Launched in 2012 with a burgundy bezel, then updated with a midnight blue bezel in 2014, and finally a black edition followed in 2015, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay is certainly the brand’s biggest success so far. Why? Because of its vintage-inspired look, its superb quality and its reasonable price. Whether you have a small budget, or enough funds to acquire a Greubel Forsey every month, the Black is COOL. For Baselworld 2016, the Black Bay family is growing with the arrival of the Heritage Black Bay Bronze model, fitted with (you guessed it) a bronze case… and wait, there’s more: an increased size and Tudor’s Manufacture movement. Here’s an introduction to the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Family
Until now, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay, with its three editions, was a very nice dive watch, inspired by some vintage watches of the brand (lik for instance the Submariner Ref. 7922, the Submariner Ref. 7923 or the Submariner Marine Nationale Ref. 9401, as explained here, here and here), with a 41mm case made of stainless steel, water resistant to 200m, a matte black dial, slightly domed, with applied indexes (typical for the old Submariner watches) and the signature “snow flake” hands. Inside, as it WAS the rule at Tudor for decades (it changed last year with the Pelagos and the North Flag that were fitted with Tudor’s new in-house movement), ticks an ETA movement (a calibre 2824-2). Nice addition to the package is the possibility to have it on a beautifully finished Oyster bracelet, or on an aged leather strap; both choices come with an additional fabric strap. This watch is cool, there’s no doubt about it (and the best is its price, starting just under € 3,000 Euros). Until now it existed in 3 editions:
- Ref. 79220R – Burgundy bezel, black dial with gold hands and indexes
- Ref. 79220B – Midnight blue bezel, black dial with white metal hands and indexes
- Ref. 79220N – Black bezel with red triangle, black dial with gold hands and indexes
And now there’s a new kid in town…
The case of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM
For Baselworld 2016, the Black Bay family grows with the arrival of the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM. First and main attraction is for sure the material used. As a reference to the use of bronze in historic ships and other diving equipment, Tudor decided to update its best-seller with a case made in a high-performance aluminum / bronze alloy. As all the watches made in bronze, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM will have this warm and gold-looking colour, but only for a little while. It will age, it will gain patina (turning into a typical bronze green), depending on the way the wearer will use his watch. Other novelty: the finish of this case. Previously entirely polished, with the exception of the lugs, it is now entirely brushed (even the chamfer on the sides) to guarantee a homogeneous development of the patina. And because bronze isn’t hypoallergenic, the caseback is made in bronze-coloured PVD-treated stainless steel.
But don’t consider the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM as just an update of materials and colours… It goes several steps further and the list of updates is much longer. To make it simple, here are the evolutions:
Besides bronze as material for the case, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM also sports a larger size of 43mm in diameter (instead of 41mm), a choice that leaves us somehow skeptical – however a test on the wrist will help us to see if this increased size is relevant or not. Bronze is also used for the bezel and the crown – meaning that the entire watch will gain patina (except the caseback) for an homogeneous look. To match with the specific and warm colour of the case, this bronze Black Bay features a new bezel insert, still made in aluminum but now executed in anodised matte brown with ‘gilded’ numerals, depicting a 60-minute diving scale.
On the contrary of the other editions, no metal bracelet will be available. Instead, in the box you’ll find an aged leather strap with bronze buckle and an additional fabric strap with bronze buckle too (looking like a strap that could be found on an historical Ref. 9401, made of elastic recovered from a French rescue parachute, recognisable with its brown/beige color and a central yellow thread – see it here). A small detail (that has historical importance) are the holes in the lugs.
A brand new dial for the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM
Just like a Tudor Submariner Ref. 7922, the previous editions of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay featured dials with a classical layout: a triangle at 12, batons at 3, 6 and 9 and dots at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11. The main novelty in the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM are the numerals applied at 3 – 6 – 9. The rest remains similar (triangle and dots). The indexes are still applied on the dial, made in pink gold, and filled with light beige luminous paint. The hands are also still using the signature “snow flake” shape – even if they must a bit longer (compared to the other three editions) due to the increased size of the case. The slightly domed dial is now coloured in matte brown, with gilt tracks and inscriptions, creating a look of antique and patinated watches (that collectors call “tropical dials”).
The new manufacture movement (calibre MT5601) of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM
As you certainly spotted, the dial boasts new lines of text (thankfully not too many lines of text), which are different from the older editions of the Black Bay: “Chronometer Officially Certified”. Yes, this means that the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM features the in-house movement of the brand.
Introduced at Baselworld 2015 with a date and a power reserve indicator on the North Flag (calibre MT5621), and with a date only on the Pelagos (calibre MT5612), the family of calibre MT56xx now arrives in the Heritage Black Bay, in a time-only version (meaning no date or power reserve indicator). The MT mention in its name stands for “Manufacture TUDOR”, and it is the very first movement entirely designed, developed and manufactured by Tudor.
Just like the rest of the family, the calibre MT5601 of the Black Bay Bronze, this chronometer rated movement (COSC certified) boasts a 70-hour power reserve (meaning that its wearer can, for example, take off the watch on Friday evening and put it on again on Monday morning without having to wind it). Beating to a frequency of 28,800 vibrations/hour or 4 Hz, the movement is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with silicon balance spring, held in place by a traversing bridge – a guarantee of its robustness and a good resistance to magnetic fields. The look and finish of the movement remains voluntarily quite “raw” without being unpleasant to look at. As the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM is intended to be a dive watch, the movement isn’t visible through the caseback – but you can see it here, on the North Flag.
Conclusion about the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM
As we haven’t seen (yet) this Bronze Black Bay in the metal, we can’t speculate on the benefits of the new dial, of the increased diameter or to give an opinion on the combination of a bronze case with a brown bezel and dial. However what is clear, is that this is not a ‘simple’ update with a new colour. Moreover it’s also not just about a new material or a new colour. This is a serious “re-shaping”, almost a new model that maintains its visual aspect. Many of the attributes are new: new size, new dial, new finish of the case and a new movement, in-house produced – and this is clearly something that we applaud, as the MT5601 is a strong step forward, compared to the ETA calibres used previously (longer power reserve, silicon balance spring, chronometer certification.)
The most surprising point (and clearly the strength of Tudor when they moved from out-sourced to in-house) remains the price. Considering the new movement (certainly more expensive than a tried and tested ETA) and the use of bronze for the case (more expensive than stainless steel), the increase of price remains very reasonable. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM will retail for 3,800 Swiss Francs (inc. taxes). More about this soon on Monochrome-Watches with a hands-on / review article, to give you our “on the wrist” thoughts. More details on www.tudorwatch.com.