While most of the watch community has been talking about the new (and objectively very cool) Black Bay 54, with its sleek vintage look and compact case, there was more news to be seen on Tudor‘s booth at Watches & Wonders. And if it appeared to be a discreet release at first sight, the most important launch for the brand in 2023 is a very clever strategic move too. Based on the classic 41mm Black Bay collection, Tudor indeed revised this cornerstone model with a Master Chronometer movement, certified by METAS. And there’s more to discover with this update because most of the habillage has also been redesigned.
Just like Rolex with its updated Cosmograph Daytona or Submariner collections, Tudor is applying a strategy of evolution, not revolution. It’s all about creating classics that are immediately recognizable, consistent in their design, and that the brand will gradually update to make them better still on all levels. This 2023 update of the classic 41mm Tudor Black Bay is all about incremental changes, not drastic revisions. The Black Bay was born in 2012, first presented with a burgundy-toned bezel, and this watch has been instrumental in the resurrection of the brand. Later released with a blue bezel, and then with a black bezel, the first major update appeared in 2016. Tudor decided to replace the outsourced ETA movement with a manufacture calibre by Kenissi (a movement maker partially owned by Tudor) but kept the design almost intact – save for different printings on the dial.
This year, we’re seeing again an update of this cornerstone model, which can be seen on two levels. One, there’s the big news, the arrival of the Master Chronometer certification on a larger scale. Second, while the watch seems visually identical at first, the design has been updated and improvements have been made regarding comfort and features. All in all, it makes an already great watch even better, and even more competitive on the market.
A slightly revised design
Before we talk about mechanics, we need to talk about shape and proportions. Indeed, Tudor has corrected one of the major flaws of its classic Black Bay 41; its thickness. In the past, not only the case was thick – about 14.8mm in height – but the design of the casebands was also emphasizing this beefiness to the max, with straight flanks that were going down almost to the same level as the caseback (clearly visible in this article).
With the 2023 edition of the Black Bay Burgundy (yes, the blue and black models will be updated later), Tudor is retaining the same 41mm and the same overall design of the case, but deeply updates the profile. First of all, the overall thickness of the watch has been reduced by more than 1mm, to now 13.6mm in total. And additionally, the casebands are now thinner and some of the height has been integrated within a more “bubble” style caseback. The combination of the two factors makes for a watch that feels drastically thinner visually and on on the wrist. And that makes the watch far more comfortable to wear. Let’s now hope to see these design changes applied to the Black Bay Pro.
And there’s more to the new Black Bay Burgundy. Classic elements of the past model have been kept, such as the polished bevel on the sides, or the slightly too long case too (about 50mm). Water-resistance is still rated at a more than sufficient 200-metre, the caseback is still solid steel and screwed and the overall look of the watch feels identical at first. But look closely and you’ll see a new crown, which has a more traditional fluted design, a Tudor rose in relief and that sits closer to the case (no more coloured tube). In the same vein, the bezel has been updated with a more pronounced fluting on the edge, bringing a better grip.
Then, it’s all about very fine details. The aluminium insert retains the cool, if slightly polarizing burgundy colour, with a 60-minute diving scale. The dial has been updated too. The most notable update isn’t the change of text at 6 o’clock (and yes, there are only 2 lines) but the fact that the domed dial is now discreetly sunray brushed, and not matte black anymore. On this burgundy-coloured model, the hands, markers and tracks are all gold-toned and paired with light cream-coloured Super-LumiNova, for a vintage look. Another update concern the hands. The classic snowflake design is now reserved for the hour hand only, and the seconds hand now has a lollipop style. Also, the minute hand has been revised to a pencil style, while it used to have a baton design.
Last but not least, Tudor presents the new Black Bay Master Chronometer on a new 5-link stainless steel Jubilee-style bracelet, with brushed outer links and polished mid-links. The classic 3-link, fully-brushed riveted bracelet is still available and a new black rubber strap has been added to the collection too.
Importantly, all options are equipped with a folding clasp that features the brand’s T-Fit system, allowing for rapid micro-adjustment. Offering five positions, this practical system allows wearers to carry out a fine, instant adjustment of the total length of the bracelet along an adjustment window of 8mm. The clasp also features ceramic ball bearings that ensure a smooth and secure closure.
The Master Chronometer movement
Chronometer certification by COSC has long been used by Tudor, on all of the watches equipped with a manufacture movement by Kenissi. In 2021, however, Tudor presented the Black Bay Ceramic with a movement that was Master Chronometer certified by METAS. Probably one of the most stringent testing procedures, the Master Chronometer certification was launched in 2015 by METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, and Omega – but from the earliest days of the project, the Master Chronometer has been accessible to all brands that wanted to apply and isn’t the exclusivity of Omega.
What is the Master Chronometer certification? This standard covers 8 technical criteria, explained in a document named METAS N001. Importantly, the Master Chronometer certification tests encased and finished watches, after these have been chronometer-certified by COSC. It includes a range of requirements, such as precision (0/+5 seconds/day), magnetic resistance up to 15,000-gauss, waterproofness, power reserve and Swissness of the watch. Master Chronometer is a certification of the quality of a watch and not only of its movement, and as such provides an important added value to the owner.
For now, the Master Chronometer certification was used by Tudor on only one reference (the Black Bay Ceramic), itself a rather confidential model. But, now that Tudor has inaugurated its new joint manufacture with Kenissi in Le Locle, the brand has the capacity to certify more watches together with METAS. And the first large-scale model to benefit from this is the new Black Bay Burgundy. This is done thanks to a revised movement, calibre MT5602-U. No drastic changes, as the mechanical base is still the same; silicon hairspring, variable inertia balance, transversal balance bridge, 4Hz frequency and 70h of power reserve.
But of course, it now comes with the most demanding chronometer certification on the market… And that is a sign of evolution for the brand.
Availability & Price
The new Tudor Black Bay Burgundy 41 Master Chronometer is now available from boutiques and retailers. It is priced at EUR 4,090 on a rubber strap, EUR 4,300 on a 3-link riveted bracelet and EUR 4,400 on a 5-link jubilee bracelet. As a comparison, the blue and black models (which are still available), without the Master Chronometer movement and worn on the riveted bracelet without micro-adjustment, are priced at EUR 3,990. It’s about 300 euros more, but in exchange, you’ll get a watch with impressive quality standards, a better bracelet/clasp and a thinner and more comfortable case. And that’s worth the extra money…
We’re now looking forward to the updated black and blue editions of the Black Bay 41, and surely this will later be applied to many more watches in the collection. But it’ll come gradually. For more details, please visit www.tudorwatch.com.