The Heritage Black Bay diver orchestrated quite the renaissance for Tudor. Ever since the Heritage Black Bay broke cover at BaselWorld 2012, Tudor has gained ground on its competition and myriad new fans along the way.
Since that launch we’ve seen a host of variations on the Black Bay recipe - differing bezel and face colours, different case sizes, multiple bracelet and strap option, etc - but the version we’re looking at here represents the bravest move from Tudor yet.
With the Heritage Black Bay Dark, Tudor has leveraged the trend for aftermarket, all black watches, and created such a beast itself. The 41mm case is PVD coated, giving it a beautifully uniform matte black finish, while the face and bezel are also black, along with the crown - make no mistake, this is a very black watch. It’s worth noting that while the black finish is undoubtedly appealing, and sets the Black Bay Dark apart from its siblings, it’s also something of a marketing exercise. This watch, and the recently launched Black Bay Chronograph Dark, are the official timepieces of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team - see what they did there? Thankfully, and arguably very cleverly on Tudor’s part, there is no obvious association with the All Blacks visible on the watch itself.
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The black is broken up somewhat by the white numerals around the bezel and the hour markers on the face, while the large, snowflake hands help bring just enough light to proceedings, without spoiling the intended darkness of the design.
The signature large crown draws attention to itself, despite having no contrasting colour, while the lack of crown guard makes it even more prominent, dominating the right side of the case. The case itself is a good size that would suit a large cross section of buyers - 41mm is fairly conservative, although the trend for oversized watches seems to have waned somewhat - and won’t dominate smaller wrists.
The original Heritage Black Bay employed an ETA 2824 movement, and there was really nothing wrong with that. It was a solid and reliable choice, found in a plethora of timepieces in and around the pricepoint that Tudor pitched its diver at. But the Black Bay Dark comes equipped with an in-house movement designed and manufactured by Tudor. The calibre MT5602 is an automatic movement with a 70 hour power reserve, and a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. The MT5602 is also COSC certified, which is a nice touch, and will certainly make the Black Bay Dark even more attractive to some buyers.
While the diameter of the case isn’t excessive, it is quite chunky, sitting noticeably prouder on the wrist than a Rolex Submariner does. Whether that’s good or bad is, as is often the case with watches, a matter of taste. To be fair, the girth of the case is somewhat exacerbated by the strap we chose. The Heritage Black Bay Dark comes with three strap options - a black PVD coated steel bracelet, a black aged leather strap and a dark grey fabric strap. We chose the latter, and while it proved to be incredibly comfortable on the wrist, and very easy to adjust, it did look slightly at odds with the thick case design.
Like all dive watches, the Black Bay Dark has a unidirectional bezel, which can be easily employed as a visual marker for minutes spent under the water. The bezel itself is constructed from anodised matte black aluminium, which looks totally in keeping with the PVD-treated steel case. In a world dominated by ceramic bezels the Black Bay Dark feels slightly retro, but given its heritage positioning, that’s no bad thing.
The Black Bay Dark is rated to a depth of 200m, which is somewhat at odds with the more usual 300m rating seen on dive watches like the Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster. Whether that matters to you really comes down to whether you’re actually a diver, and then whether you’d actually wear a watch like this when you do dive. It’s probably a safe bet that the vast majority of dive watches have never been deeper than your average swimming pool.
At £3,010 the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark is quite the bargain given its in-house movement and COSC chronometer certification. But this isn’t a watch that you’d be drawn to because of its keen price, it’s an undeniably handsome timepiece with the kind of retro-chic appeal that makes it almost timeless. And while the original Heritage Black Bay ticked many of the right boxes, that beautifully uniform black finish elevates the Black Bay Dark above its siblings, and so many of its contemporaries. And now that England have knocked New Zealand out of the Rugby World Cup, you can buy one without feeling guilty.
For more, visit tudorwatch.com
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