As part of the newly presented 2017 Collection, Tudor introduced one big novelty, a chronograph with a new movement (and, as of now, you should be aware of the Breitling provenance) but it’s not the one we’ll talk about today. We’d like to take more time before going on this specific watch, as it deserves to be looked with a clear mind. Yet, the second big news for Tudor was the introduction of the Date on the Heritage Black Bay, a feature that will certainly please many end consumers, and that comes along a new design, with a brushed stainless steel bezel – and believe it or not, but it does change drastically the look of the watch. Here are our first impressions about the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel & Date Ref. 79730.
Let’s first draw the context. We are, Frank Geelen and I, proud owners of the 1st generation of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay, both of us with a midnight blue bezel. While the burgundy edition was probably not for us, the blue version was love at first sight. Just saying this to explain that we perfectly know the watch, in all aspects, and that we love it. This might give a bit of partiality when talking about this model, in both directions. Changing a watch, adding a steel bezel, and mainly, adding a date to a model known for its pure look, could have well been dangerous. But yet, the combination of both features, and not just one of them, is relevant, clever and in a way, justified – the addition of the date on the burgundy, blue or black versions would certainly make less sense. More than just a visual update, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel & Date Ref. 79730 actually has a different taste. More practical, more modern, more toolish too.
One of the greatest features of the Heritage Black Bay has always been its contrast, between the colored bezel and the matte black dial. With the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel, we move to a much more Monochrome look (pun-intended). Still, this is what the Steel version is: a monochromatic and technical version. Say goodbye to the dramatic vintage flair of the “colored” versions, this steel Black Bay, with its cold, toolish style, plays on different levels. Basically, it is just a switch of bezel insert, as the anodized aluminum ring, flat and with printed numerals and track, is replaced by a steel, brushed and engraved version. Not only the look differs, but also the proportions on the wrist. The dial feels more opened and more present than before, as more contrasted in this light and metallic bezel/case set.
This also gives the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel & Date Ref. 79730, despite the use of the exact same case as before (41mm in diameter), a less compact feel on the wrist. The watch fees slightly more present, more opened than before, without being bulky either. When worn on the steel bracelet, which is showing the now traditional riveted style of the collection, the watch feels much more modern and technical. It is bright, but not shiny (almost all plan surfaces are brushed) and legibility is as good as with the rest of the collection. And this slight (on paper) but quite important visual update (on the wrist) feels really coherent with the addition of the date, an also modern feature.
While the Tudor Heritage Black Bay has been praised by “hardcore” collectors for its nude, no-date display, the lack of a quantième on the dial was certainly problematic for some end-customers (more normal people that don’t dream watches at night). We hear quite often complaints about the presence of a date on a dial, which sometimes makes sense (both for the balance of a design or for historical relevance), but allow me two comments: first of all, many of the young-timers Tudor Submariner, including the ref. 79190 from 1995 (in which I see the inspiration for this Black Bay Steel) had a date window. Then, not all (and actually many) potential buyers of this new Black Bay Steel are long-time collectors. Thus, a date could be an important factor here. Plus, the integration is classical, with a window at 3, with a white disc that echoes the white index at 9, and no cyclops has been applied on the crystal (to avoid a too-Rolex style).
In the end, I have to say that the date created at first a strange feel on me, as an owner of the 1st-gen BB, but as a watch-journalist, I have to agree on the relevance of the combination date / steel bezel, which creates a more modern and more technical look to a watch that always played on the vintage trend.
For the rest, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Ref. 79730 remains the watch we praise for now 5 years: good proportions (41mm case), perfect execution of the case and bracelet, always that additional fabric strap in the box (here in khaki green, and really good looking), the oversized crown, unprotected, the sufficient 200m water resistance, the cool iconic elements (red text, red triangle, polished bevel on the lugs, snow flake hands, domed matte dial, domed sapphire crystal), plus a touch of modernity with the in-house MT5612 calibre (shared with the Pelagos), with comfortable 70h power reserve, silicon balance spring (a-magnetic) and COSC certification.
Overall, even if the shield doesn’t really move out of its comfort zone, as still playing on the success of the BB, this new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Ref. 79730 is coherent and achieved. No doubt that with its date and more modern look, it will attract new collectors, maybe less sensitive to the vintage flair of the previous versions, but praising practicality. The watch will be available in stored in June 2017 and priced at EUR 3,260 / CHF 3,300 on leather and EUR 3,560 / CHF 3,600 on steel bracelet.
Technical Specifications of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Ref. 79730
- Case: 41mm diameter – 60-minute unidirectional bezel (60 clicks) with brushed and engraved steel insert – stainless case, brushed and polished – domed sapphire crystal on top, screwed steel caseback – 200m water resistance
- Movement: Calibre MT5612, in-house – COSC certified – Automatic – 70h power reserve – 4Hz frequency – hours, minutes, seconds, date
- Strap / bracelet: 22mm lug width – steel riveted bracelet with folding clasp or aged leather strap with folding clasp – additional fabric strap with buckle included in the box