This year, Tudor takes a bold approach, presenting pieces that achieve many firsts for the watchmaker. At the epitome, is a “much anticipated” move to present the iconic diver in gold. Named the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K, an ode to its 18ct gold case while also acknowledging the year the diver made its debut for it was in 1958 that Tudor launched the divers watch, waterproof to 200 meters, when the ‘Big Crown’ was introduced.
Tudor achieves two firsts with this model. Aside from creating it in gold, it is also the first time that the diver has an open case back, showcasing the Calibre MT5400 that features a 70-hour power reserve, making it “weekend proof,” allowing the wearer to take the watch off on a Friday evening and put it back on again on Monday morning without having to reset it.
The Calibre MT5400 which displays the hour, minute and second functions. The rotor in tungsten monobloc is openwork and satin-brushed with sand-blasted details. Its bridge and mainplate have alternate sand-blasted, polished surfaces and laser decorations. The movement has been built to ensure robustness, longevity, reliability and precision with a variable inertia balance, maintained by a traversing bridge with a two-point fixation.
The movement, as well as it non-magnetic silicon hairspring, has been certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Its performance, however, goes beyond the standards set by the institute. The COSC allows an average variation in the daily running of watch between -4 and +6 seconds in relation to absolute time in a single movement. Tudor, however, insists on -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its running when it is completely assembled.
Remaining true to the aesthetics of the 1950s, the watch comes in a 39mm case. Enhancing the look is the matte effect that goes against the typical gold watch. These features make it an apt choice for those who are drawn to a vintage look and feel. This is further accentuated by the powdered gold lacquer on the dial. The “snowflake” hands, one of the hallmarks of the divers’ watches, is also in 18ct yellow gold, with grade A Swiss Super-LumiNova luminescent material.
While some expressed desire for gold bracelet, the two straps that are included – a green jacquard fabric with gold band and a dark brown alligator – adding to the vintage vibe.
Carrying on with the theme of “firsts,” Tudor also debuts the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 silver, with an open case back; the name, a reference to the precious metal of its case; an unprecedented move for a Tudor divers’ watch. The exact composition of the chosen alloy may be a mystery but the lack of this information has had no effect the appearance of the case, which is satin-finished.
Complementing the silver case is the 39-mm dial in taupe and the matching bezel insert. The silver details are added to the face and on the signature “Snowflake” hands. The same colour palette is seen on the fabric strap that comes with the watch. The fabric strap, like the one available for the Fifty-Eight 18K, is a hallmark of Tudor, a result of Tudor’s partnership with the French company Julien Faure. Another option is available in brown grain leather. The Black Bay Fifty-Eighty 925 is also powered by the Calibre MT5400 that equips the watch with the same features of Fifty-Eight 18K.
The third variation offered by Tudor for its Black Bay Fifty-Eight comes with the pioneering use of a bronze bracelet featuring a new clasp. The new colour palette, based on a “brown-bronze” tone brings the naval inspiration to life. It is an aesthetic nod to the to the bronze on old ships and other deep-sea diving equipment. The choice of material serves both form and function, as it demonstrates a high-level of resistance to corrosion while also paying tribute to the naval world from which it was inspired.
Bronze is a material that Tudor has been exploring for several years. The craftsmanship required to produce a watch case is pretty spectacular. The bronze is made into bars, which are then cut into small cylinders of material that are a few centimetres in length, These are then heated to a high temperature before being stamped individually while hot using a friction screw press. Through this process, the watch middle case is formed. From this point, there are an additional forty steps to get the bronze case. The final shape is created through a machining processes while some of the functional are produced by hand. Adding to the complexity of the process is the fact that bronze is a material that evolves according to the environment, requiring the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze to be created with meticulous care.
This model is also the first to showcase a bracelet produced entirely from bronze. The satin-brushed links are reminiscent of Tudor bracelets of the 1950s and 60s. The watch features a new bronze clasp, also satin-brushed, with a redesigned cover and Tudor “T-fit” rapid adjustment system for the length. The system allows for an instant adjustment along bracelet that is 8mm long.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze comes with all the features seen in the other Black Bay Fifty-Eight models – the “Snowflake” hands, coated with Super-LumiNova luminescent material. It is also powered by the MT5400 movement.
Here’s a closer look at the models:
(All images from Tudor)