Far from casting aspersions on the new Basel 2016 Tudor Black Bay Bronze with In-House Tudor Manufacture Movement but it’s time to address the elephant in the room: Are watches like the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze and Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark a symbol of the brand’s willingness to go where it’s esteemed older brother Rolex doesn’t want to go?
Basel 2016: Tudor Black Bay goes where Rolex Doesn’t
The elephant in the room: Mining the wealth of Rolex heritage had been the purview of “me-too” homage brands for a very long time before Tudor re-defined the neo-retro genre of watchmaking with the first Black Bay. For a long time, brands like Armida, Ancon and Steinhart watches were releasing a treasure trove of watches with heritage details and aesthetics pioneered by Rolex and Tudor. Insult to injury, they were releasing these Rolex-Tudor homages in case proportions reflecting the wishes of the consumers – 41.5 or 42mm iterations.
Then, there’s also the grudging acknowledgement that an entire cottage industry of “cool” Rolex modders like Blaken, Bamford and Pro-Hunter sprung out of nowhere to fulfil a gap in the Rolex aficionado market looking for a Rolex which wasn’t “everyone else’s Rolex”. Which leads me to another question: Why now? Why only for Tudor watches?
Don’t get me wrong, the Tudor Black Bay and Pelagos series of dive watches are but two examples of how dramatically successful vintage-watch re-issues can be. Updated to contemporary design standards, Tudor manages to avoid replicas of past-glories and has actually secured the hearts of many collectors with their price perfect vintage inspired yet new dive watches.
It’s been a strategy which has been simultaneously respectful of Tudor’s history and heritage yet at the same time, it’s causing some consternation for Rolex purists – why aren’t these heritage details re-developed with the same love and respect for my beloved “Rolex” brand? Nevertheless, the latest Basel 2016 Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze and the Heritage Black Bay Dark are the type of watches collectors have been waiting for.
The new Black Bay Bronze recalls the golden age of maritime explorers in bronze dive helmets, making a poetic statement as a modern dive watch with a vintage material. Bronze, as you might recall is used in many ocean-going components due to its resistance to salt water.
Joining its red, blue and black bezel cousins, the latest Tudor Black Bay Bronze follows in the same vein of snowflake hands, big “Bond-Rolex-esque” crown and clean date-free aesthetics. More importantly, the “tropical” case in brushed bronze allow with brownish bezel and dial already come “pre-aged” or patinated which only serves to enhance the heritage nature of the timepiece.
The addition of 3,6, 9 hour numerals rather than the usual baton indexes recall the classic 1960s Rolex Explorer reference 1016.
In addition to being aesthetically lustworthy, the newest Basel 2016 Tudor Black Bay Bronze is equipped with an in-house movement, the calibre MT5601
The new Tudor Black Bay Bronze comes with two strap choices: distressed leather and fabric strap; both with matching bronze buckles. The Black Bay Bronze price $3,975 which is quite unheard of given R&D costs for a manufacture movement redesigned for a larger watch rather than taking the short-cut of using a brass movement spacer.
The latest Basel 2016 Tudor Black Bay Dark
Officially, Rolex doesn’t endorse and neither will they service after-market black PVD-Coated Rolex watches from brands like Blaken and Bamford. Thus, the latest Basel 2016 Tudor Black Bay Dark is not only surprising but immensely welcomed for collectors wanting a black PVD timepiece from the makers of the world’s most popular dive watch.
Pipping at 41 mm and now equipped with in-house Chronometer Certified movement, the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark follows in breaking the traditional 40mm case proportions of lauded Rolex watches. 2 mm smaller than the Black Bay Bronze’s 43mm, the Black Bay Dark wears a little easier at 41mm.
While it’s an odd choice for steel to be treated with PVD in view of the existence of harder wearing DLC, it’s quite likely that satin-finished PVD treatment was chosen to keep prices more affordable now that the Black Bay comes with the long running 70 hour power reserve manufacture movement MT5602 which are certified to chronometer specifications.
The new Basel 2016 Tudor Black Bay Dark comes with black PVD bracelet or distressed leather and is priced $4,475 and $4,150 respectively. Both come with matching grey NATO strap.
As for why now and why Tudor? One can surmise that it’s an effort to establish real consumer desire for the brand as the Foundation starts to develop the Tudor name independent of the history (however shared) of its more established brother.