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Review: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono

The noble prodigy of the House of Chronographs and the House of Divers
by Dan-Andrei Kluska on June 2, 2017
Positives

• Clean look with a vintage spirit and the promises of a great movement.
• 200m water resistance and 70 hours power reserve.
• Competitive price.

Negatives

• The lack of handmade decoration, understandable due to the no see-through case-back.
• The hands’ size and shape can obstruct the chronograph’s view

At the beginning of the 19th century, Hans Wilsdorf – the founder of Rolex established a high-quality lower priced brand, named Tudor. The name decision was influenced by one of England’s dynasties, the Tudors, honouring in this way the country in which he opened his first watch company. This year at Baselworld, Tudor released a chronograph with diver ambitions – Heritage Black Bay Chrono. A nice surprise was the announcement of the calibre MT5813, a collaboration with Breitling. We had the pleasure to do a hands-on at Basel.

 

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono on leather strap has the perfect vintage look in a modern size.

 

Review: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph

The latest Tudor watch is a welcomed presence. The easy-going character with a pleasant look and a powerful combination between the chronometer certified movement and diver capabilities makes and interesting proposition.

The case, dial and hands

The Black Bay Chrono has a classically shaped 41mm diameter steel case. The finishes are the usual for Tudor: a combination of polished and brushed finishes. The face of the lugs and bezel is circular brushed in such a fine way that it has almost a frost, satin finish. The chamfering of the bezel’s side, of the case’s side and of the lugs is highly polished. The tachymeter scale is engraved and has indexes and numerals filled with black paint. The bezel’s readability is very good, the font used is delicate, but due to the strong contrast, a good visibility is achieved.

The screwed-in case back has a pleasant combination of circular and diagonal brush in the same fine granulation as the watch’s face. The cover is twice engraved “Tudor Genève” and “Calibre Manufacture” to remind us of the brand’s origin and the movement. Another detail visible on the back is the serial number engraved on the upper right-side lug.

The crown is beautifully decorated with a filled black ink rose motif. The chrono-pushers are inspired by the first generation of Tudor Chronos from the ‘70s. The crown and the chrono-pushers are screwed down offering a 200m water resistance.

 

The case’s finishes enhance the dial’s and tachymeter’s scale appearance

 

On top, the watch is covered with a curved sapphire crystal. This contributes to the vintage look.

The black frosted dial of the Black Bay is surprisingly balanced. The decoration is done using big, bold round applied indexes filled with luminescent. For 12 o’clock a triangle-shaped index is used. At 3, 6 and 9 o’clock the indexes are missing, leaving the place for the other elements of the dial. The sub-dials are neatly lowered, helping the viewer to focus effortlessly. The 45 minutes chrono counter is a Tudor signature and is a welcomed detail, being a change from the classical 30 minutes counter.

The date, black on white, can be considered inappropriate for a black dial, but in this situation, the date window is balancing the dial. To the dial’s harmony also participate the white printed name, logo and chronometer certification. A diver’s classic is the water resistance written using red paint.

The famous snowflake hands are perhaps a bit oversized. This offers an excellent readability, especially at night. At the same time, the big hands are covering too much of the sub-dials, resulting in poor visibility of the chronograph minute counter when the chronograph is used from 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock. The central seconds’ hand, shaped as a slender arrow, reaches comfortably the printed seconds’ scale.

 

The wrist’s look and feel make this watch to be a good companion in any situation.

 

The movement: MT5813

The collaboration between Tudor and Breitling is interesting, and we consider it to be a win-win deal. Both companies have an arrangement to use each other’s movements. The Manufacture Tudor calibre MT5813 is based on the 2009 released Breitling B01. And Breitling uses one of Tudor’s automatic movements in their watches.

The B01 was a result of Breitling’s investment in the development of a new chronograph in 2004, when they feared that the supply of ETA Ebauche movements would disappear. Although this fear never materialised, they benefited with their own in-house chronograph.

The MT583 is an automatic movement with date and 45 minutes chronograph counter which is the brand’s signature. This small detail makes Tudor stand out.

Otherwise, the calibre is a usual column wheel / vertical clutch modern chronograph and a silicon balance spring. The use of a classical column wheel is a plus for the feel and precision of the start, stop and reset system. The movement also features a vertical clutch, which is more robust than the traditional horizontal clutch.

And of course, the use of silicon in the hairspring gives the movement immunity to temperature variations and, as another advantage, the immunity to magnetism. These two properties are very important in a modern chronograph. The silicon spring is mounted on Tudor’s proprietary four adjustable masses moment of inertia balance wheel. An interesting side note is the involvement of Tudor as the client for the movement results in Breitling having access to silicon technology, which is currently limited to only Rolex, Ulysse Nardin, Patek Philippe, and The Swatch Group.

The wheel is visually beautiful and even though it is not decorated in haute horlogerie style. It is a shame that it cannot be seen through the case-back. The balance beats at 28,800vph or 4Hz, offering a good 70 hours of power reserve.

 

The domed sapphire crystal increases the vintage look.

 

The finishes are industrial but pleasant. Clearly the finish is not intended to be admired, but we think totally appropriate for the price point. The main plate and the bridges have a frosted, sandblasted finish. The ball bearing rotor is brushed and decorated with the Tudor name.

For some reason Tudor calls the MT5813 an “in-house” movement, even though the caliber is based on the Breitling B01 with some modifications and manufactured for Tudor by Breitling. Final decoration is done by Tudor, and in a different way as Breitling does it. And it is equipped with a Tudor proprietary balance wheel. Why did Tudor have to outsource the movement? Perhaps Tudor did not want to use the Rolex C.4130 as it fears canibalising its own Daytona sales. But we can only speculate. And the collaboration with Breitling seems to be a nice one, in our view. And does not take away one bit from the authenticity and identity of either brand.

 

The Heritage Black Bay Chrono is a versatile watch. From black tie to snorkelling, this timepiece is a confident companion.

 

Competitive landscape

If we take into consideration the cooperation between Tudor and Breitling, the first competition of today’s chronograph is the Breitling Chronomat 44, which shares the B01 calibre. This watch has a bolder, masculine look. Contributing to this is the 44mm diameter steel case and the unidirectional, diver ratcheted bezel with big Roman numerals. The Breitling B01 movement is a chronograph with 1/4th second, 30 minutes, 12 hours measurement. The Chronomat 44 comes in various combinations of case materials and bezels with leather, Diver Pro, Military, Ocean Racer, Crocodile rubber or Pilot straps. The watch has 500m water resistance for the steel case version and 100m for the gold case model. You have the chance to choose the combination of watch materials online, for a price starting from approximatively S$11,200.

 

Breitling Chronomat 44 uses the in-house caliber B01, the same movement that was used as based for the Black Bay Chrono. (Image courtesy of Breitling)

 

A well-known and loved chronograph is the Omega Speedmaster. This year, to celebrate the 60th anniversary, Omega released at Baselworld a limited edition. The new watch is intended to be as close as possible to the original model. Using three-dimensional scanning, Omega managed to bring to life a watch with the specifications of the original 1957 ref. CK2915-1. At 38,6mm, the Speedmaster has the perfect size and feel of a vintage watch. Powering this beauty is the Omega 1861 calibre. The movement is based on the Lemania 1873, has 48 hours of power reserve and 6atm water resistance.  We reviewed the Omega Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition as part of the Omega “Masters” trilogy. The price of the Omega 3557 limited edition model is CHF6,700 or S$10,050 (incl. leather and NATO strap) and it comes in a period authentic box set.

 

The wrist presence and aesthetic that will make the Omega enthusiast turn green with envy.

 

Another chronograph with a great heritage is the new Zenith Defy El Primero 21. This watch is a major step into the modern era. The watch is capable of displaying 1/100th of a second by the central hand. This is possible with a separate escapement running at 50 Hz (360,000 vph). The new Defy 21 comes in three 44mm case variants in titanium, open dial titanium and black ceramic-treated aluminium. The Defy El Primero is keenly priced at S$15,100 for the titanium case and solid dial version, S$16,600 for the open dial titanium case and S$18,000 for the black ceramic-treated aluminium case, also with open worked dial.

 

Zenith Defy El Primero 21. This is the version in a titanium case, openworked dial. Also available is a version with a silver dial, and another openworked dial version in a ceramicised aluminium case.

 

For a more classic watch, the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Grande Date Full Open could be a logical choice for the lovers of legendary pieces. Featuring an open dial with date and moon phase in a gorgeous gold bezel steel 45mm case, this El Primero is a wrist marvel. The price tag for this one is S$15,900.

 

A beloved classic chronograph with a modern look: sapphire dial, big date and moon phase.

 

There are some other interesting timepieces with various looks and prices. We made earlier this year a selection of Twin Register Chronographs. One of these was the Hamilton Intra-matic 68 Autochrono. It has a vintage look with a touch of modernism. The Intramatic is limited to 1968 pieces and costs US$2,195 (approximately S$3,080). A classical doctor’s 40mm watch presence is the Longines Pulsometer Chronograph. Under its gorgeous lacquered dial, a custom-built for Longines ETA movement L788.2 resides. This utility watch is priced at S$6,360. On the list, we also have the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter. This mono-pusher chronograph comes in a 44mm diameter case and has an astonishingly executed movement – the Minerva Calibre 16.29. The exclusivity of the watch and movement comes with a price: S$37,800.

 

A view to the Minerva Calibre 16.29 in the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter

 

Concluding thoughts

We are delighted with the new chronograph from Tudor. One of the reasons is the beauty. It is a sincere appearance, as elegant as a chrono can be. At its size, the Black Bay Chrono will fit any wrist and it will feel as it really does belong there. The second reason is the movement used. The Breitling have had enough time to prove itself since its 2009 release and is a robust movement well suited for the Tudor Black Bay. Another reason is the price. For a column wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch and “in-house” stamp, this watch could be more expensive. We appreciate Tudor’s honesty in revealing the movement’s source and keeping the low price.

And finally, the marketing coup of the year – signing David Beckham in the Tudor “Born To Dare” campaign, and having him personally pick the Black Bay Chronograph as one of his choices.

 

The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono Specifications and Price

The Heritage Black Bay Chrono is available in stores starting with July 2017 and is expected to retail S$6480 for the strap version, Ref. 79350-0002 and respectively S$6912 for the metal bracelet model, Ref. 79350-0001.

 

Movement

Calibre: MT5813

Type: mechanical self-winding movement

Dimensions: 33.80mm

Jewels: 47

Power reserve: 70 hours

Frequency: 4Hz; 28,800 vibrations per hour

Functions: Hours, Minutes, Small Seconds, Chronometer, Date

 

Case

Material: case with polished and satin finish

Dimensions of the case

Diameter: 41mm diameter

Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal

Crown: Steel screw-down winding crown, with the TUDOR rose engraved and lacquered in black, with black anodised aluminium winding crown tube

Caseback: solid, steel

Water resistance: 200m / 660ft

 

Strap

Material: Steel bracelet or leather strap

Buckle: Folding clasp and safety catch

Additional fabric strap with pin buckle included in the box

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