Steel and gold, or often referred to as “Two-Tone” has been a no-go for a long time. I was very surprised when Tudor presented us with a two-tone version of their much praised Black Bay, at the Baselworld watch fair earlier this year. The Tudor Black Bay is one of the most popular watches of the last 5 years, ever since it was introduced in 2012. The first model featured a burgundy red bezel insert, and since then we’ve seen several versions with different colours for the bezel insert. Last year the Geneva based brand introduced a full black edition, and that one also hit the right note among watch enthusiasts. This year a two-tone version has been added to the collection, and again it seems destined to become a favourite.
The design of the Black Bay strikes all the right notes, and it’s probably best to describe it as a modern take on the 1958 ref. 7924 Big Crown (more about the historical models here), which is a collector’s favourite with its big crown and no crown guards. Today’s Black Bay is bigger, and chunkier than its ancient ancestor, however it certainly has that “vintage-inspired” charm that Tudor is now known for.
Steel & Gold… Really?
Let’s just say it, steel and gold, or two-tone, was not very popular in recent years, well, actually decades. Most watch brands simply removed it from the collection (except of course Rolex) and also on the second-hand market the two-tone models didn’t sell as well as full steel models, or full gold models. Launching a two-tone Black Bay is a bold move from Tudor. However it turns out to be an unexpected pleasure!
It actually started as of the moment we walked into the Tudor booth, at Baselworld, where we saw the Black Bay Steel Gold depicted on the wall stretching at least 2 by 2 meters. That was quite an entry, and immediately Brice (Monochrome’s Managing Editor) and I looked at each other. A mix of surprise, a bit of disbelief and also a fast growing enthusiasm was what we felt, and expressed. Increasingly, during the presentation that enthusiasm grew to be a genuine heartfelt passion (and the urge to buy one.) Steel and gold. Really? Yes really, it’s cool, and while I certainly wouldn’t buy it from just any brand, it so much befits the very cool Black Bay. Why, you might wonder?
The Black Bay, with its big, oversized, crown, the domed sapphire crystal and the lack of crown guards, has such a vintage spirit. A vintage spirit that perfectly befits the style of the seventies, the style of casual chic, the style of… steel & gold. It’s spot on, and the entire execution, with the faux-rivetted two-tone bracelet, the big gold crown, gold tone numerals and stick markers on the bezel insert, and of course the gold trimmed bezel. The dial is black (not glossy but matte) and comes with ‘gilded’ writing, brand name and logo and a gilded rail track minute index around the dial. And of course the hands and applied hour indexes are also in gold.
Two choices – Bracelet or Aged Leather
Maybe not entirely correct in terms of period (the Black Bay has a late 1960’s Submariner style, while steel & gold didn’t become popular until the 1970’s) however somehow it works. It really does. And if the two-tone bracelet is a bit too much for you, there’s the version with aged leather strap.
You can choose between the two-tone bracelet version, that comes with an additional fabric strap, or the version with a “vintage” leather strap and folding buckle (which also comes with additional fabric strap). Both look good, no they look great, and personally I wouldn’t be afraid to be seen wearing steel and gold anymore. Tudor somehow cured me from my dislike for this mix of two different colours of metal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more people had that exact same experience. It makes a great casual chic watch for the summer, next to the pool or even if you have to be in the office throughout the summer, it will suit you.
The price remains very… Tudor
Now with the price point Tudor also hit the exact right tones, and they’ve managed to keep it very decent, just like the full steel Black Bay models. On “aged” leather (and with additional fabric strap) the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel and Gold ref. M79733N has a retail price of CHF 3,600 Swiss Francs, while the version with steel & gold bracelet retails for CHF 4,750 Swiss Francs (including 8% Swiss VAT.) The extra 1,150 Swiss Francs for the bracelet version would never cover the costs of full gold mid-links, so Tudor chose gold-capped mid-links. For that you will get a great watch, with great looks, and an in-house developed and manufactured movement.
Time to go vintage-inspired, 1970’s style, casual chic!
Technical Specifications – Tudor Black Bay Steel and Gold ref. M79733N
- Case: 41mm diameter – stainless steel with polished and satin finish – unidirectional rotating bezel in yellow gold with black insert – domed sapphire crystal – steel case back – 200m water resistant – yellow gold capped crown
- Movement: manufacture movement calibre MT5612 – COSC certified chronometer – 4Hz frequency – 70h power reserve – hour, minutes, seconds and date
- Bracelet/strap: Steel and gold capped bracelet with rivets with additional fabric strap – or aged leather strap with folding buckle and additional fabric strap
- Price: CHF 3,600 for the version with aged leather strap / CHF 4,750 for the version with steel/gold bracelet
- Reference: M79733N
- Already available at retailers
More information at the Tudor website here.