It has been said for a number of years that Tudor is the ‘shield that protects the crown’ and yet at Baselworld 2018 it was time for the shield to join the crown as the siblings embarked on a shared journey in time…GMT time to be precise! Both Rolex and Tudor launched GMT watches in their line-ups. Rolex finally unveiled a stainless steel ‘Pepsi’ bezel GMT Master on a Jubilee bracelet. The various watch blogs and forums had been laden with speculation about a Rolex GMT-Master, but nobody saw the Tudor Black Bay GMT coming…it was shock. This was also a significant shift, in terms of a PR line, from Tudor who have worked hard to break away from the Rolex shadow. Is this a sign of things to come? Time will tell. As ever, were delighted to be able to road test the new BB GMT and so here we share with you our review. For sure the Tudor Black Bay GMT is already a great succes for Tudor.
Flakes of Time
The Tudor Heritage Black is arguably one of the biggest horological hits of recent times. Launched in 2012 as the Black Bay Red, the watch was a celebration of the vintage Tudor Submariners and was a awesome amalgam of the Big Crown and Snowflake Subs. Initially the purists were unsure about the juxtaposing of the two distinct house-styles, but nobody could argue the commercial impact of the watch that has opened up a whole new generation of watch buyers to the world of Tudor. There is now a full compliment of Black Bays including full size dive watches in red, blue, black and green (the Harrods edition). Oversize Bronze and reduced size BB58 (read our review here). Black Bay Chronograph? Check. PVD coated Black Bay Dark and polished steel bezel and date Black Bay Steel? Of course. The two-tone BB Steel and Gold is also a reality and then a plethora of different sized fixed bezel Black Bays with blue or black dials. This is a serious family that just got even bigger with the GMT.
A lot of people have said that this is Tudor’s first GMT watch. Its actually not, but not a lot of people would remember Tudor’s last dual-timezone watch the Aeronaut. Admittedly, it didn’t have a ‘Pepsi’ bezel but a 1655-esque fixed bezel with chrono-style pushers that jumped the 24-hour hand backwards or forwards. The Black Bay GMT takes its styling cues from the more traditional Oyster-cased GMT with a cool bezel insert in traditional ‘Pepsi’ colours. Where the new Rolex GMT-Master has very vivid red and blue ceramic bezel, the Tudor’s hues are much more muted and almost have a mellow aged look, which is much more vintage-esque in-the-flesh than it looks in the pictures. Being part of the Heritage collection the watch has a number vintage vibes that we will unpack. The first impression though is what a solid and well made piece this is; but then we expect that from Tudor now. The familiar Black Bay layout has a very different feel now that there is a red and blue bezel insert and the fresh look will make this a great watch for summer.
One of the fist and most obvious aspects to note is the case profile. Where a good number of modern watches have square lug edges, the Black Bay GMT has those glorious bevels that we are so used to seeing on vintage Oysters. This shot for me just captures the whole heritage aspect of this watch – the case profile with the rivet bracelet and then the ‘Pepsi’ bezel. This could be a picture from the 1950s!
One of my favourite touches is the all-red 24-hour hand. A long standing debate on these, within the vintage collecting world, rears its head at least once a year. Which watches should they be on and how can you spot an authentic one are a couple of the questions that have been discussed. Well, we can officially say that the 2018 Black Bay GMT does in fact have an all-red 24-hour hand, in the form of a shrunken snowflake hour hand. Its independently settable too, via a jump hour mechanism, so that the watch can technically monitor three time zones.
Production standards at Tudor are exceptional and the printing quality and finish on the dial are fantastic. The closed minute track and text are richly printed in silver and have an almost 3-D like quality that we see on a lot of Tudor’s recent offerings (see or Black Bay 58 review here). The applied hour markers are the perfect match to the hands and the overall effect is sleek and stylish.
This is a no-crown-guard watch and so it’s only fitting that it has a coin edge bezel. First seen on the Submariner inspired Black Bays, the coin edge bezel is a nod to the 7924 and 7922 Big Crown Subs from the 50s. Rolex’s 1950s GMT-Master reference 6542 was a watch without crown guards that also had this bezel type and it’s a nice touch on the Black Bay GMT.
Steel or fabric – these were the options for us with our GMT. Both options are cool in their own way. The steel bracelet is of rivet construction, A practice previously left behind by the Wilsdorf brands in the 1970s, but recently reinstated by Tudor. They add to the vintage vibe in spades, but also serve a purpose in being of very strong manufacturing quality.
The other option is the jacquard weave fabric strap. These straps are inspired by the military straps used by the French Navy, who were a key player in the development of Tudor tool watches. This watch is paired with a stealth-black colour strap with single red stripe, which perfectly compliments the red in the bezel. These straps really are of unparalleled quality, with fully adjustable clasp with keepers; both of which are finished beautifully with bevels that compliment the case profile. All about the details!
We have no doubt that this will be another smash hit for Tudor. The demand for these watches already far out-strips supply from ADs. Could we see supply restricted in the same way Rolex restricts steel sports watch supply? As we said earlier, time will certainly tell.
In the competition with the other brands and price range Tudor managed to launch another iconic timepiece, that might appeal maybe most to a wide watch loving audience, attracted to the iconic GMT look with a Tudor twist.
We just had to try this new Black Bay on a couple of our own straps. Either buckle strap or nato-style, it’s a watch that looks great Bulang Style.
The Tudor GMT on our Bulang and Sons 22 mm Diablo Strap, you can find here
Woow we loved this look… The Tudor GMT on our Bulang and Sons 22 mm Caramel Nato Strap, you can find here