black Bay GMT. It is certainly a nice watch, but we think the addition of faux patina on the luminescence plot would have elevated the piece.

 

The Black Bay collection from Tudor had certainly established itself over the last half a decade. It is unmistakable, and the new 41mm Black Bay GMT is not an exception. At the first glance, it is not difficult to tell that it is a watch from Tudor – the neo-vintage looks, together with its distinctive “snowflake” hands, makes the new piece a Black Bay through and through.

While the watch had retained its crucial DNA, is fair to say that this is perhaps one of the most distinctive and attractive Black Bay to-date. This is all-thanks to its matte red and blue bezel insert, which gives rise to its “Pepsi” nomenclature. The use of this colour combination is not entirely new, however. It was first used by Rolex for its GMT-Master collection, at the request of Pan-Am to indent a dual time-zone piece for their pilots. Tudor, being Rolex’s sister brand, certainly has the rights to its as well.

On the subject of the bezel insert, it is notable that Rolex had also launched its own iteration of the “Pepsi” this year. The difference is that the GMT-Master II from Rolex features a bi-colour bezel insert in ceramic, whereas the Tudor features an aluminium insert. Between the two pieces, we actually had a slight preference from Tudor’s version. We feel that while both pieces are nice, but the matte colours on the Black Bay’s bezel insert makes it a tad less conspicuous, and it complements the watch’s vintage looks rather nicely too.

 

The matte colours on the bezel insert makes it a tad more attractive than Rolex’s version, in our humble opinion.

 

Moving on, the dial and hands of the “Pepsi” retained the brand’s Black Bay DNA. The most obvious one lies in the watch’s hands, in which it features the brand’s signature “snowflake” hands. The additional hand for the second time-zone display – which is finished in red – also follows the design cue closely. One small qualm that we have, however, is the fact that the luminescence plot is white in colour. We would have preferred it to be finished in cream colour, to further accentuate the vintage vibe of this piece. That, in our opinion, would complement the vintage design and domed sapphire crystal perfectly.

 

The Movement: Calibre MT5652

 

The watch is powered by Tudor’s in-house COSC-certified movement.

 

The watch is fitted with Tudor’s Calibre MT5652, which is its in-house produced COSC-certified movement. The self-winding movement features a bi-directional rotor system, and it boasts a decent power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

As mentioned, the watch is comes with a dual time-zone function. One of the notable features is that the movement allows the user to set the second time-zone independently – without affecting the home time. This is a nifty feature for frequent flyers who needs a travel watch that allows them to seamless adjust the timing to different time zones. In addition, with the bezel, the user can actually tell time simultaneously at three different time zones. To top it off, the watch also has an additional date display at the 3 o’clock position for extra functionality.

 

Competitive Landscape

 

The Tudor Black Bay GMT, on fabric strap.

 

The Tudor Black Bay GMT is priced very attractively at US$3,900 (approximately S$5,354). It is, in our humble opinion, a watch that is very hard to beat. This is considering the combination of its function, build quality, as well as the fact that its movement is manufactured in-house. We shall take a quick look at some of the watches that are potentially competitors for the Black Bay GMT.

 

The Rolex GMT-Master II is perhaps one of the first watches that comes to mind.

 

The Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi” is one of the watches that would surely come to mind. Launched at the same time as the Tudor Black Bay GMT, the GMT-Master II is perhaps the first timepiece that features the bi-colour bezel insert combination many decades ago. Similar to the Tudor, the Rolex is fitted with an in-house movement. The main difference perhaps lies in its bracelet, bezel insert material, as well as Rolex’s brand equity.

The Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi” is priced at S$12,430. While its price might be seemingly reasonable for a Rolex, but we have heard that the waiting list for this particular piece can stretch for many years. There are certainly alternatives to get the Rolex “Pepsi”, although that means forking out at least almost two times of the original retail price. Is the price tag on the grey market justifiable? We guess only the buyers will know the answer.

 

The Grand Seiko Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 GMT, in three different variants.

 

Moving on, we have yet another contender with in-house movement: the Grand Seiko Mechanical Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT.

Grand Seiko is an extremely underrated watch manufacturer, but we reckon it is a strong contender vis-à-vis the Tudor Black Bay GMT. While the Grand Seiko is priced higher at US$7,250 (approximately S$9,953), but its quality and finishing surely makes up for the different in price tag. In addition, we think that the dials of this Grand Seiko is particularly beautiful. Its only drawback is that this particular model is discontinued, but we reckon that it is an excellent alternative if one is able to find a good example in the used market.

 

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GMT GoodPlanet.

 

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT is another interesting alternative. The piece that is pictured above is the GoodPlanet edition, priced at S$10,400. The watch is also fitted with an in-house Calibre 8605, in which the movement comes with the brand’s signature Co-Axial escapement. It is also anti-magnetic, with the silicon balance-spring. The finishing is rather beautiful as well, although it is slightly a notch below the Grand Seiko.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

The wristshot. It is a very handsome piece, admittedly.

 

The Tudor Black Bay GMT is indeed a watch with an excellent price proposition. It is priced much more lower than most of its competitors, and yet it does not skimp in terms of its quality or offerings. We must say that if this is Tudor’s aggressive strategy to break into the entry to mid-level luxury watch segment, then they are certainly doing a very good job at it. The Black Bay GMT is certainly a winner, in our opinion.

What are your thoughts on Tudor’s attempt at the GMT, or more specifically, the “Tudor Pepsi”? Let us know in the comments section below.

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7 Comments
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  • GMT OWNER
    November 4, 2018 at 4:44 am

    I have the gmt and had the date problem. My AD said 3 of 8 sold so far has the date issue. Tudor has not acknowledged publicly and is offering nothing for the inconvenience. You’d assume at least they’d send a band or something. Very disappointing

  • Davy
    November 4, 2018 at 12:40 am

    Will Tudor ever releas a salf winding woch that will not need a battery for it power as this will get me very excited

  • Paul
    November 3, 2018 at 12:15 am

    While I am a Tudor fan, I have 6 in my collection, I have concerns about the movement in the Tudor GMT. It has been widely reported that many of the initial pieces purchased have had to be returned to Tudor to repair defects in the date advancement mechanism. I was sorry that you chose not to mention this in your analysis. I will not buy a Tudor “Pepsi” until there is an acknowledgement that this problem is fixed. No one likes to admit a mistake, especially to a new in-house movement, but the public should be aware of the problem.

    • November 3, 2018 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for your comment, Paul. We did not have the watch on a long term loan nor any of our writers purchase the watch to have first hand experience with problems arising from day to day use. This is a review based on a hands-on with the watch, but for only a few hours and not days or weeks.

    • David
      November 3, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Paul, I own a Tudor GMT, got it from the first batch my AD recieved via pre-order back in June. It’s been my daily for almost every day since. Here’s some insight from an owner’s perspective. So far I’ve yet to see the date advancement issue occur to my piece, I haven’t been overly careful while wearing it either, no huge jaring hits but the usual daily wear and tear. I’ve spoken to my AD about it in case there is some sort of servicing that needs to be done to ensure it doesn’t happen, no word if there is any enmass repair campaign being done.. His location has sold 30 units including mine without any having to be sent for repair.

    • November 3, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks David for chipping in. We appreciate comments like yours and Paul make the community. Sharing experiences. Thanks.

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