A week with the Tudor Black Bay GMT


by Nils Rau

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July 11. 2019 - by Nils Rau

The Tudor Black Bay GMT caused a sensation at Baselworld 2018 and is still one of Tudor's most coveted models. I wore the watch for a week and am thrilled by the casualness of the Black Bay GMT. Read ahead to find out my experiences.


Tudor, the creative forge of Rolex SA

The Tudor brand was founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1926, 21 years after Rolex SA was founded. For many years, Tudor was regarded as an inexpensive Rolex alternative: both watches had roughly the same appearance, whereas Tudor watches were mostly equipped with additional ETA movements. After a few very quiet years around Tudor, the brand made its breakthrough in 2010 with the launch of the Heritage collection. Since the success story of the Black Bay launching in 2012, Tudor has been an integral part of the watchmaking world.

While Rolex has successfully dedicated itself to the careful evolution of watch models, Tudor can - at least by Rolex standards - devote itself to the revolution. The watches are much more experimental and, in contrast to the models of their parent company, can follow current trends (just think of bronze). At Tudor there are two diving watch lines: The Pelagos, with its titanium case, diving depth of up to 500 metres and innovative diver's clasp, is a professional, uncompromising tool watch. The Black Bay, on the other hand, is known for its heritage charm and its varied facets.

When the Tudor Black Bay GMT was presented at Baselworld 2018, the surprise was huge. All eyes were on Rolex and in the rumour mill, Rolex Pepsi rumours were brewing. However, nobody was expecting the Black Bay GMT, and somehow this watch was exactly what one would have expected from Rolex. It is no exaggeration to say that the Black Bay GMT was the secret star of Baselworld 2018. 

First impressions

It took a good year since the release for the Black Bay GMT to find its way to me. I was already thinking about how to complete my watch collection for a few weeks. In the end, I was missing a GMT watch for travelling. I noticed relatively fast that the Black Bay GMT is unparalleled: Where else can you get a luxury watch with a genuine GMT function, a manufacturer's movement, 200 meters of water resistance and so much understatement that you can wear it anywhere in the world without hesitation? While trying on the watch, I spontaneously decided to buy it.

On the very first day, I noticed how incredibly uncomplicated the watch is: simply wear it and enjoy it. That's probably because the Black Bay GMT has a certain nonchalance. The size of 41 millimetres on the arm roughly corresponds to the current Rolex sports models. The often criticised height of almost all Black Bay models (only exception: Black Bay 58) doesn't bother me at all, although I'm an avowed ultra-thin lover. The Black Bay GMT sits perfectly on the back of the wrist thanks to the case and the rather flat bottom. The very flat buckle (comparable to the buckles of the old Rolex references 16710 and 16570) also contributes to this.

When the Tudor Black Bay GMT was presented at Baselworld 2018, the surprise was huge. All eyes were on Rolex and in the rumour mill, Rolex Pepsi rumours were brewing. However, nobody was expecting the Black Bay GMT, and somehow this watch was exactly what one would have expected from Rolex. It is no exaggeration to say that the Black Bay GMT was the secret star of Baselworld 2018. 

Tudor Black Bay GMT: Design and workmanship

Since then a good week has passed and the Black Bay GMT was on my wrist every day from morning till night. First of all, my enthusiasm hasn't diminished a bit since then. I wasn’t a fan of most of the Black Bay models, but the Black Bay GMT is different: The overall appearance is finely differentiated, detailed and charming. The matt dial has a well-dosed grain effect, the case chamfers round off the look and the colour balance of the watch is extremely harmonious. The colour scheme of the aluminium bezel contributes to the differentiated look: Both the blue and red are kept very simple, the blue is dark and reserved, the red leans towards burgundy. The slightly curved sapphire crystal matches the rest of the watch.

The solid bracelet is comfortable to wear and the studded look is inconspicuous in everyday life. Fortunately, the same applies to the gradual rejuvenation [photo?] of the bracelet. I may not really like it, but it's so inconspicuous that it would be a bit too harsh to see it as a point of criticism: While Rolex's Oyster ribbons taper continuously from case to ribbon, the first three ribbon links gradually become narrower.

Curved glass, aluminium bezel, case bevels, studded bracelet: that sounds like heritage. But the Heritage factor isn't that huge. It's no secret that all Black Bay models are Heritage watches, inspired by old Tudor models and a homage to the Rolex Submariner. Nevertheless, there is no vintage feeling. My Moonwatch radiates more vintage flair than the Black Bay GMT, which despite the heritage elements feels like a current and "perfect" watch through and through. After a week with the watch, I would describe what is commonly referred to as the Heritage in the Black Bay GMT as the use of classic style elements. 

Some reviews criticise the use of a third Snowflake hand with the GMT hand as too much of a good thing, which I can't understand after an intense week with the Black Bay GMT. While the Snowflake hour hand is striking, the second hand and GMT hand are not. In my opinion, the Black Bay design was continued harmoniously here. How could the GMT hand have been designed differently? 

All in all, the watch has a very high quality finish. The 24-hour bezel can be turned in 48 steps (30 minutes each), the massive strap is also perfectly finished. The hands are perfectly set and the silver print on the dial is just as flawless as the polished case. However, there is no way to quickly adjust the strap without the need for tools with the buckle requiring one tool to be finely adjusted in three stages. 

Caliber MT5652 with real GMT function

Tudor offers an impressive manufacturer’s caliber with the MT5652 double-sided automatic winding system. Inside, Tudor has built in an anti-magnetic silicon spring. The power reserve is 70 hours. The genuine GMT function has been completely integrated into the movement (no module!) and makes it possible to turn the main hour hand one hour at a time with the first crown setting.

The COSC certification keeps its promise: After one week, the rate deviation is less than five seconds. This is less than one second per day and an incredible value for a mechanical watch.

Conclusion

With the Black Bay GMT, Tudor has really stepped it’s game up. The watch is casual yet still a functional Swiss luxury watch. Not only is the combination of a manufacturer’s movement, 200 metres of water resistance and GMT function almost a unique selling point, but Tudor has also created a perfect and harmonious watch. In addition, the price-performance ratio of the watch is unbeatable. With a price of around 4,000.00 Euros, you can hardly find a watch that offers so much.

I'm looking forward to taking the Black Bay to another time zone for the first time and wearing it on one or the other leather strap. As you can see, the watch has only been with me for a week, but I still have a lot to do with it. 

Nils Rau

by Nils Rau

Nils is a guest author for the CHRONEXT Journal. He currently dedicates most of his free time to wristwatches – be that talking with friends, browsing through blogs and online magazines, or keeping an eye on the timepiece stock exchange. When he is not contributing to the CHRONEXT Journal, he works as a junior lawyer in Northern Germany. His articles focus on brands, trends, as well as the philosophical questions within the world of fine watches.

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