The Tudor Black Bay Pro GMT Could Well Be the Best Tool Watch We’ve Seen this Year
The do-it-all watch, with cool design, ultra-robust construction and fair price.
Since the introduction of two important watches within the Tudor collection, namely the Black Bay GMT and the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, the watch community has been asking for a mix of the two concepts. Basically, a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight GMT. Tudor responded but decided to spice things up a little bit. And the result is this watch, the Tudor Black Bay Pro. Yes, it’s 39mm like the BB58. And yes, it has a GMT function, like the BB Pepsi. But no, it’s not just a simple blend of these two. The BB Pro is fairly different, pretty cool and very much a tool watch that can do it all. And, at least to me, it really is one of the best instrument watches I’ve seen this year. But being a fan of the Explorer II (older models, of course, not the huge modern versions), this watch somehow speaks to me. Even though we’ll see, it isn’t perfect either.
If I had to sum it up, the new Tudor Black Bay Pro is the perfect adventure watch. It’s robust and legible; it features a GMT complication for travelling; it can dive; it’s meant to be used and abused; it’s fully equipped… Basically, the kind of one-watch collection you’d like to have for weekends and leisure activities. The only thing it isn’t is a week/business watch to be worn with formal attire. But then again, fewer and fewer of us are actually wearing a suit to work. A do-it-all, wear-it-everywhere watch. Let’s have a look at the details.
Not a BB58 with GMT…
As said, the new Black Bay Pro isn’t exactly what some of the brand’s enthusiasts have expected. There was a clear demand for a smaller sized BB GMT (as a reminder, a 41mm watch with a 14.6mm thickness and quite a lug-to-lug presence), which could have been done within the BB 58 case with a bidirectional rotating bezel. But, Tudor thought differently and created what’s indeed a more compact GMT watch, yet with a slightly different interpretation. We’re moving away from the traditional codes of the dive watch or classic GMT inspirations and getting closer to a Rolex Explorer II concept. And that means an adventure instrument watch, which isn’t meant for a specific purpose but is suitable for many things. A few diving credentials, some travelling capacities, a robustness that makes it suitable for exploration or any rough terrain, or even a sky-compliant design.
The basics. The Tudor Black Bay Pro is a 39mm watch with the classic case of the collection. It’s made of 316L stainless steel, it’s mostly brushed with polished bevels, and the sides of both the case and the bracelet are also polished – nothing new here, at least for the central part of the case. The same can be said about the caseback, which is of low interest visually. It’s only worth mentioning that it is screwed in conjunction with the screw-down crown and that the Black Bay Pro is rated as a 200m water-resistant watch. Speaking of the crown, you’ll notice something quite special – and no, I’m not talking about the rose logo engraved, but its actual shape. The crown has a new design, where the thin fluted profile and aluminium tube have been replaced by a classic, more deeply notched crown… the Rolex way if you like, as it used to be the case in the past.
Framing the classic domed sapphire crystal, a recurring element on all Black Bay watches that contributes to the retro look of the collection, is a new bezel. There is no bidirectional rotating steel bezel with an aluminium insert, but instead a fixed steel bezel, finished with a handsome radial-brushed surface and an engraved, black-filled 24h scale that is reminiscent of the bezel found on the first-generation Explorer II reference 1655. No doubt this element is one of the main reasons for the coolness of this watch. It’s quite surprising to see it used on a Tudor, but since Rolex isn’t making many references to the past in its modern collections, the Rose is certainly a good vector to bring back some of the Crown’s coolest design cues.
Let’s now address the main topic of discussion about this Tudor Black Bay Pro: its thickness. We’ve seen multiple comments on our own channels and on Instagram regarding the fact that the case was high. Even though we could not measure it (not really an option during a watch fair), the case is about 14.5mm/14.6mm in height, which is coincidentally the same as the Black Bay GMT Pepsi. This isn’t a surprise since the two share the same movement and the same water-resistance. So yes, this Black Bay Pro is quite thick, more than a BB58 for sure (which is about 12mm in height), but not overly thick either. This is more a feeling, a visual sensation due to the more compact case and the fact that Tudor tends to make casebands that go down to the caseback and do not use domed casebacks. So, yes, the watch has some heft, but once on the wrist, it isn’t thicker than a classic 41mm GMT or a Black Bay 41 Diver.
Let’s now talk about the dial and the fact that it has quite some special features. At first, it feels classic, with a domed profile and a matte grained texture over a black colour. There’s a railroad minute track on the periphery, the modern shield logo and brand name at 12 o’clock, and three lines of text at 6 o’clock, including a yellow depth rate. Also, the applied markers feel familiar, with a combination of dots, rectangles and a triangle at 12 o’clock. Except that… these applied markers are not metallic and later filled with luminous paint. These are made from blocks of luminous ceramic with a slight cream colour. And the 3D effect not only looks very cool but also enhances the technical, instrumental design of the watch. The hands are typical Tudor, with a Snowflake profile and large amounts of Grade A Super-LumiNova.
Most importantly, the Tudor Black Bay Pro is first and foremost a dual-time watch, with an independent 24h hand that can be used either to display an additional time zone or to indicate if it’s day or night. The indication is here displayed thanks to a yellow Snowflake hand, again a tribute to some glorious vintage GMT watches of the mother brand… The function is a so-called real GMT, where it’s the local time hand (the main, shorter, cream-coloured Snowflake hand) that moves in one-hour increments, either backwards or forwards. The date, an indispensable function on a GMT watch (agree with me or not, but the date is needed here), is displayed through an aperture positioned at 3 o’clock and is, of course, coupled with the local time hand. Overall, legibility is great, night or day. And all settings are done by the crown.
As often with watches by Tudor, you’ll have multiple strap/bracelet options for the Black Bay Pro. First, and probably the most relevant, is a steel bracelet. It comes with the classic riveted profile, is entirely brushed on flat surfaces and features a folding clasp. Interestingly, the latter is fitted with the T-fit micro-adjustment system (extension up to 8mm in five positions), which was first introduced on the BB58 Bronze. The Black Bay Pro is also available with a hybrid strap in black rubber and fabric with a folding clasp, or with a black-and-yellow Jacquard fabric strap made by Julien Faure in France.
Inside the Tudor Black Bay Pro is the same movement as the Black Bay GMT, namely the manufacture Calibre MT5652 made by long-time partner Kenissi. This automatic movement is chronometer-certified by COSC and fitted with an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring. Also, the variable inertia balance is held in place by a robust transversal bridge. The movement beats at 4Hz and stores up to 70 hours of power reserve once fully wound by its bidirectional rotor. Regarding the precision, even though COSC standards are between -4 and +6 seconds, Tudor insists on between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its running when watches are completely assembled. A well-known movement, which has proven reliable and precise and is fitted with a practical GMT function. Its 7.52mm height certainly contributes to the overall thickness of the watch.
Thoughts on the Tudor Black Bay Pro
Being a fan of the older versions of the Explorer II, I’ll certainly give here a biased opinion, at least when it comes to the looks. With its combination of super-robust case, proper water-resistance, more compact diameter and, mostly, this very cool fixed, radially-brushed 24h bezel and yellow GMT hand, I must say that this BB Pro certainly is one of the most appealing tool/instrument watches I’ve seen recently. It has it all, can do it all and even looks rather stunning in the metal.
Now, if you look at the facts, Tudor has once again brought here an impressive package. The overall execution of the watch is precise and very neat. The BB Pro is fully equipped, with a chronometer manufacture movement, new innovative materials on the dial and a bracelet that is not only cool looking but also comfortable, solid and adjustable. It’s anti-magnetic, it can dive, it has a practical GMT function, and is packed with historical references that will speak to watch nerds like me or even to a broader audience looking for a fun looking tool watch.
It’s hard to say, but there’s not much to complain about here, especially when considering the price at which Tudor is retailing this watch. The height of the case will undoubtedly push some away, but not me. And the look of this Black Bay Pro is definitely different from the BB58 GMT some were expecting, so it might not be as consensual as a more classic Pepsi watch. But on my side, I truly love this new Tudor…
Availability & Price
The Tudor Black Bay Pro reference 79470 will be available from the brand’s retailers in two to three weeks. It won’t be limited in production or numbers and is priced at EUR 3,750 on the steel bracelet and EUR 3,450 on the two strap options. It comes with a five-year transferable guarantee. For more details, please visit www.tudorwatch.com.
I like the watch for what it is. That said, I think it’s also extremely inert of Tudor “borrowing” designs from Rolex’s catalog of yesteryear. Tudor’s slogan is “born to dare,” but there is nothing daring or innovating about copying cues from a prior reference of big brother. It’s lazy. Period.
Thank you for a very thorough and thoughtful hands on review. For the first time I have found myself actually liking a Tudor watch and your impressions of the Black Bay Pro have given me a lot to think about. As you say it is very close to a perfect sports/adventure watch. There are still a few things that put me off though, the main one being the false rivets on the bracelet which are simply unnecessary and a bit silly. I am quite surprised that Tudor did not make this watch as a Master Chronometer with additional METAS testing as the additional security of anti-magnetic resistance would make the Black Bay Pro even more appealing. If the date wheel was colour matched to the dial it would make for a neater dial. There may be some who would say that Tudor is becoming a Rolex vintage re-issue tribute brand but if we are being honest the entire Rolex range are vintage tributes due to the lack of any real design changes. Tudor are at least more interesting as a brand at the moment and the Black Bay Pro is one of the most interesting watches so far.
I think is just a lame watch. Tudor has by copying the Rolex 1655 positioned itself at the same level steinhart for example. To it is a poor man explorer2.
Great review! One additional differentiator – the hands are Explorer/Pelagos style, painted to match the lume colour and with a black base. This matches the uniformly coloured markers perfectly.
This watch is going to sell like hotcakes. Why? Because people love it’s retro vibe. Yes, it’s borrowing heavily from the old Rolex Exp 2 but that watch is now insanely expensive. I don’t understand the hate about bringing back a design people love at an affordable price.
Don’t know why so many reviewers are giving the thickness a pass, it’s clearly a beef watch.
If it was a chrono I would understand the size but even still I’d complain. What’s more annoying is that everyone is saying that if Kenissi was to re-make the movement so it was thinnner, the cost of the watch would double…..would it though.
I can see what Tudor was trying but just give the people what they want, a BB58 GMT under 12mm with a pepsi bezel.
Nice watch, I wish they would also offer a no date version even as a cost option. With regards to robustness, unless it is backed by official standards (ISO, Metas, etc) any claim is just marketing BS.
Missed opportunity. From a stylistic point of view, the Steinhart Ocean One Vintage GMT is a better homage to the Rolex 1655. This is too bad because the Tudor is clearly a very good watch.
Missed opportunity. If you want to do an homage, do it right. From a stylistic point of view, the Steinhart Ocean One Vintage GMT is closer to the Rolex 1655. Too bad because this Tudor is clearly a very good watch.
I have one, love it, wears great. Thickness not at all an issue in person, as, just like the Speedmaster, a good part of that is in the domed crystal. It actually contributes to a perfect wrist presence, whilst addressing the bulk of the GMT 41mm series. To try is to buy though, be warned. I see a lot of unqualified criticism of the thickness of this watch and here’s the thing; none of it is by anyone who owns one, or has even tried one on…Reference to the past, obviously the 1655, and generally of the joint Rolex Tudor brands is perfectly appropriate imo, just an awesome tool watch all round, can’t take it off.
“Huge modern versions” LMFAO. The “small force” is strong here. BTW very fat watch, but fat is ok, so long as it’s under 40mm.
I really like it… but I will stick with with my GS SBGN003 for that size and list of features.
I really like it, and I’m looking forward to trying it on. I feel that the bezel design will help it to slide under a cuff nicely, and the magic clasp will enable a better individual fit than with the GMT.
Nice watch, but I just can’t get over that black paint on the hands. Maybe looks better in the real world than on photos, but it is just ugly for me.
This is one of those cases where in-house is not necessarily better. As a 79230 owner, I can attest to the annoying qualities of the 14.5mm thickness on a 41mm diameter watch. I cannot see how a (slightly) taller case on a lesser diameter makes any sense. There are many competitors in this category that feature slimmer options (proportionally to diameter or otherwise). Tudor is not competing with Rolex, it is competing with watches from other companies. What will be next? A 14.6mm thick BB58 GMT? I so wished these obvious design flaws were pointed out more critically, in a constructive manner, to make a better watch world landscape.
Use an ETA 2893-2 and this watch would be 12mm thick. I’d much prefer that. I always say specs don’t determine how a watch looks or wears, but proportions do. 14.6 thickness in a 39mm watch is, IMHO, fat.
One thing that is not covered here which I would like to know. The GMT caliber seems to have had (or still has?) date wheel issue since its inception. Is that solved?
Repeat until blue in the face – the design is original, the execution is flawless, 14.6 is perfect, the movement is proven…
The year’s not over yet. And…what about the Sinn U50 S BS? Would that not be a viable candidate for “Tool Watch of the Year”?
I’ve taken delivery of mine – wasn’t that sure of it initially in pictures but when given the chance have to go see and try it – and its excellent.
The thickness bothers people, I get that. For me what does not help is Tudor’s case shape and their insistence on sticking with it – if you look at a Speedmaster for example, the case edge is relatively narrow and whilst its thickness is almost the same, it uses a protruding caseback and higher bezel to almost hide some of the chunkiness on a side profile. Tudor doesn’t, and with polished finish its more noticeable (both the Pelagos in Titanium, and the 925 which has a brushed effect in the Silver do not look as thick as their steel counterparts, despite being so).
However the lug to lug makes a big difference. 3mm less, this watch ‘hugs’ the wrist far better than the Tudor GMT. I am a tiny bit smaller than 7″ wrist and I found the GMT unwearable on bracelet, I wear mine on an elasticated MN strap to keep it closer to the wrist and hence slightly lower the profile.
But the Pro doesn’t need that – the shorter L2L means the bracelet or strap tapers down around the wrist earlier and offers a neater fit on the wrist. The rubber/hybrid strap is best at this, whilst also complimenting the dial excellently with the black and stitching highlights. Deployant clasp is a nice touch too.
As to the movement. @Liam Mulholland I don’t think its just cost – its ability. If Tudor could have made a thinner GMT movement they’d have done it already. Their date wheel issues (now resolved) supposedly came from the challenge of fitting an extra complication onto their standard 3 hand & date movement, but still fitting into the same case. Too tight a tolerance meant any variance in lubrication could result in the sticking date wheel.*
The problem for them is that they never just copied the Eta – they could now make a 2893-2 clone and instantly run their cases smaller say following a design model that Christopher Ward as an example uses for both diver & GMT models. But instead Tudor having gone in-house then delegated off their own intellectual property to Kenissi, they probably are a bit stuck – don’t want to entirely start again, yet have a current base movement too thick to significantly reduce. We’re not talking half a mm off the movement here, people want the case to be 2mm thinner thereabouts so there would need to be changes in movement height of at least a full mm, probably alterations in case and caseback design alongside to reduce the case height that doesn’t house the movement. I knew they wouldn’t be doing it any time soon.
In the meantime I think this is better than previous efforts; its much more wearable than the GMT with a nicer retro vibe than say the BB58 Blue.
* I do also think a fair number of these reported issues are user-caused; Tudor has opened the ‘luxury’ watch market to a new customer, one who would never buy a Rolex but could justify ~£3k on a nice watch for a significant life event. And one who would not be familiar with the importance of not changing time between 8pm and 4am…
I’m finding myself head here to Monochrome more and more for my watch content. Great stuff so far. I own this BB Pro and it’s really something great. Tudor isn’t being lazy, they are giving the people what we want from Rolex’s past because Rolex won’t ever do it. This design is instantly 1655 but yet so Tudor as well. Really great stuff. Great write up!