I have long been a fan of the Black Bay clan, back to the original Black Bay Red when it was first announced in 2012. Since then we have seen the line expand into what is arguably one of Tudor’s most successful watches. The ‘Midnight Blue’ was a particular hit with Team B&S, with its nod to the blue vintage watches utilized by the French National Navy (Marine Nationale). We wore that watch a lot (between us!) on holiday in the Med, wind swept beaches in Wales and drives through Europe. The recently released Black Bay Black (‘Triple B’ – remember, you heard it here first!) was a smash hit for Tudor and so it made total sense for them to add to this cool line of watches…and Baselworld this year was the year of the Black Bay. You can read all about the watches here, but today I’m talking about the Black Bay Dark.
For many years now, the ‘art’ of PVD coating Tudor and Rolex sports watches has been incredibly popular, with a number of brands being set up to solely customize watches on an either bespoke one-off basis or very limited short runs. Whilst PVD coating watches isn’t new (Heuer were doing it back in the 60s) it has been a fairly recent phenomenon and has seemingly been most popular on Oyster sports watches. One technicality of such a customization is, however, the total voiding of any warranty with Rolex for maintenance of the watch; the brand being quietly vocal about their displeasure in the third party work carried out on such pieces. Taking all this into account, it was a surprise to have this watch presented to us at the Tudor dinner at Basel this year. A big surprise that the Wilsdorf family had embraced the concept and officially released such a piece, but maybe slightly less surprising that it was through Tudor who seem to be afforded a lot more freedom to ‘play’ with concepts and push the boundaries of the accepted ‘Rolex Way’.
And so onto the watch itself. The Black Bay Dark will be generally familiar to everybody, with its signature snowflake hands, no-crown-guard case and domed crystal. The execution of the case is slightly different to earlier incarnations, due to the inclusion of the in-house caliber. The slightly domed caseback is a comforting sight to vintage fans and the newer lug profiles give the watch a sleek edge. The entire Black Bay range, including the existing Red, Blue and Black, now feature the shield logo on the dial, to represent the new inclusion of the manufacture movement (with the exception of the Black Bay 36, which retains a modified ETA caliber).
One of my personal favourite aspects of the Black Bay Black was the red triangle at 12 o’clock on the insert. This was classy touch that harked back to the 1950’s era of ‘Big Crown’ Submariners. The red triangle is present on the Dark, but there is another heritage touch to pique the interest of die-hard fans…the inclusion of a red font for the depth rating. The red text depth rating on a dive watch is most famously attached to the Rolex Red Submariner reference 1680, known to collectors as the ‘Red Sub’. However, Rolex and Tudor’s use of red for the depth rating on watches originated in the 1950s, primarily on diving watch references such as the Rolex 6538, 6536 and a very rare Tudor Submariner – the manual wind reference 7923.
There are only currently two known examples of the red-depth 7923 and Tudor UK were fortunate enough to secure a loan of one of the known examples for the Black Bay Dark launch event in London. It was a stunning watch and you can clearly see the influence on the dial of the BBD. Tudor have given us some exclusive pics to share with you here!
One of only two known examples – Tudor Submariner ref 7923 ‘Red Depth’
Tudor Submariner ref 7923 ‘Red Depth’ – The red font depth rating was the inspiration for the Black Bay Dark
Tudor Submariner ref 7924 ‘Big Crown’ with the red triangle insert – more Tudor Heritage inspiration
Like all Tudor Heritage watches a fabric strap accompanies the Dark, whether you opt for the PVD steel bracelet or leather strap. The supplied fabric strap is a very cool military inspired grey colour that Tudor call anthracite. In my mind, it is on this strap that the watch comes into its own and the black really stands out. Interestingly, when we saw the watch on the bracelet at Baselworld it had straight endlinks, as per the Heritage Ranger but due to AD reactions the decision was made to switch to flush fit endlinks – I think this was the right move. I am a big fan of the straight endlinks on vintage watches and thought it was brilliant on the Ranger. In the context of the PVD watch, however, to my eye the flush fit endlinks look a lot better.