The Tudor Heritage Black Bay 2016 watch hands-on
There is a brand that, despite having an important history behind it, and as a consequence of being closely associated in the past to its parent company never reached its full potential and never managed to shine in its own light. That brand is Tudor and in the 80s and 90s it used to be considered by people my age as a brand that you would turn to if you wanted to get something that was an entry-level alternative to a Rolex. I wish I could meet those people from the past right now and ask them what perception they have today of this particular brand. I also wish I could listen to their comments and see what difference it makes to wear a Prince Date Chrono and a Tudor Heritage Black Bay 2016.
I am not asking them to completely “refuse” the existence of a specific period of time but rather to talk about Tudor in 2016 and about one of the biggest successes in the last years, namely the Tudor Heritage Black Bay. The manufacturer from Geneva is following a gradual path and the year 2016 represents a very important step in its history; the brand is getting rid of its ETA calibers and equipping its timepieces with the new in-house built MT5602 caliber (MT is an acronym that stands for “Manufacture Tudor”.)
This piece of news won’t delight those people who purchased a Black Bay last year but it is an action that was necessary for Tudor’s development as an integrated manufacturer and that will allow the brand to act with a bigger creative freedom from now on. The MT caliber is the kind of change that you won’t be able to see with your own eyes but you are nevertheless fully aware of the fact that you own a timepiece whose power reserve can total about 70 hours. This movement has been awarded the COSC certification and it is a pretty interesting one despite its level of precision is to be measured on the enclosed movement rather than on the “stand-alone movement”.
Some of the features of the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay 2016 are common to those of the Black Bay Bronze. The rose has been removed from the dial and has been engraved exclusively on the winding crown while the minute ring features a vintage brown colour and tends to remind us of the typical coating that usually covers antique watch dials and the Oyster divers from the 50s directly.
In particular, I am referring to the “Black” version that seems exactly like a 1955 Submariner for instance but the snowflake hands and the indexes with their extremely thin gold rim and crafted in a white colour. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay 2016 is all grown-up now, it has become like a good professional who has just turned into a manager and has acquired a new standing and new authoritativeness. The decision to get rid of the “Rotor self-winding” writing with the “Chronometer Officially Certified” writing is probably the feature that best describes the value of the new collection.
The most intelligent and original reference to its rich past is on the bracelet with rivets on the links, inherited from the Black Bay and a simply ingenious idea. It doesn’t even leave you with the doubt whether you should opt for this particular version, that matches the vintage one, or for the other two featuring a matt burgundy or blue bezel that are available with this kind of stainless steel bracelet as well.
To summarize, if you want to own the heir to a 1955 Submariner, you should consider purchasing the Black version but if you wish to put your hands on a different Black Bay you should turn your eyes somewhere else. Moreover, Tudor inserted, on the Black version (I mean on the previous version already), a small detail that completely breaks its apparent excessive rigour, it is a red triangle located at 12 o’clock below the glowing dot. Everybody is aware of the emotional value of the black colour associated to the red colour on a three hands watch made in Geneva.
I personally don’t think that ceramic on a bezel is a must, it all depends on the brand and on the timepiece itself. Many collectors purchase vintage watches with an aluminum ring but I would like for Tudor to start thinking about replacing that disc with a matted ceramic-made one, keeping in mind that today’s industry boasts a vast range of technologies and a ceramic-made bezel is almost taken for granted. The domed sapphire crystal, the applied arrow-shaped index located at 12 o’clock and the perfect finish, simply take a look at how well the case and the bracelet fit together, create a wholeness that is so coherent and well proportioned that it is extremely difficult to find any weaknesses here.
The leather strap, its vintage look and the thickness of the leather somehow don’t match this compass-designed case that, apparently, should look vintage but that is actually modern-looking. I wouldn’t buy this timepiece with a leather strap but, however, it comes with the fabric-made replacement Nato strap, a sewn fabric-made strap that is provided by a longstanding French family-run company that specializes in this specific sector. In this particular case, the best combination is between the red Black Bay and an original "purple" colour Nato strap. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay 2016 collection starts at 3,200 Swiss Francs, a correct price for a consistent three-hands-watch with an in-house built caliber and a value proposition that has no equal on the accessible luxury market.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®