Conceived by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1926, TUDOR combines superior craftsmanship with a rich heritage to create some of the most iconic modern timepieces on the market. With the launch of the Black Bay range in 2012, TUDOR have become an increasingly sought-after brand, with collectors scrambling to get their hands on these incredible timepieces.
Inspiration for the Black Bay Collection
Unveiled at Baselworld 2012, the TUDOR Black Bay collection serves as a great reminder of the watchmaking industry's love of nostalgia. Based on the 1958 iconic and somewhat experimental, Tudor ref. 7924 Submariner, the Black Bay is a modern, yet grounded, interpretation of the earlier Submariner models.
Featuring several different variations, the collection offers time-only models, GMTs and chronograph models. An excellent example of what a modern tool watch should be, the Black Bay balances functional design with useful capabilities, which have no doubt led to its success.
With most of its design language descending from those mid-fifties Submariners, the Black Bay comes complete with period-correct functions and traits. In essence, the Black Bay range can be characterised as a watch that merges everyday function with historical design and watchmaking excellence.
Functionally speaking, the Black Bay is designed as a dive watch, much like the Submariner ref. 7924 that it was inspired by. Several pieces of its design language can be attributed to its purpose as a dive watch.
One of the most visually striking aspects of the Black Bay's design is how pronounced its crown is. Without a crown guard to allow the case to flow around it, it seems more substantial than it wears in reality. This is possibly the most apparent link between the Black Bay and its inspiration. Dive watches require large pronounced crowns to facilitate use during diving, with divers often wearing gloves underwater, adding to their difficulty in operating smaller crowns.
The Black Bay also comes with a unidirectional rotating dive bezel that helps tie all references from the collection together. Another unifying element is TUDOR’s signature snowflake hands, which originated in 1969. This fusion of various elements from the Submariner's past makes the Black Bay its own modern watch.
With the Black Bay, TUDOR has managed to perfectly encapsulate watch collectors' love of nostalgia and yesteryear while also creating a timepiece that has already become a modern classic. Further entrenching the Black Bay within their portfolio, TUDOR released a new version of it in 2018.
The Black Bay 58 is Born
First launched in 2018, the TUDOR Black Bay 58 stands as a nod to the very same inspiration as its sibling Black Bay models, but with some changes made to its design that tie it to its roots even more. First released as a black on black model with vintage-inspired detailing and a comfortable construction, the Black Bay 58 was an immediate hit.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight ref. 79030N features several elements of vintage design that are seldom seen in the industry today. The black dial and bezel combinations are still popular choices to this day. The gold bezel markings, gold dial inscriptions and gold hour markers all feed off the gilt dials that were popular during the 1950s and '60s.
Furthermore, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight featured a smaller case than its sibling Black Bay references. Measuring in at 39mm and 12mm thick, the Black Bay ref. 79030N was more reminiscent of the timepieces that were commonly worn in the '50s. In fact, timepieces back then were far smaller than today, with 36mm being about as big as most were comfortable wearing. Still, dive watches were typically the exception as they required larger dials for greater visibility underwater.
As two final touches of heritage, TUDOR gave the Black Bay Fifty-Eight a bracelet design that incorporates faux rivets along its side and a heavily domed sapphire crystal. Both purely aesthetic choices, they are reflective of the manufacturing methods of the '50s. Bracelet links were not solid pieces of metal as they are now, but instead, hollow links held together by rivets and the crystals used were domed pieces of acrylic, not the scratch-resistant sapphire crystals that spoil us today.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight gets a Brother
Following TUDOR’s historical fondness for the colour blue, they decided to release a navy-blue dialled version of the Black Bay 58 in the summer of 2020 that comes with a matching matte blue anodised aluminium bezel.
The new blue Black Bay Fifty-Eight ref. 79030B comes as an exact match of its black and gold sibling, but it features an increasingly modern colourway. Aside from the most apparent change, black to blue, this latest version swaps the ref. 79030N's golden 'gilt' inscriptions for more modern silver inscriptions. This change acts to detach the latest blue Black Bay Fifty-Eight ref. 79030B from its vintage-inspirations somewhat and bring it into the contemporary horological discourse.
Available on either a soft touch strap, fabric strap or the aforementioned steel-riveted bracelet, the latest Black Bay Fifty-Eight is equally as functional as its older sibling but brings a modern design language to its silhouette via its change of colour scheme.
Functions and merit as pieces of your collection
Given that they are functionally identical, the defining factor when choosing between which reference to add to your collection, either the black ref. 79030N or the blue ref. 79030B, will ultimately be your personal taste.
With 200m water resistance and their COSC-certified in-house Manufacture Calibre. MT5402 self-winding movements featuring 70 hours of power reserve, both Black Bay Fifty-Eight models exist as profoundly accurate and robust timepieces that will undoubtedly make fantastic additions to your collection.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight models are arguably the most popular modern TUDOR timepieces by quite some margin. Should you be interested in purchasing either Black Bay Fifty-Eight models or any other TUDOR timepiece from us here at Paul Sheeran Jewellers, please feel free to reach out to our expert team.