Tudor. If I can be totally honest, this was a brand that I never really gave much thought to. This was a brand that sat on the other side of the Rolex AD and was glanced over as I walked out the door after I looked at a submariner or a sea-dweller. In short, this was a brand that didn’t really pique my interest at all. That was until one evening in September 2018 at a wine bar in Brisbane.
This is the story about a watch that I never knew existed and how I fell in love with it. A watch that after a short period of painful searching, I came to own.
Two days before I left for a European holiday, I walked through the doors of The Silver Fox Wine Bar and into a small event held by Tudor to showcase their new range of watches. As I moved my way through the bar, saying hello to all the regular watch group members, I looked at each of the watches on display. As usual, I liked what I saw but nothing truly caught my eye. I grabbed a drink from the bar and then proceeded toward the Tudor rep who was standing next to a few watches on a little table. “Have you seen the Black Bay GMT yet?”, he asked me. “Not yet”, I replied as he picked up a model on a bracelet. I took a good look at it. Rotating it a few times. Turning it into the light and then finally placing it on my wrist. “This is really nice”, I said as I let the watch settle under my jacket. “You should try it on the leather”, the rep then told me. The watch was also presented on a leather strap which I picked up. “Oh wow. This is awesome”, was my initial statement. At this very moment, I fell in love. Something about the watch on the leather strap, perhaps the way the vintage looking bezel matched the vintage look of the strap, just sung to me. I was hooked instantly. I wanted it then and there.
After a few minutes of admiring the Black Bay GMT on my wrist, I figured I should ask how much the RRP was. I figured that because the Rolex Pepsi was now the most hyped watch on the planet and that the Tudor was its younger brother, the price would be nudging somewhere between eight to ten thousand. I muscled up the courage and asked the rep “and how much is this?”. His response almost flawed me. “$4,290”. What?! A watch that looked this cool, with an in-house movement and GMT function was less than 5 grand? That was… unbelievable. I was so excited because, to be honest, I could afford this watch.
I quickly grabbed a few friends to show them the watch and to tell them the good news. What a great piece for a great price. The evening ended, and everyone went their separate ways. When I got home, I did the usual thing I do after a watch event; I told my wife about the evening and about the watches that I wanted. Of course, like usual, my wife did the thing she does after a watch event; roll her eyes at me.
Two days later we were off to France and Italy for a few weeks where we had a fantastic holiday and where I would walk in to every watch dealer I could and ask what would become a very repetitive question; “do you have a Black Bay GMT?”. To my surprise, no one had this watch. Often, I was met with responses from the dealers like “yea we’re looking for one too” or “you’re looking at a 6 month wait for that one”.
Our holiday was fabulous and carried on through Paris, Nice, Portofino, Como and Milan where I would always do the same thing; go through all the watch stores around, much to the disdain of my wife I’m sure and ask that same question. No one had it. At one point I was close when the dealer told me “you just missed one by a few hours”. Frustrated and empty handed, we eventually headed to the airport in Milan to start our long journey home to Brisbane and it was at this point that I thought my search was finally over. Finally, at the airport in Milan, I found a little Tudor AD who had a Black Bay GMT on a tray, on the counter.
“Oh my god”, I said to my wife. “This is it. They have it”. I was so happy. There it was in front of me. The watch I had been searching for in every city we went to. There was nothing between me and the watch, but I still felt the need to grab it, so it couldn’t escape. A few moments later, the salesperson walked over to us and I asked her the question that I needed to hear the right answer to. “Is this for sale?”. I was met with an answer that actually hurt my heart. An answer that I didn’t want to accept. “Unfortunately, no, this watch is reserved for another person”. What? It’s sitting here with a price tag on it. It’s on the counter with all the other watches. Surely you cannot deny me my God-given right to hand over my money in exchange for this watch. I actually argued with the salesperson for 10-15 minutes (nicely of course). I even had her call her manager who wasn’t working that day to explain to him how important it was that she sell me the watch. Despite all my begging (I literally begged) and pleading, they wouldn’t sell me the watch. There was nothing I could do, and I was quite devastated. I had it in my hands and yet I couldn’t buy it. I left with my head down and rushed through customs toward our flight. My time spent begging the salesperson had unfortunately now made us late to our flight and we had to fight our way past the other people in the queue to make it on time. Which we did. Phew.
Back in Australia I didn’t really think much of the GMT. I figured that if I went in to a dealer, I would just be another person on an eternal wait list. I didn’t even attempt to buy one. I started looking at other watches I had my eye on prior to seeing the GMT for the first time. Watches that I was likely able to walk in to a dealer and purchase then and there. Things changed though on a Saturday afternoon when I received a call from one of my friends who was in a local AD, looking at a watch for his dad.
He was looking at a gold Daytona when the salesperson asked him if he’d had a chance to see Tudor’s latest creation; the GMT. One had arrived that day and was about to go out on display. My friend had a look and recognized it as the watch I was searching for. The reason it hadn’t been sold was because it was on the NATO strap. You see, it turns out that when people put their name on the wait list, they only requested the watch on the bracelet. It was pure chance that no one had their name on the NATO version and my friend was there that day. He promptly called me to tell me they had it in stock and for sale.
I was sitting on my lounge when I received the call and I was pretty excited. The only issue was that my wife had taken our car and was working at the office. She had left me with our daughter and I had no way of making it in to the store to get the watch. I asked my friend if the store could hold the watch until the next day when I would be able to make it in. “Unfortunately, we cannot hold the watch”, was the response he was given by the salesperson. Dammit, I thought. Yet again, the GMT has slipped through my fingers. Luckily though, the store owner’s son was in earshot of the conversation and chimed in. My friend and I had met him through the Brisbane watch group and he was nice enough hold the watch for 24 hours which would give me enough time to pick it up.
The next day, I headed in to the store. The day had finally come where I would be able to buy the watch I was chasing for quite some time. I tried it on. The salesperson explained the functions and set the time for me. I swiped my card and the watch was mine. I never really looked at it on the NATO before, but it suits the watch perfectly. So perfectly in fact, that I’ve kept it on the NATO since. The strap is truly high quality and feels great on the wrist. It accentuates the colours of the dial and the bezel. It seems to draw your attention more toward the watch itself rather than the bracelet and so I think it’s an excellent combination.
After leaving the store, my friend and I did what we always do after we buy a new watch; we went for some drinks and food at a local bar to celebrate. This time we headed down to Eagle Street where we had lunch at a bar by the water. We also invited the owner of the AD’s son to celebrate with us as if it weren’t for him, the watch would be on someone else’s wrist. I can’t thank him enough.
When I got home, I stood in my front yard and let the sun glisten off the brand-new Black Bay GMT. I turned it into and away from the light letting it change colour as it rotated. What a beauty. It was even more beautiful than I remembered when I saw it months prior at the wine bar. I suppose this was the first time I saw it in the light. I wore it every day for the next few months. I wore it to work in a suit. I wore it on the weekends in a t-shirt and I wore it into the surf when my family and I went up to the beach for a weekend away. In all situations, the watch was great. It looks great regardless of what I’m wearing, and I really feel it can be worn for any occasion. A truly great, versatile timepiece that I will certainly keep for the rest of my life.
Tudor. A brand I now admire fondly. Thank you for making such a beautiful watch that I now call my own. The Black Bay GMT.