Since Tudor’s inception in 1926, the brand has served as a feeder market of sorts to its big brother Rolex. For decades, Tudor watches shared cases, bracelets and crowns with Rolex, leaving the brand feeling like the lesser amongst watch enthusiasts.
However, Tudor has seen a resurgence in popularity since the introduction of the Black Bay range in 2012. In 2016, the world welcomed the Tudor Black Bay 36.
Has Tudor finally cemented itself as a peer of its creator, or is there work still to be done?
The Tudor Black Bay 36, as the naming convention suggests, features a 36mm wide case constructed of both satin brushed and polished stainless steel. The case bears remarkable resemblance to the oyster style cases used by Rolex, and it’s not a surprise to see Tudor go with something similar in the Black Bay 36. After all, if it aint broke, don’t fix it right?
The watch is comfortable and familiar on the wrist, so don’t let the 36mm sizing throw you off. Whilst it seems a little on the smaller side for a modern men’s offering, the Black Bay 36 feels like a modern watch on the wrist. It carries itself remarkably well, thanks to the incredible build quality and contrast between the finishes on the case and the character exuding from the dial.
There is a high polish executed on the non-rotating bezel that catches the light and your eye at every opportunity. The bezel acts as a perfect frame for the deep, glossy black dial and stark white indices. The dial on the Tudor Black Bay 36 is a masterclass in black dial simplicity. It may seem basic at first glance, but spend any amount of time with this watch and you quickly come to realize just how good simple can be. The applied circle and stick indices are generously coated with superluminova, so too are the snowflake hands. There is a minute track outboard that so very nearly reaches the outer edge of the dial but leaves just enough room that the dial seems to sink into the case and offers a hidden depth to the watch.
The lugs extend seamlessly and are satin brushed to match the bracelet and end links. There is a very well executed but subtle chamfered edge, leading to the polished flanks of the case. Tudor have opted for a larger vintage inspired, screw down crown with horizontal knurling and is stamped with a gorgeous Tudor rose logo, which all adds up to a classic timepiece that is appropriate for every day wear.
Throughout the Black Bay line, Tudor have leaned heavily on their heritage of the brand. This leads to some nice features like the snowflake hands, shield logo on the dial, Tudor rose on the crown and the signature Tudor smile for the text above 6’oclock. It does feel like Tudor is really hitting this watch with the Heritage stick and not knowing when to stop. Thankfully, the watch stops short of a riveted bracelet and nasty pressed clasp.
In fact, what Tudor have done with the bracelet and clasp for this piece is something big brother Rolex should definitely take note of. A three-link oyster style bracelet is quite possibly the most comfortable and wearable bracelet for every occasion. The female mid link leading into solid end links is a design choice that makes this watch wearable for any wrist size. The lack of a protruding mid-link means this watch wears comfortably and contorts to the wearer, rather than siting flat and proud on a smaller wrist.
Then there is the clasp.
At first glance it appears fairly standard for a modern luxury watch. Three levels of micro adjustment, satin finish and a fold over security keeper. The security keeper is framed as the shield logo, which shows a degree of detailing that shows you Tudor care about the little things. For example, the connection of the clasp, where Tudor have added ceramic pins to the connection point. This means that throughout the life of the watch, the connection of the clasp will never loosen and will be as crisp as the day it left Geneva and as it will be decades from now. Having peace of mind that once the clasp is closed, it will not open accidently, all adds to the Tudor Black Bay 36 being a great every day wear.
Of late, Tudor have pushed to offer a higher quality product whilst maintaining a more affordable price point. However, the lack of a quality in house movement for the Black Bay 36 is disappointing. The model offers a modified ETA 2824 beating at 28,800VPH and features a 40 hour power reserve, hacking and hand winding. It’s a fine choice of movement and serviceable for the life of the piece, but it is nothing to write home about and feels as though Tudor could have really hit it out of the park by offering a higher end movement in the watch or even an extended power reserve.
The Tudor Black Bay 36 has been aimed squarely at the Explorer and the OP39, offered by the monolithic house of Rolex. Tudor have assembled a watch that feels like it is built to last generations and is classy enough to take on any occasion. Whilst at times, it feels that the brand was unsure which era they wanted the Black Bay 36 to harken back to, the movement feels like a it was measure to keep costs down. There is a watch here that, if said Rolex on the dial, would not feel out of place. Tudor have succeeded in offering watch buyers an everyday time piece built with quality and style, that is accessible to every level of luxury watch buyer.
Tudor Black Bay 36 specification:
Case Diameter : 36.0 mm, thickness 10.5 mm
Case: Satin and high polish stainless steel
Movement: Automatic Calibre 2824 (modifed ETA 2824)
Power Reserve: Approximately 40 hours
Functions: Hours and minutes with centre seconds. Hacking and hand winding automatic.
Water Resistance: 150m
Australian Retail Pricing : $4000.00
Local Authorised Dealers :
- Brisbane – The Hour Glass
- Gold Coast – Monards
- Melbourne – The Hour Glass, Watches of Switzerland and Kennedy
- Sydney – The Hour Glass, Swiss concept, Watches of Switzerland and Kennedy
- Perth – Watches of Switzerland and Kennedy