The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Tudor launching its first chronograph. The Oysterdate Series 7000 or “Home Plate” featured an irregular pentagonal shape that reminded collectors of the home plate on a baseball field. Launched in 1970, the 39mm Oysterdate chronograph was a sports watch powered by the manual winding Valjoux 7734 movement, bigger than the 36mm Rolex Daytona models of the era.
Conceived as a robust, functional watch, the chronograph has a distinct design that has endured over the years. The first Tudor Chronograph Ref. 7031 featuring black Plexiglas bezel with 500-unit tachymetric scale was re-issued in 2010, marking a nascent resurgence for Hans Wilsdorfʼs younger brand.
The year 1971 saw the launch of Tudorʼs sophomore chronograph, the series 7100, which was nicknamed “Monte Carlo” by collectors because of its roulette wheel-style sub dials. Instead of the Valjoux 7734, it was powered by the Valjoux 234.
While the 7734 was a cam-actuated, the 234 was a traditional column wheel chronograph like those used in other fine watchmaking brands. By 1976, Tudor had fitted its chronographs with automatic movements for the first time, 12 years earlier than its elder sibling.
This 9400 series consisted of three references, each distinguished by its own bezel type and of course, dial variations, including the popular panda and reverse panda configurations. It is hard to imagine that, when Tudor was founded in 1946 expressly to offer good value, its founder Hans Wilsdorf specifically defined Tudor watches as “offering the trademark dependability of a Rolex but at a more accessible price”.
75 years later, Tudor appears to have hit the horological jackpot with the Black Bay and now, its brand new incarnation: the Black Bay Chrono. With black tachymeter bezels and the choice of panda or reverse panda dials, the Black Bay Chrono channels the golden age of sport watches while providing a solid, modern, unmistakable Tudor aesthetics across its case, pushers, bracelet, and clasp.
No longer walking in the shadow of, but rather beside, its older sibling, the new Black Bay Chrono keeps with the vintage-inspired styling of the Black Bay line, while also maintaining affordable pricing.
The Black Bay Chrono is unique in that, in commemorating its 50th anniversary of making chronographs, Tudor has managed to herald a new aesthetic that diverges from expectations of the brandʼs provenance and heritage, while remaining true to its DNA.
Retaining Black Bayʼs hallmarks, Tudorʼs signature “snowflake” hands are present, as are the circular applied indexes. Improving on the original, the new Black Bay Chrono is a slimmer chronograph with a more captivating dial: playing up its sophistication while keeping its sportiness and remaining true to the practical roots of Tudorʼs tool watch.
Its newfound thinness is possible by a “refined by the ingenious cut of the lower part of the sapphire crystal and a repositioned movement” meaning that the dial sits closer to the crystal ‒ while the movement correspondingly follows the dial ‒ further reducing the overall height of the watch.
The case size remains 41mm as the first-generation model while the height has been trimmed from 14.9mm to 14.4mm. Equipped with black aluminium inserts which provide a retro racing chronograph feel reminiscent from the glory days of watchmaking, not to mention a particular icon of that era ‒ “Paul Newman” Daytonas.
Yet, it would be a mistake to refer to it as the “poor man’s Daytona”. What Tudor has conceived is instantly recognisable as a Tudor, bearing all the goodwill and aesthetics of the much beloved model.
Powered by the MT5813, the Black Bay Chrono represents a “coming of age”, a reminder of the time it progressed to column wheel chronograph calibres for the Monte Carlo. This new movement based on Breitling’s Calibre 01 featuring a vertical-clutch and column-wheel, further customised by Tudor, and fitted with the brand’s free-sprung, adjustable mass balance wheel, as well as a silicon hairspring.
PRICE + SPECS
TUDOR BLACK BAY CHRONO
Case 41mm steel case with 200 metres of water resistance
Movement Automatic Calibre MT5813 with 70 hours of power reserve