Each year Team Bulang makes the pilgrimage to Switzerland for the annual watch and jewelry show Baselworld. This year’s trip saw us witness a number of interesting watches that we will be discussing over the coming week. As usual, however, we started with one of favorite brands – Tudor. Here’s our recap of Tudor at Baselworld 2017…
For One Night Only
The Tudor Baselworld kick-off party has become one of the highlights of the annual event. This year was no different and we were transported to a warehouse that had been converted, for one night only, into the Tudor Heritage Cafe. A large industrial space was given a facelift by the Tudor team where a bar, street food wagons and a live band were installed to feed, water and entertain the assembled invitees.
The entertainment was courtesy of Charlie Chaplin’s Grandson! Rock n Roll and Rock classics were the order of the day…
We were treated to cheeseburgers, fries, salads, noodles and some of the best strudel that we have have eaten…ever!
And then, as we have learnt to expect at these parties, we were given an exclusive glimpse of the new watch for 2017 – the Black Bay Chronograph.
In a neat 41mm case, the Black Bay Chrono is housed in typical Black Bay-esque case with the signature ‘big crown’ and snowflake hands, which have actually been reduced in size a little for this watch. The inclusion of the date at 6 0’clock on the dial is a classic Tudor aesthetic, especially without the date bubble. One of our favourite touches are the ‘Mk0’ inspired pushers that take their styling cues from the very first pushers seen on the early Homeplate chronos from 1970.
It is clear that Tudor has a big hit on its hands in term of the Black Bay line of Heritage watches. The orginal Black Bay Red was one of the biggest talking points when launched at Baselworld in 2012 and over subsequent years the line has been augmented with some truly groundbreaking watches by the brand’s previous standards. The BB Bronze, BB Dark and the very cool BB36; all amazing pieces. And there was more to come the day after…
Expanding The Family
The main news at the press launch was that the Black Bay family is expanding. We already knew about the chrono, but there was more – The BB Steel, BB Steel and Gold and the BB41 were all new for 2017.
Man of Steel
The steel is a raw, no nonsense watch – no doubt. The dial retains the red depth rating and silver font that we first saw on the BB Dark, but the addition of the date is the first time it’s graced the Black Bay family. And it works really well in my mind. It balances nicely against the 9 o’clock marker; an effect that is helped by the absence of a date bubble. The circular brushing of the steel insert is a nice touch and it looks more ‘solid’ than the usual aluminum inserts. The steel insert is also a reference to what vintage collectors refer to as a ‘ghost’ bezel, where the Black has faded and worn down to a light grey or silver effect. It’s actually not the first time that this steel colour bezel insert has been used. For a short period in the 1990s, on the very last sapphire glass Tudor Submariner date model reference 79190, there was a similar look that I am sure Tudor is referring to in this Heritage piece. For me, its a winner!
The Wolf of Wall Street
It’s a rare thing to see a two-tone Tudor sports watch. In fact, aside from the late 90s sapphire Chronos and some of the mid-size Subs from the same era, there haven’t really been any. Step forward the Black Bay Steel and gold, or BB S&G as it was referred to. Not many people would have seen this coming – but we’re glad it did. Again benefitting from the newly added date function, the S&G features an 18t yellow gold bezel, winding crown and rolled gold centre links on the bracelet; which are brushed. This works beautifully and is a lot less brash than on its coronetted close cousin. Full on 80s power watch and every bit the star at this year’s launch. I love this watch!
The yellow gold hands and hour plot surrounds are a lovely touch against the gilt coloured text on the dial. The in-house movement is now standard across all the Black Bay family.
All About the Date – No Bubble
As I’ve mentioned above, the most obvious change to previous watches in the BB line is the addition of the date function. The Cyclops was first introduced by Rolex in 1954 and yet the watch community remains divided on whether or not it’s a good look or not. I’m in the latter camp and so to the lack of date bubble is a winner. Tudor have actually pretty much avoided using it in many of their recent out put including the Heritage Chronograph and the Pelagos. For one, I’m grateful for this!
Again, the watches have the vintage vibe enhanced by the steel rivet bracelet that we first saw with the introduction of the Mk2 Black Bays last year. Far from being an aesthetic whimsy, these rivets are key structural features of the bracelets on the Black Bay Steel.
Black is Back (Again)
There is no doubt that the Black Bay line is here to stay and will continue to be a flagship line of the Tudor brand. The Black Bay One set a world record for a Tudor watch sale when the first ever Wilsdorf group ‘piece unique’ was auctioned at the Only Watch charity auction in 2015. Whatever comes next I am sure will be equally well received as there is one thing for sure – the Black Bay is here to stay!