After searching for months to try one on, I finally got my hands on the new Tudor Black Bay, and when told I was able to purchase it, I bought it! So how has it been after a month or so on the wrist?
Why I Bought It
- Liked the 5-Link bracelet aesthetic
- Well proportioned case and dial
- New T-fit clasp
The Ownership Reality
- Wears well due to the slimmer case
- No date still, slight bug bear of mine
- Aluminium bezel insert is more prone to scratches than ceramic
Overall rating: 9 /10
Value for money: 9/10
Build quality: 9/10
The Back Story
The Black Bay Burgundy is now in its third generation or iteration of the watch. Originally released in 2012 to much acclaim, the watch was a great homage to the Tudor and Rolex dive watches of the 50’s. 10 years ago, it was released with an ETA movement and had the now much sought after “smiley” dial, with the lines of text at the bottom being curved making it look as thought the watch was smiling at you. And maybe it was?!
This was then updated and launched at Baselworld in 2016 with the Tudor inhouse movement, the MT5602 that was COSC, the smiley removed and now with three lines of text saying it is Chronometer Certified. This is still the case with the current black and blue bezel variants on the love it or hate it faux riveted oyster style bracelet (which was done to mimic the pieces of the 1950’s).
However, at Watches and Wonders this year (2023), Tudor came out swinging with several models and upadates, one of which was the newly refined Tudor Black Bay Burgudy, which if you missed it, you can read all the details here prior to continuing this article. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you.
Up to speed? Great! Now with METAS certified movement, which is now on par with OMEGA and in my experience with the 2 brands, just off Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer standard (more on that later), choice of two bracelets or a rubber strap and a more refined dial and case, I was keen to look and try it first hand. If I could find one that is. Being interstate every few weeks, I would drop into the Tudor Boutiques in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as other AD’s and seems no one had one on the new Five-link Bracelet in stock to try on.
Thankfully the lovely staff at the newly opened Tudor Boutique in Brisbane late last month had one to try, and I immediately jumped on it after trying it on and seeing how it compared to the original Black Bay (I’ve had the Blue Bezel in the past) and the GMT (which you can check out my Owners Perspective here).
I won’t go too much into the design here, as we’ve covered this in the release and Hands On Reviews before. However, what I’ll talk about is how the design has translated to everyday wear and the look. Firstly, it’s noticeable slimmer on the wrist. Tudor have shaved about 1mm off the case thickness, and whilst this doesn’t sound like a lot, in the watch world, millimetres and fractions of a millimetre are everything. It gives the appearance of a smaller watch, even though Tudor has kept its 41mm case diameter.
Tudor have also shaped the case too, more so than the original Black Bay, so it’s less ‘slab sided’. In conjunction with this, they’ve sharpened the knurling on the bezel slightly, making it easier to turn and brought the crown in closer to the case. Another element that helps with the slimmer, or smaller look of the new Black Bay Gen 3.
The dial changes are nice too, and personally I like the two lines of text as opposed to three. Gone are the words “Chronometer Officially Certified” under the depth rating, and replaced with “Master Chronometer”. This just helps to give more space on the dial, and balances it more I feel when looking at the time.
The other improvement, which was another reason I bought the new version was the removal of the snowflake style seconds hand, replaced with a lollipop style. To me, this helps with the dial aesthetic, and made it a little more true to the vintage roots. The snowflake has never been something I loved, but it is unique to Tudor, so having just the remaining snowflake hour hand is ok with me. I’m not losing sleep over it at all!
Perhaps the biggest change in the design is the bracelet. Whilst you can get this on the standard oyster style, the Five-Link (Not Jubilee!) bracelet just works so well on this piece in real life. To be honest, when I first saw this when released at Watches and Wonders I wasn’t a fan at all. But it did grow on me, and seeing it person changed my mind. The construction is solid, and not too dissimilar to the Rolex Jubilee. The Rolex Jubilee has the flattened links inside, where as the Tudor the links are rounded, and the spacing between the links on the Tudor are closer together when compared to the Rolex. Side by side, they are very similar and hard to distinguish outside the light different in the steel – 904 vs 316L. The Five-Link changes the look of this watch massively, and having owned it now and worn it a lot for the past 2 months, it continues to catch my eye.
The introduction of the Tudor T-fit clasp was also another reason I wanted to try it, and inevitably another reason I bought the new Black Bay. Tudor have done a brilliant job in my opinion with this. The clasp is now simmer than the previous version, and the T-fit allows you to make micro-adjustments to the bracelet size on the go, which is a great win in my books. The polish on the clasp is a nice touch too, making it a slightly more elegant looking watch, and the Tudor logo now on the safety clasp just adds another touch to the whole look.
How It Wears
The short answer to this is very well. With all the design refinements mentioned above, these have added to the wearability of the piece. Overall, the new Black Bay on the Five-Link wears a little smaller than its previous generation and smaller than the GMT. The case refinements mean that it does look smaller on the wrist, not massively, but enough to notice the difference. Given the slimmer case, it sits better and more flush, and doesn’t appear to be as bulky, which was one criticism you would hear often about the Black Bay.
With the crown now sitting closer to the case, due to the way Tudor have designed the crown stem, there’s less rubbing on the back of the hand or wrist where the crown can sometimes touch in certain hand movements in day to day life. Another element that just helps the Black Bay to wear better.
The main difference in how this piece now wears comes down to the bracelet and the balance it gives to the watch’s aesthetic and how it hugs the wrist. Like a Jubilee, the Five-Link has more flexibility in it when compared to a standard three link or flat link bracelet. So the way the watch sits and bracelet shapes to the wrist feels better when wearing everyday.
The addition of the T-fit means that on those hotter days, you can easily loosen it with the flick of a finger, and on the cooler days, slide it in so it’s not lose around the wrist. This is something the original was missing, and in Summer I would have to adjust the bracelet using the small adjustment holes with a pin bar tool, and then back again in Winter when my wrist was smaller.
I also feel this is better designed than Rolex’s Glidelock. The Glidelock system is great, and does give you a lot of room for adjustment (slightly more than the Tudor’s 1cm), but you need to take the watch off the wrist to do this. With the T-fit, you just need to undo the bracelet and slip your finger under the clasp and lift up to extend out, and push back in when decreasing the length. Brilliant when on the go, and something I use frequently due to the weather at the moment.
As mentioned earlier in the article, the new Black Bay Third Generation has the new MT5602-U automatic movement inside. This is a fully in house movement, made by Tudor’s movement manufacturer, Kenissi. This is METAS certified, so it goes above and beyond the standard COSC, tested at two temperatures, in six different positions and at two different levels of power reserve: 100% and 33%. METAS certification means it’s more accurate than COSC, at 0/+5 seconds per day as opposed to -4/+6 for COSC.
Whilst I’ve owned this, the watch averages around 2-3 seconds per day fast at the most, and this is a combination of wearing it several times a week and when not, on a watch winder set to the right amount of revolutions per day. Its also anti-magnetic to over 15,000 gauss, the same as OMEGA models, effectively being impervious to any magnetic field in current households today. To give you an idea, the standard iPad or Phone is about 400 -500 gauss, and much, much less if they’re in a case.
Whilst I originally set out to just see and try on the new Tudor Black Bay Burgundy on the Five-Link bracelet with no real intention of buying it, once I did get to try it, I was sold. Admittedly, I do like Tudor as a brand and also their watches as I feel they are filling a void left by Rolex in the current market. They’re not afraid to try new things, and they do make great tool watches, something Rolex still does, but for most people aren’t as they are not worn this way due to their increasing value. With Tudor you can.
The Black Bay is a very easy to wear watch day in, day out. It looks good on the wrist, a great combination of sporty and dressy with the Five-Link bracelet, the gilt accents on the dial add to the more special nature of the piece and with the refined case, dial elements and T-fit clasp, it makes it almost the perfect daily for someone like me. Whilst it doesn’t have a date function, which is the main reason I let go of my original Black Bay with the blue bezel, for some reason I can overlook it on this specific watch. I do find myself going to check the date on it, and can be slightly annoying when not there, but I’m learning to live without it. It’s probably my only criticism.
Could Tudor make any more improvements to the piece? Perhaps. Maybe a ceramic bezel to make it more scratch proof could help, but this would change the vintage look a bit. Some people will still say the case could be slimmer, but in reality, this piece is slimmer when compared to the original and wears better due to the design. When you think that a Submariner is around 12mm thick, an Omega SMP300 about 13mm thick, for me, it’s sitting about where it needs to. Yes, it’s not quite the same with the same specs. But when you take into account the price of AUD $6,340, it’s less than half the price of the Sub, currently at $13,550 and 2/3rds the price of an Omega SMP300, now at $9,575 on the steel bracelet, you’re getting great bang for buck!
- Size: 41mm, 13mm thick, 49mm lug to lug
- Case: Stainless steel case with polished and satin finish
- Bezel: 60-notch uni-directional rotating bezel in stainless steel with burgundy anodised aluminium disc
- Crown: Stainless steel screw-down crown with the TUDOR rose in relief
- Dial: Domed black dial
- Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal
- Movement: Manufacture Calibre MT5602-U. Self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system Anti-magnetic silicon balance spring, vibrating at 4Hz / 28,800 vph, COSC and METAS Certified
- Water Resistance: Waterproof to 200m (660 ft)
- Bracelet: Five-link stainless steel bracelet with polished and satin finish with TUDOR “T-fit” clasp