For Watches & Wonders 2022, Tudor’s new Black Bay watches watches are so undeniably appealing that the brand might be in danger of being led by its flagship icon. The brand introduced the Tudor Black Bay Pro and the Black Bay GMT S&G (steel and gold).
The Vintage inspired Tudor Black Bay Pro
Though he was never publicly photographed wearing the watch, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655 launched in 1971 till 1984, is known to collectors as the ‘Steve McQueen’. Historically, McQueen was often caught with his Submariner and legend has it that the Reference 1655 Rolex Explorer II was so nicknamed due to a Rolex advertising campaign from the 1970s. Resulting from a combination of pop cultural zeitgeist where the unexpected ‘Freccione’ or ‘Orange hand’ was cool at the time and the actor’s status as an icon of style at the time of the watch’s production, it was inevitable that this mythos would build upon itself, perpetuated by growing auction prices in the 21st century. Today, we see Tudor adopt a classic icon and inject it with new vigour in the Black Bay Pro.
The Black Bay has been an immense success for Tudor, with countless iterations since its debut in 2012. What started as a handsome retro-diver grown into a full collection of timepieces from casual yet elegant daily watches (in the Black Bay 36) to chronographs. Now the brand moves the Black Bay in the direction of a professional tool watch with its new Black Bay Pro.
With a 39-millimetre diameter, a fixed steel bezel and a Manufacture Calibre with built-in GMT function, the Black Bay Pro is a technical model with a whole new, if somewhat classic-inspired aesthetic: from the brushed steel bezel to that yellow GMT snowflake hand, the touches reminiscent of those much beloved McQueen Explorer IIs is quite apparent. This nod to 1970s extends all the way to the hour markers that no longer feature the gilt rims, instead, Tudor has opted to apply grade A Swiss Super-LumiNova hour indexes onto the dial itself.
Black Bay Pro is an entirely new model with a dual time zone feature, a technical complication that establishes local time without losing sight of the time in another time zone powered by the Manufacture Calibre MT5652, COSC-certified with a silicon balance spring, 70-hour power reserve. Beginning in 2015, the brand began producing a line of “Manufacture Tudor” movements for certain models, beginning with Cal. MT5621.
These were based on Rolex technology which included silicon hairspring technology, full balance bridge and free-sprung Microstella balance wheel, however in 2016, Tudor founded a new movement producer in Geneva known as Kenissi managed by Head of Tudor Eric Yvon Pirson, Jean-Paul Girardin (formerly of Breitling), and Philippe Jacques Dalloz. Today, Kenissi produces movements for Tudor, Chanel, Breitling, and Norqain.
The Manufacture Calibre MT5652 which debuted in the original Black Bay GMT and now found in the latest Black Bay Pro represents a further step away from big brother’s shadow: it was a technical development process unique to Tudor, drawing on adaptable architecture capable of including new functions into its manufactured movements rather than resorting to additional modules pointing to Tudor’s nascent rise as a potentially independent albeit historically linked brand.
Yet, the vintage touches like domed crystals and a dial lacquered in matte black as well as the iconic combination of applied roundels and triangles in light beige or “fauxtina” (portmanteau of faux patina) retains some of the last links to its early heritage when Hans Wilsdorf founded Tudor as a more approachable, yet highly qualitative offering compared to Rolex.
Displaying remarkable user friendliness, this new movement has an integrated GMT function that allows you to jump the central hour hand (for local time) forward or backwards in one-hour increments through the crown. When running, the local central hour hand jumps on the full hour. The date is coupled to jump forward or backwards in accordance with the local hour hand.
The new Tudor Black Bay Pro is available with three strap options: The fabric strap woven in France using a traditional method on 19th century Jacquard looms by the Julien Faure company in the St-Etienne region, a stainless steel bracelet inspired by the folding riveted bracelets from the 1950s and 1960s and finally, a hybrid strap in black rubber and leather with a folding clasp.
Tudor Black Bay Pro Price and Specs
Case 39mm stainless steel with 200 metres water resistance
Movement Automatic Tudor Manufacture MT5652 with 70 hours power reserve
Price US$4000 (bracelet)
Tudor’s very own “Root beer” Black Bay GMT S&G
The iconic Black Bay GMT model that launched with a “Pepsi” bezel, so named for its blue and red (aka Pepsi) colour way is now also available in a S&G (Steel & Gold) version, featuring “Root beer” aka brown and black colour palette. Furthermore, the metal of our beloved steel Black Bay GMT now gets Tudor’s steel and gold treatment.
Similar to the Black Bay Pro, the Black Bay GMT S&G model sees reference time indicated by an angular “Snowflake” hand, a signature hallmark of Tudor, which completes a lap of the dial every 24 hours. Local time is indicated by another, shorter “Snowflake” hand set by a jumping hour, which can be moved either backwards or forwards.
The date, displayed through an aperture positioned at 3 o’clock, is connected to the local time hand so that when setting the time and passing midnight in retrograde, it instantly jumps to the previous day. A very practical and technical detail for the user. The 24-hour graduated bidirectional rotating bezel and “24-hour” hand mean you can also keep track of a third time zone. On the anodised aluminium disc of the bezel, the graduations for the twelve daylight hours are gold-coloured on the brown section with the night-time hours on the black section.
Sharing 41mm diameter with its steel predecessor, gold accents are also found the Black Bay GMT S&G’s domed grained matte black dial by way of gilt minute rail and applied markers featuring gold rims. In addition to the 48-click gold framed bezel, you’ll find a gold crown and gold center links on the vintage-inspired riveted bracelet.
The release of the “root beer” GMT follows in a similar vintage-inspired direction of the Black Bay Pro but more importantly, it is representative of an industry, if not the world’s collective recognition that as we leave the global pandemic in the rearview mirror, perhaps we are on the verge of returning to the age of crossing international time zones once again.
Designed for robustness, longevity, reliability and precision, the same technical calibre with adaptable architecture drives the new Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G. Together with its non-magnetic silicon balance spring, the Manufacture Calibre MT5652 is certified as a chronometer by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), with its performance going beyond the standards set by this independent institute. In fact, where COSC allows an average variation in the daily running of a watch of between -4 and +6 seconds in relation to absolute time in a single movement, TUDOR insists on between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its running when it is completely assembled.
Black Bay GMT S&G Price and Specs
Case 41mm stainless steel with gold bezel and 200 metres water resistance
Movement Automatic Manufacture Calibre MT5652 with 70 hours power reserve
Price US$$5,550 (bracelet)