This year, at Baselworld 2016, you won’t be surprised to know that the attention was again mainly focused on the Rolex Group booth (Rolex and Tudor Watches). Of course, the Daytona Ceramic Bezel was on everyone’s lips (well, it’s a Rolex and it’s a Daytona, that’s no surprise) but the other big eye catcher there was on the other side of the booth, in the black and red rooms of Tudor Watches. Even if based on the already existing Heritage Black Bay, this year’s highlight for Tudor made some noise – some loving it at first sight, some being skeptical before seeing it (hello, that’s us…) and some already screaming scandal (like always…). We had time to digest the thing and it’s now our turn to have a closer look at the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM, a watch less familiar than you’d expect in a glance.
When, a few hours before Baselworld’s official opening, we received the first 3D renderings and the specs sheet about the Black Bay Bronze, we thought “well, this is just another Black Bay” or “that’s just a new color” and finally we agreed with Frank that there was something wrong with the style, the colors used, the look. We couldn’t exactly say what or why, but that feeling was running into us. And the good point is that, we were wrong! And for two reasons: the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze shares a DNA but has tons of differences with the normal Black Bay when examined in details and then, it’s a watch that has to be experienced in the metal, and not just once, but within a few months. This is an evolutive watch, which looks will change over the time. Then, sorry Tudor gentlemen, but the official press photos (visible here) did not give us a good impression – the colors are not the same in the metal AT ALL and the overall style is less shiny, more subtle and more versatile than we’d expect. So in the end, that’s all positive.
Overall appearance of the Black Bay Bronze
At first, the Black Bay Bronze is a Black Bay (yes, that’s really a big piece of news that I’m offering you here… I know, don’t thank us for that). Jokes apart, this is more important than you think. Being a Black Bay means that it’s a watch with superior coolness, with strong link to some of the greatest dive watches of the brand, to a look that that is properly timeless, both elegant, rugged, sporty and versatile. The Black Bay has been the brand’s largest success for decades and using this base to create a slightly different iteration is a wise, but natural choice. You won’t be surprised that it shares many of the details that we loved in the normal Black Bay, however it also brings many (really many) new features on board.
“The Black Bay Bronze is more than just a Black Bay in Bronze… it’s almost entirely new, without breaking the codes”
This watch has to be discovered and not just looked in a few seconds. It has more to say than just “hey, I’m a Black Bay in bronze“. The subtlety here is that everything has been changed, without being revolutionized. In fact, this watch is not cannibalizing the rest of the collection, it complements it, just like the Black Bay 36, also introduced this year. Same but different. In fact, case, dial, movement, size, material, colors, finishings are all distinct. it gives exclusivity to this model, without breaking the link.
Case and strap of the Tudor Black Bay Bronze
The case of the Black Bay Bronze is made out of a special alloy mixing aluminum and bronze. Don’t see here just an aesthetic choice but when looked closer, this metal is in fact a reference to the world the BB evolves in; diving. Bronze pays tribute to historic ships and antique diving equipment, when divers were exploring the deep blue sea with massive diving suit, equipped with a helmet made out of bronze (what French speakers will call a “Scaphandre“).
This metal, that was supposedly rather gold-looking in the press photos, is in fact more subtle and discreet than we expected on the final version of the watch. In real light, the colour is warm for sure but also is an intermediate between gold and steel, a sort of grayish gold, if you allow me. This is true for the watch one the very first photo (this was a brand new example), even truer for the watch is the other photos (which already changed color) and it will become even more blatant after a few weeks on the wrist. Yes, as you might know, bronze is a lively material, that gains patina over the time. The watch you see won’t remain bright and shiny for long… More on that in the next section.
Note that allergy reasons, the caseback is in stainless steel, coated with bronze-colored PVD (bronze can cause allergy in contact with the skin). All the other parts are crafted in bronze, including the rotating notched bezel and the crown.
A second evolution concerns the finishing. While a normal Black Bay alternates between polished (flanks and bevel on top of the lugs) and brushed surfaces (flat part of the lugs), the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is entirely brushed. In addition to the tool-looking wish, this choice was guided by the need of having a uniform development of the patina, which is not possible when having different surface treatments. However, the main, important evolution between this Bronze and the steel versions is about the size. From 41mm, Tudor chose to increase the size to 43mm. Then again, an announcement that we’ve been skeptical about.
So, in the metal and once on the wrist, the watch feels of course larger, but this is not massively different. First, this bronze edition won’t be available on a metallic bracelet, preventing the “big block” effect. Then, the lugs are rather short and they perfectly adjust around the wrist. Of course, if your wrist is under 17cm / 6.7 inches, you’ll feel like having a large watch. But for the others (like our model here), it will definitely be ok. And then again, it’s a way to differentiate it from the rest of the collection.
Turning back the attention on straps, Tudor follows its usual rule: versatility. The Black Bay Bronze will be delivered, like all the other watches of the collection, with two straps. However here, no metallic option – a bronze bracelet would have been clearly too much. The main one is an aged leather strap, in light brown, with a folding clasp made in bronze, like the case (visible in the video). The other strap – which you’ve certainly seen more – is a woven jacquard strap with a typical “Marine Nationale” look. A bit history: Tudor, from the 1950s to the 1970s, delivered watches to the French Navy (Marine Nationale). The watches were sent without bracelet and divers fitted them with self-made straps, usually elastic recovered from a french rescue parachute – which explains these green straps with yellow or red stripe in the middle. This was the inspiration for the fabric strap of the Black Bay Bronze, however with different colors. It also has a bronze hardware.
The Black Bay Bronze, an evolutive watch
Quick set of pics to show the patina on the new Tudor Black Bay Bronze – after 3 weeks on the wrist. What do you think? Love it or hate it? There are little tricks you can do to return the original shine or add to the found at the bottom of the ocean look. #Tudor #Blackbay #tudorblackbay #blackbaybronze #bronze #bronzer #watchporn #wristporn #watchnerd #watchfam #wis #horology #wristporn #wristgame #patina #divewatch
There’s something to be aware of with a bronze watch: it won’t stay in mint condition for long. It will age, gain patina and turn into non-uniform grey-green tones. For the sake of illustration, we found this perfect photo on Instagram, from an owner showing what his Black Bay Bronze looks like after 3 weeks on the wrist. Note that the aging process will of course depend on how you’ll wear the watch, what you’ll do with it (if you plan to swim in the sea, know that salt will accelerate the process). For those who didn’t like the gold-looking case when out of the box, just wait a few weeks and you’ll have an entirely different watch. For those who are not fond of this patinated / oxidized look, solutions exist (just clean the case with baking soda and lemon juice, and the watch will be like out of the box again).
Overall, the idea of a bronze case is playful and interestingly fluctuant. Just like scratches can be rather repellent to some, the oxidation process of a bronze watch must be accepted. Just for you to know… But this process has to be part of the fun with these watches.
Dial and hands of the Black Bay Bronze
This is probably where the Black Bay Bronze differs most. Again, the DNA of the collection is here, no doubt about it. However, it features some numerals and not only dots and batons as indexes, and that’s a huge difference. The dial shows a typical 3-6-9 Explorer-style layout, something that collectors of vintage watches will immediately recognize. We don’t really know where Tudor found the inspiration – to our knowledge (which is limited…), Tudor never had a Submariner with 3-6-9 dial and only an extremely low number of Rolex Sub have it. Whatever the inspiration, historical or not, the result is great. It sets this watch apart from the rest of the Black Bays and in the end perfectly complements the military look of this Bronze edition. The rest remains faithful to the BB, with dots for the hours, large triangle at 12, “snowflake hands” and a railroad minute track, printed in gold to match the indexes and hands.
The other novelty is of course this new colors. While the Black Bay always has a black dial – but colorful bezel (red or blue) – this edition features a matte chocolate brown dial, together with a brown bezel insert. At first, on the official press photos, we thought the watch to be way too brown and too monochromatic. in fact, just like the case, the dial and bezel have to be seen in the metal, in day light to be fully appreciated. Because of the sapphire crystal, the dial usually appears brighter and less brown that the bezel. The color becomes subtle and less “garish”. The bezel on its side is clearly chocolate brown, no doubt to have. But then again, it is matte and with a metallic finish, which gives nice reflections. Overall, the result is not as brown and gold as you probably imagined. Finally, there’s one mention on the dial that you’ve probably seen and that was not on all the other Black Bay… a mention that leads us to the movement.
Movement of the Tudor Black Bay Bronze
Just like Tudor announced that the 41mm Black Bay watches will also be equipped with this new movement, this new Bronze edition features the in-house developed and manufactured calibre.
For the Bronze, Tudor has a slightly different version of its movement – reminder, it has been introduced in 2015 on the North Flag and Pelagos – as the diameter is larger, to better fit the 43mm case. We’re mainly talking about the size of the mainplate, as the technical parts are identical. This Tudor MT5601 movement is technically more advanced than the previously used ETA. It offers a longer and very comfortable power reserve (70 hours vs. 38 hours), a silicon hairspring (for anti-magnetism), a variable inertia oscillator (for the accuracy), hold in place by a transversal bridge (for the reliability). Finally, this movement is COSC certified. The finishing is rather appealing considering the price segment but you unfortunately won’t be able to see it, as the caseback is full. Not only this in-house movement was huge in terms of independence for the brand but it’s also a major technical step, with immediate benefits for the final clients – considering the minimal price difference with previous ETA-driven watches. Well done.
What to say of this Black Bay Bronze? Well, first, it’s clear that is a real collector’s piece and maybe less a newcomer’s watch. It’s bolder and more hardcore than a classical BB, because of its size, its material and the colors used. Of course, it’s less versatile and easy to wear than the 41mm in stainless steel – which is, this has to be said, a perfect allrounder. However, the BB-Bronze has some guts and is, after this closer look, a watch that really deserves our interest. We won’t hide the truth: we’ve been skeptical when seeing it first. However, the Black Bay Bronze is more subtle, more discreet and more balanced than we thought. The overall package really stands out from the rest of the collection, without breaking the codes. We find back with great pleasure the domed crystal and dial, the snowflake hands, the bevels on the lugs or the typical Submariner look, but in a vintage, military and technical mix. You really need to try this watch in the metal and in real light to understand it… which might be problematic, as you have many chances to fall in love. Price is, like always with Tudor, very well positioned: 3,800 Swiss Francs / 3,750 Euros / 3,975 USD. More details on tudorwatch.com.
Specifications of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze 79250BM
- Case: 43mm – Aluminum bronze alloy for the case, bezel and screwed crown, stainless steel back with bronze PVD coating – domed sapphire crystal on front – 200m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre MT5601, in-house – automatic – 70h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – hours, minutes, seconds – silicon hairspring, variable inertia balance
- Strap: brown aged leather strap with folding clasp in bronze – additional fabric strap with bronze hardware
- Ref. 79250BM – already available in stores – price CHF3,800 / €3,750 / $3,975