The Tudor Heritage Black Bay, the somewhat pirate-y name aside, is a watch that you should be taking note of if you haven’t already. A quick recap for the uninitiated: Tudor Watches are a subsidiary of Rolex, set up by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf to provide an affordable alternative to Rolex. One of the original pieces was the Tudor Submariner, from which this Black Bay takes its inspiration.
It’s not often that a watch catches the eye from ten paces, but that’s exactly what Tudor has managed with the Black Bay. The striking, deep red bezel and copper-coloured hands and markers stand out rich and strong, with an olde worlde sepia feel to them appropriate to the title Heritage. Even the newer blue-bezelled version retains a nostalgia so easy to misjudge.
Of course, many watches can impress under the gleam of a showroom light display, yet even on a typically British, cloudy day the Black Bay’s colours retain a rich, velvety quality. Thats thanks in part to the matte black dial, another little vintage nod introduced by Tudor. Vintage nods abound, in fact, from the coin-edge bezel, the big crown, the rose logo, the dial font and layout, the absent crown guards, the snowflake hour hand . . . the list goes on. This is to vintage what the Pelagos—the Black Bay’s titanium twin—is to modern.
The price is vintage too, a reminiscence of the 90s when the Tudor’s big brother, the Rolex Submariner, cost less than £3,000. Some might argue that it’s still a touch pricey for a watch with an ETA 2824 movement, but what it lacks by way of an in-house engine it gains in build quality and detailing. Those faux-vintage details mentioned earlier are executed with aplomb, standing up to high magnification scrutiny admirably.
But here’s were it all falls apart, you may be thinking, here’s where Tudor put its foot in its mouth and makes the Black Bay ridiculously big. You’ll be pleased to know that the 41mm case is perfectly proportioned; it’s a tad larger than the Submariner, and is thick enough to protect that big crown, but it wears comfortably and feels very well judged. To go against the grain and size this watch close to its vintage brethren was a brave decision, and one that will hopefully catch on. Well played, Tudor.
Andrew Morgan is the editor of Watchfinder & Co.’s digital publication The Watch Magazine. Visit thewatchmagazine.com for more on watches, and watchfinder.co.uk to browse a selection of fine pre-owned watches.