This Tudor Heritage Black Bay has got some very real gravitas, or inherent star power, if you prefer. And why not? Its family pedigree starts with Rolex, and from there evolves into a brand that is, I think, far more complimentary of, rather than secondary to, the Rolex brand. In other words, I think it’s a very big mistake to think of the Tudor brand as being somehow lesser, or less well made, or not as stylish as that of its somewhat better-known horological relative.
However, having said that, I’m not about to do a compare-and-contrast piece between this Black Bay and, say, a Rolex Submariner. First off, it’s too easy to step on someone else’s toes when it comes down to opining as to which brand is actually “better” than the other. Secondly, it distracts from the review of the one watch – in this case, the Tudor – and becomes little more than a high school term paper with sketchy research. Lastly, I do not as yet own a Rolex Submariner, so I’d basically be going with my rectal database on that one, something I am loathe to do, especially since it seems such a common practice among so many of us “gifted amateurs” who slave away over a hot keyboard every day.
So now that those basic ground rules have been explained and put into place, we can go ahead and get started with my review of this amazing – and, for some, a grail – watch. (Yeah, I know, the “G-word” rears its ugly head...just take a few deep breaths, and the nausea will pass.)
PACKAGING & GOODIES (AKA “Da Swag!”)
Issues like packaging and goodies (AKA “da swag!“) don’t always mean a lot to every collector, as evidenced by all the myriad watch boxes stacked up in my garage that I haven’t a clue as to what to do with yet. However, when you’re talking about a brand like Tudor, it’s just a given that you’re going to expect more from them than a cardboard-based life form (a little Star Trek humor there) in which to store your higher-end watch(s). I recall a few years back, when Chase-Durer came out with a watch that had an aluminum slug from a melted down USAF B-52 bomber built into its exhibition case back; instead of putting the watch in one of their typically well-made wooden boxes, it came in a very cheap plastic “clamshell” case that didn’t even bother with a spring-back closure. And Chase-Durer heard about it, and not just from packaging aficionados, either; we’re talking about complaints from collectors who typically didn’t give a rodent’s posterior about such things on any other day.
The good news, as far as this particular high-end brand is concerned, is that you get pretty much what you’d expect from a brand that is so closely related to the “Crown guys.”
The storage box is, of course, wooden, but it has a beautifully black lacquered – AKA “piano black” – finish that seamlessly incorporates the Tudor name and logo onto the top. On the inside is a faux swede-finished lining that feels for all the world like the real thing. It features a removable tray (under which you can hide all those troublesome spare $100 bills that take up all the extra room in your wallet) and an unusually-shaped watch pillow that, if you turn upside down and view from the side, looks for all the world like the Glycine logo:
There’s the usual pocket for the information booklet, guarantee paperwork and warranty card, the latter two of which are presented in their own genuine leather business card holder. There’s even a nice slot in front for the NATO-style strap that comes gratis (that’s “free,” for those of you Rio Lindo), any extra links you may have, and the little tag that’s always doggedly attached to the bracelet when you first remove the watch from its little pillow. And why do we keep this little tag? I dunno…maybe because it's free?
The box is a nice, heavy affair that features nice, thick felt on the bottom to protect your Louis XIV dresser. Its outer protective box is of thick, fabric-reinforced and pressed cardboard, and that is lined with a thin-but-tough foam rubber that feels like it’s actually more rubber than foam. And all of that is slid into a thin cardboard sleeve that protects the protective box from the packing materials inside the mailing box. In other words, it’s all wrapped up very nicely, so much so that I personally believe the watch itself would easily survive at least 250 years of a life without humans, like in the TV program of the same name. (And even longer, if stored in your very own personal fireproof watch safe; you know, like we all have secreted away behind our painting of the old man & the sea, down in the rumpus room…)
LIST ‘O FEATURES
Model: Heritage Black Bay
Model Number: 79220R
Gender: Men's (Note 1)
Approximate Age: 2010 - Present
Movement: Automatic, 25 jewels
Caliber: MT5602 (COSC) (Note 2)
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Water Resist: 200m (660 ft)
Case Size: 41 mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Band Type: Bracelet (Note 3)
Bracelet: Stainless Steel “Rivet”
Bezel: Stainless Steel
Dial Color: Black
Bezel Color: Maroon (Note 4)
Lume: Super Luminova™
Reviewer’s Notes: (1) While it’s listed as a man’s watch, either gender can easily wear and enjoy it; just ask Lady Ga-Ga, the official brand ambassador! (2) Models made before late 2016 featured the ETA 3832. All Heritage Black Bays made after 2017 feature the newer, in-house MT5602 (COSC) automatic movement. (3) A second band is provided, with a very thick black fabric strap & stainless steel “butterfly” closure. (4) Other bezel colors: black, blue.
I’m tempted to just write here, “It’s a beautiful watch, so pick your own five or half a-dozen adjectives for ‘beautiful’ and then look at the pretty pix.” Of course, I can’t do that and still call myself a serious writer, so I suppose I’d better add a passel (or two) of adjectives to suit the tastes of even the most word-gifted among us. But I still think I’ll go a bit picture-centric here, if it’s all right with you all (“all y’all,” for those of you south of the Mason-Dixon Line).
I love divers. There’s a sense of toughness about them, irrespective of how tough (or un-tough) the wearer is (or isn’t). Their basic formula of steel case + distinctive bezel + distinctive dial is a consistent winner in the world of horology, and the vast majority of collectors seem to have at least one or two in their respective collections. Some diver models are easily recognizable, even with their brand names excised from their photos, and this Tudor Heritage Black Bay is certainly within that category of timepiece. Others aren’t quite so distinctive, but their adherence to this basic case-bezel-dial formula always makes for a rugged, attractive, and, sometimes even beautiful dive watch.
I personally think that this Tudor model is both distinctive and beautiful. The stainless steel case, dark red bezel and black dial (with dramatic gold seconds hand, minute scale and text) all make it easily identifiable, and even iconic, for die-hard fans of the brand, but it’s also a combination that simply dazzles in its own special beauty. Take a few moments for a really close inspection of the dial and bezel, and see if you don’t agree with me:
Of course, as already noted above, there are two other bezel colors in the Heritage Black Bay Collection (dark blue, black), and I would assert that all three of Tudor’s Black Bay watch color combinations are equally as easy to recognize, in my-often-not-so-humble-opine. For my money, the dark red was the favorite, hence it was my choice when it came to the purchase of my first ever “Tooter.”)
And my personal favorite facet, appearance-wise? The detailed logo engraved on top of the crown, which is enhanced with a black wash to make it even more visible and beautiful. That kind of attention to detail isn’t something you can fake; it’s either there, or it isn’t. Period.
The Tudor crown logo has always impressed me with its detail and the challenges it must represent when being stamped into stainless steel. Interestingly, I’ve always thought it looked like a chrysanthemum exploding, which appeals to my strike pilot’s ordnance-loving sensibilities. After a more than 26-year career in the USN, and nearly a decade after retiring, I finally get to wear an exploding chrysanthemum on my wrist!
Of course, “beauty” is a concept that is, to say the very least, subjective in all its many forms, which is why there are so many models out there for our perusal and purchase.
I’ll start my engineering notes by saying that the movement caliber MT5602 is “COSC certified.” COSC stands for Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, which is the body responsible for certifying the accuracy and precision of wristwatches in Switzerland. COSC certification is based on a rigorous set of testing protocols, all of which must be passed before the watch can become COSC Certified. Interestingly, at least to this Cub Reporter, is that from 2010 to the end of 2016, Tudor used the ETA 3832 Swiss automatic movement for its Heritage Black Bay models, after which they shifted over to their in-house MT5602. In so doing, they not only attained COSC certification, but almost doubled their power reserve, going from 38 hours to 70.
A second thing to pass along is that the MT5602’s rotor stores up kinetic energy irrespective of which direction it’s spinning. In other words, it swings both ways…er, well, let’s just stick with “the MT5602’s rotor stores up kinetic energy, irrespective of which direction it’s spinning,” and leave it at that. It can also be hand-wound, if you're not into that whole swayvering about, waving your wrist and making odd gastric noises.
Lastly, the movement “hacks” – stops running – when the crown is pulled all the way out to its second position. This allows people who need to be exactly on the same timeline to synchronize their watches, a process that Hollywood made look ridiculously easy:
CO: [holds up his watch] “Okay, men, let’s synchronize our watches.”
The Men [in semi-unison & mumbling]: “Aye-aye, sir!”
Each man pulls back a shirt cuff, holds his arm up and looks at his watch. The first one mutters to the guy next to him: “Whugh?” and the guy nods back, saying “Ugh-uh.” This process repeats itself until each man has uttered both “Whugh?” and “Ugh-uh.” At no time did anyone actually touch his watch, except for the CO, who, when everyone else was done, whisper-yells, “Mark!” and then presses the crown of his watch all the way in, pulls his own cuff back down, and then, with all watches now fully “synchronized,” the group makes its way into the darkness, searching for their fierce, unseen enemy in the pitch-black of the jungle night. Ah, Hollywood...
But one thing will remain sure and true: when the enemy’s about to get a big can ‘o whoop-arse opened up on him … it’ll happen like clockwork, too, thanks to all that amazing Swiss engineering.
FIT, FINISH & FEEL
This area is my hopefully-not-too-feeble attempt to convey a whole lot of subjective information about this beautiful still-new watch of mine. In it, I am asserting that I can describe some of the feelings one gets in putting on and wearing the watch for an hour, a day, a week and beyond. This, then, is the touchy-feely stuff my Tante Sophie used to warn me about…
We’ve all put a cheaply made watch on our respective wrists at one time or another, and while it might be nominally comfortable, the bracelet might have a build so cheap that it rattles for the whole of your day, despite the slightness of movements you’re trying to make with it. And, of course, this’ll be the watch you’re wearing when an international delegation comes to town to shake your hand and listen to your brilliant PowerPoint presentation on the beauty of silence in a noisy world. The beautiful and exceptionally well-made “Rivet” bracelet by Tudor eliminates this problem and allows you to happily gesticulate your way into presentation immortality. And you heard it here first.
In other cases, the watch might be quiet, but “feels funny” to you, like it’s cheaply made, or some such thing. The bezel might make a “tink-tink” noise if you happen to tap on it or, worse still, if you tap on the crystal and get that self-same “tink-tink” noise. Not good. And there are, of course, other things to go along with these classic examples, but you get the idea. A watch oughtta be made well enough to feel good as it rides your wrist into the sunset with you.
This Tudor Heritage Black Bay has a feel like no other watch in my collection, with the possible exception of my vintage Rolex Air King. There are no rattles, tink-tink’s or wibbley-wobblies. (Hey, there are just some days when you don’t WANT that revered ‘7750 Boogie,’ right? Right.) This Black Bay feels as tight as a brand-new Mercedes Benz C-55 AMG sedan. Trust me.
Then you hold it close to your ear and shake the watch (whilst hopefully not smacking the side of your head with it as you do). You’re listening for that little zzzZZZzzzinggg sound of the rotor as it winds your watch for you. It never fails to please me when that zzzZZZzzzinggg comes through, sharply and clearly, and in no way weak or tinny. Very nice, oh yazzzZZZzzz…it's the sound of all that genuine Swiss power getting wound-up and stored aboard.
You reach for your [unidirectional, 60-click] bezel and give it a go ‘round. It shouldn’t be too easy to turn, like, say, a roulette wheel, or some such instrument, but it shouldn’t be too difficult, either; in other words, the coin-edged bezel shouldn’t be cutting furrows into the pads of your thumb and forefinger. And when you try to make it wobble back and forth within its current little click space, there should be virtually no countermovement in the other direction. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay does every one of these things correctly and perfectly, and the feel is so genuinely comfortable that I really DO forget that I’m wearing it during the course of my day. (Try THAT with your Bolt Super ZOOSK “Skyscraper-dome” Cripesterna™ crystal wartch!)
And when, at varying times during the day, when we hold up our arm and absentmindedly shake our watch to encourage more power into reserve, it shouldn’t sound like your Uncle Jake, shaking the cutlery drawer and looking for “his” steak knife. Most people wear their watch either loosely or rather tightly to the wrist; I wear my divers (and most other watches, as well) in a manner that I call “firmly,” where it’s tight enough to allow very little-to-no fore and aft movement along the wrist, nor let it roll around in an eternal barrel maneuver. It stays put, but your hand & fingers are in no danger of turning purple for lack of good circulation. And, most of all, when I absentmindedly shake my wrist around like Keith Richards on an especially energetic acid flashback, the only sound I’ll hear is a faint little zzzZZZinggg…
But what about the lume? you ask.
Oh. The lume. Nice catch.
Well, since “lume” IS basically short for ILLUMINATION, and since illumination basically refers to LIGHTING, I think I can safely answer that query here in the Engineering section of this review…pretty convenient THAT, eh-wot, wot-wot? So, here’s the answer in two pictures:
“In the Womb, or in the Tomb, it’s All the Same: DARK!”
How’s that for a concise answer to a "lume" question, huh? Pretty dang cool, I’D say…
EL PHOTO GRANDE, LA GRANDE IMAGE, DAS GROßE BILD, DA BIG PITCHUH…
So, that’s the whole, buttery escargot cassaroule, with fresh, hot baguettes (and Dutch buttah! on the side), mes amies. I mean, seriously now, it’s a Tudor Heritage Black Bay watch, “fercornssake,” as Fred Mertz used to say. The tradition and lineage are both there, as is the aforementioned gravitas that comes from being such a close relative to La famille Rolex. And, like the Rolexes, the Tudors are meticulously crafted from the best materials available. They are beautiful. And very comfortable. Like its somewhat better-known cousin, the Tudor is, for all intents and purposes, horological perfection on the wrist. And just how can I so blithely assert this opine? Well, after seven weeks, either on my wrist or in the winder, there has been a zero difference – or, if you prefer, zero “delta” – between my Tudor and the clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory, in Washington DC. (Not too shabby, eh?)
“Yeah, but is it a ROLEX?” you ask. My answer is pretty straightforward: No, it’s not a Rolex; it’s a Tudor, from the same people who bring you the Rolex, and, to tell you the complete truth, it can stand up to or face off with ANY watch out there, including Rolex. Not many watches in this price range (and not too many in even higher “cost spheres”) can boast of this. In closing, I’ll use one last term to describe how I feel about this beautiful wristwatch: KEEPER.
As always, please allow me to thank you for stopping in and having a quick read (& comment, if you've a mind). These little visits along the way really and truly DO mean a lot to me, Dear Constipated Reader… Until we meet again in cyberspace, I remain your faithful & devoted servant.
- MDP, Haifa Israel, 4/23/2018
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