Tudor Black Bay P01
TUDOR introduces the Black Bay P01, a watch based on a legendary prototype developed in the late 1960s and proposed to the US Navy, and in so doing lifts the veil on a little-known aspect of its history.
We covered the Black Bay P01 in our Live from Baselworld report here.
In 1967, TUDOR, began development of a technical model to replace the Oyster Prince Submariner 7928 reference, which was standard-issue at that time. This new watch needed to meet a set of specifications decreed by the American government and incorporated the results of the latest research into functionality and ergonomics carried out by the brand’s engineers.
A development phase was launched which resulted in the production of prototypes. This ambitious project, which carried the code name “Commando”, never came to fruition as the regular TUDOR divers’ watch, reference 7016, which replaced reference 7928 in the TUDOR catalogue, was eventually adopted by the US Navy. In 2019, the TUDOR Black Bay P01 model – which stands for prototype 1 – is inspired by a prototype developed as part of this study and kept in the brand’s archives, only to have its unique aesthetic brought to life and mass-produced 50 years later.
The Case and Dial
Adopting the principle of the winding crown at 4 o’clock and the prominent end-links of the 1960s model, the Black Bay P01 reflects a cross between a divers’ watch and a navigator’s watch. The hinged end-link system on the period prototype was the subject of a patent in 1968, which covered a locking and disassembling system for the bezel to aid maintenance of the watch. The Black Bay P01 model does not literally reproduce this mechanism but borrows liberally from it, providing a stop system for the bidirectional rotating bezel via a mobile end-link at 12 o’clock. Black Bay P01 is waterproof to 200 metres and features hours, minutes, seconds and date functions. It is fitted with a domed matte-black dial with painted luminescent hour markers. Respecting the utilitarian aesthetic of the prototype that inspired it, the case is entirely satin-brushed for a matte finish.
The Manufacture Calibre MT5612 that drives the Black Bay P01 model displays the hours, minutes, seconds and date functions. Its finishes are typical of TUDOR’s Manufacture calibres. Its openwork rotor is satin-brushed with sand-blasted details, and its bridges and plate have alternating polished sand-blasted surfaces and laser decorations. Its build has been designed to ensure robustness, longevity and reliability, as has its variable inertia balance, which is maintained by a sturdy traversing bridge fixed in two-points. Thanks to these qualities, together with its non-magnetic silicon balance spring, the Calibre MT5612 is certified as a chronometer by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). The movement is equipped with a 70 hour power reserve.
Like all other models in the Black Bay line, the P01 adopts the TUDOR hands with their characteristic angular shape, known to collectors as “snowflake”, which appeared in the brand’s 1969 catalogue. It brings together over 60 years of TUDOR divers’ watches, while remaining firmly anchored in the present. Whilst it is neo-vintage in conception, its manufacturing techniques, reliability, robustness and the quality of its finish are consistent with today’s most rigorous requirements.