Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
The ultimate Black Bay - Baselworld 2016
In the tennis lingo it is called ‘over-rule’ and it is that specific moment when, during a tennis match, the chair umpire disputes the decision taken by one of the line judges regarding a top-spin forehand shot hitting near the white line by giving the point to the player who had been previously penalized. My evaluation of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze followed the exact same rule, the only difference is that the time gap between the two events was one day only and that I judged myself and my own decision.
After receiving an invite from my friends at Tudor’s to take part to their press conference on 16th March – that it to say before the official opening of the event to the rest of the press – I had to decline because, unfortunately, I was still in Italy at that time. While waiting to enter Hall 1.1 of the Baselworld event the following day, the only way that I had to find out a bit more about the brand’s novelties was that of browsing Tudor’s official website and the Instagram profiles of other journalists. The first impressions that I had via the web were not positive at all.
I have said that many times already and I have been experiencing this kind of perception almost daily on my very own skin for the last three years, it is a completely different story when you take a look at even the finest digital picture of a watch and you experience it live and the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is no exception to this rule. Tudor have been constantly working for years on the concept of recovering their historic heritage while forging their very own brand identity, the term “snowflake” has become the embodiment of Tudor.
The Black Bay was a success beyond every expectation and in every aspect and the brand from Geneva is currently expanding this collection and developing it even further. Bronze, actually bronze alloy, represents the new frontier of the Heritage and the most noble alloy that a manufacturer can opt for if it aims at crafting a diver’s watch that reminds collectors of the marine underworld and that can also attract those fans that still associate the term “patina” with the concept of originality. For Tudor’s most radical collectors, that substantive is a real must.
The first thing that you notice when you have a Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze in your hands, is that the size of the case has been increased if compared to a steel Black Bay’s (a 43mm-diameter), as I said before, the case is made of a bronze-aluminum alloy. People tend to dismiss alloys by simply commenting about the metal percentage making up the alloys themselves without considering the fact that this specific percentage has a leading role when it comes to an item’s longevity. Only those who have crafted those alloys know the real difference.
Tudor have created a special alloy whose patina they describe as “elegant”, that is to say that the colouring tends to be very homogeneous rather than uncontrolled and it doesn’t soil the user’s wrist, something that seems to be pretty common among those brands looking for authenticity rather than functionality. If you really want to fully appreciate this alloy’s superiority, you should wear this timepiece for at least 2 weeks in a row to then observe the ‘aging’ effects on your skin, something that you couldn’t do with all the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze watches that were present at the manufacturer’s stand because they were all brand new.
The dial is a new interpretation of the Black Bay dial, the baton indexes at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock have been replaced by applied Arabic numbers, a clear reference to the first diver’s watches. The hours and minutes hands have been elongated to match the wider dial and allow the continuous minutes counter to intersect the small minute counter. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is an evolved version of the Black Bay where many details that might be invisible at a first glance have been updated. The “rose” located at 12 o’clock has been removed and so has the famous “smile” above 6 o’clock since the “Self winding” writing has been replaced by the COSC seal that was awarded to the MT 5601 caliber. This is a special in-house built caliber that Tudor have dedicated to their Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze, it guarantees up to 70 hours of power reserve, it features a silicon-made balance spring and it was launched last year to celebrate the release of the North Flag and of the updated Pelagos.
The main difference lies in something that is not visible to the eye, the width of the movement’s diameter that has been augmented to fully fill the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze’s case or something slightly visible like the pin-holes on the lugs that allow the user to quickly replace the strap. One of the original Black Bay’s strengths hasn’t changed though, the bezel that still rotates gently with its precise and millimetric movements that are coupled with the sound confirming the exceptional quality of this timepiece. The glass box sapphire crystal that accentuates the link to the vintage diver’s watches with their domed plastic sapphire crystal hasn’t been revamped either.
There is a clear reference to history in the stitched fabric-made NATO strap with its pattern that reminds us of the Tudor Oyster Subameriner Marine Nationale 9401’s strap from 1977, a special timepiece that Tudor used to sell the French Navy without a strap and that was then customized by the army with an elastic strap made of the same elastic fabric as parachutes.
Leaving aside the undisputable beauty of the 9401 reference and the envy for all those lucky ones who own one, I can ensure you that that special custom-made elastic strap is one of the most comfortable items ever made. It was also the source of inspiration for the fabric of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze and it is the French Navy’s involuntary contribution to one of the most important accessories in an era of customization frenzy. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is also available with an aged leather strap with a clasp and despite its nice manufacturing, it doesn’t really fit the case so well as the NATO strap does. My only question here is: is it not strange to see that, despite the fact that we are talking about a vintage diver’s watch rather than a Pelagos, there is something missing that doesn’t allow me to use this timepiece in the water?
Once you have wrapped this timepiece around your wrist, you will probably realize that there is an answer to this question and also that the mixture of colours of this watch has been carefully selected. I am no fashion blogger but the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze has been specifically designed to match every type of attire, mainly a business casual or a contrasting colours one. The aesthetic appearance of this watch when you wear it and when you look at it while it is lying on your desk is completely different and it is also the reason why I decided to play my “over-rule” card. In my opinion, Tudor should create an images gallery of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze wrapped around users’ wrists. The retail price of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is just below the psychological threshold of the 4,000 euro – 3,800 euro to be more precise – and it is the best Black Bay ever crafted by the manufacturer, it features an oversized case made of bronze alloy, a slightly vintage appearance, an in-house built caliber and a look that will change with the passing of time but in an extremely personal way.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®