The Tudor Black Bay Steel watch hands-on
Where did we leave it at last year? We left it at the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze and the Tudor Heritage Black Bay (with the new in-house built caliber), and this year it starts all over again with the Black Bay. I had no doubt about this new beginning, because the hero of the brand is now the most complete watch within his offers selection: new proposals keep coming in, and this year Tudor even welcomed a magnificent chronograph that we will discuss in a future article, it is now time for stainless steel though. In the age where ceramic is everywhere to be found, a diver's watch entirely made of stainless steel is newsworthy.
Why did the manufacturer come up with an all-stainless-steel-Tudor Black Bay? It is quite simple; if the classic Tudor Black Bay is a complete homage to the references of the past and historical diver’s watches of the Swiss brand, and the absence of the date is one of the characteristics that make a Black Bay a wristwatch for lovers and experts of the first diver’s watch in history, then the Tudor Black Bay Steel is a more contemporary Black Bay, both because it has brought along the date window on its dial for the first time, and because a Black Bay with a case and a bracelet with an (almost) entirely brushed finish had never been seen before.
The only reference to the history of the Swiss diver’s watch is the red writing that shows the reachable depth in meters and feet, and that matches the red triangle located at 12 o'clock. This is a timepiece in two tones that reduces its vintage flavour and adds in that high tech flavour instead. The Tudor Black Bay Steel still betrays its origins though, due to its large winding crown with no protection shoulders in the foreground and the heavy mirror polishing of the case-middle and the rivets on the sides of the bracelet; something that was already present on the Tudor Black Bay. The scale showing the diving times is now directly engraved on the bezel.
I have to confess that, at first sight, I had to get used to the new Tudor Black Bay Steel, because I am so accustomed to its vintage look that Tudor was able to build in an exceptionally evocative way (the snowflake seconds hand, the large triangle at 12 o'clock, the domed sapphire glass) that every modern version of this timepiece makes me ideally think to the brand’s original version. Despite everything, the combination works perfectly well and it is a well-known fact that the majority of this watch’s buyers expect to see the window date on the dial; an easy addition to a caliber – the in-house built MT5612 - that already features it in its basic form. The case is the same as the Black Bay’s, it is 41mm wide; the perfect size for a generous wrist like mine (20mm), in a collection, where the only concession to a larger diameter (43mm) is the prerogative of the Tudor Black Bay Bronze itself.
The uni-directional bezel has a circular satin finish and an extremely fine knurling; probably the thinnest on the market and it provides a precise click up to the last millimeter and made up of 120 small clicks producing a pleasant sound, when a full rotation is achieved. It is one of the most rewarding watches in the entire panorama of sports watches. The satin finish, which alone could turn the clock into a slightly rough item, is "broken down" by the shiny finish of the outer edge of the bezel, the profiles of the lugs and the edge of the rivets; all clearly visible in a plan view photograph of this timepiece.
The MT5612 caliber, for those of you, who are not familiar with in-house built family caliber crafted by Tudor, guarantees up to 70 hours of power reserve; a rate that wasn’t randomly selected and designed, but that is rather quite necessary to ensure full autonomy coverage between Friday evening, when the watch is removed from around your wrist to relax over the weekend, and Monday morning, when you resume your work routine.
Unless you want to keep the timepiece wrapped around your wrist – a habit many of my friends in Milan have – and replace the stainless steel bracelet strap with the jacquard NATO that sports a big buckle that matches the existing Tudor logo. The retail price of this timepiece totals 3,600€ (3,300€ on a lether strap) and the price is clearly outlined on the official Tudor’s website.
This is one of the reasons why the Tudor Black Bay Steel ticks all boxes; it is well-balanced, it is extremely well-built (the deploying clasp with a safety pin buckle is a small masterpiece of mechanic precision and beauty in itself), the in-house built calibre is quite evolved and it quickly erased from our memory the reliable ETA 2824 calibers from the past (whose maximum power reserve was 40% smaller), the retail price is also extremely competitive. Honestly, how could you not take this timepiece into serious consideration for your next purchase?
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®