The Tudor Black Bay Bronze - A Golden Era...
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay needs no introduction, it has been one of the most successful releases in recent years. Along with the rest of the Tudor Heritage line, it has spearheaded the vogue of brands dipping into their back catalogue for inspiration for reinterpretations for the modern market. Tudor have an easier job with this than most brands that have ventured into this, as they have a vast archive of iconic sports watches from which to draw their inspiration. The latest addition to the family was released at Baselworld this year, the mighty Tudor Black Bay Bronze.
A Familiar Face
The Black Bay Bronze retains the features of previous incarnations including the snowflake hands, domed crystal and shoulderless case with ‘Big Crown’ winder. The dial however has had a facelift in the guise of what collectors refer to as a 3-6-9 layout. These Arabic numerals replace the oblong hour markers that had previously resided at the three, six and nine hour positions on the dial. The 3-6-9 configuration first appeared on Rolex Submariners in the 1950s on the ‘Big Crown’ watches that are now some of the most collectible and desirable dive watches for watch collectors.
Tudor also reintroduced the shield logo on their watches this year, as an indicator of the presence of the new in-house caliber. The Black Bay family up until this year had utilized the Rose logo and, in my opinion, the shield is much better suited to these watches. As a self-confessed Tudor maniac, the Shield dialed Submariners have an aesthetic appeal that I love.
Big and Bronze
In a world where the trend is towards smaller watches, it was a bold move by Tudor to release the Black Bay Bronze in a revamped large size 43mm case. When I first saw the press release prior to Baselworld this year I was skeptical about such a size, but on the wrist it works remarkably well. This may have something to do with the soft effect of the bronze case…and what a case!
As you would expect from Tudor, with the full access to the Rolex research and development facilities that they have, the amount of work that went into developing the alloy is staggering. One of the issues with bronze watchcases is that the metal rapidly oxidises and as such develops unpredictable colour changes; ultimately growing a green rust-like ‘algae’ which is actually poisonous! Tudor spent three years developing an alloy that would allow the bronze to patinate to a certain point and then stabalise. The idea is that the watch will react and adapt to its owners lifestyle and the environments in which the watch is worn.
Bronze From Boats
The choice of metal for this watch was inspired by the prevalent use of bronze in naval equipment. Whilst bronze can change colour quickly, it is also a very robust metal that can withstand heavy use and prolonged periods submerged in salt water. This link with the navy is a key theme in Tudor’s history and one of the lynch pins in the Heritage story. Tudor Submariners were extensively used by navies all over the world and I’ve written a number of articles over the years on this subject. The Black Bay family takes many of its design elements from watches that were issued to and developed in conjunction with, as an example. The French National Navy – the Marine Nationale (MN). The oversize winding crown was featured on early Tudor Subs issued to the MN and it was field testing of these watches that led to the development of crown guards in the 7928 series watches. Again, the snowflake hands were designed as a response to the French Navy diver’s request for hands that were more visible. Not just a pretty face then…
The watch does have a very pretty face however, where the afore mentioned 3-6-9 numerals sit atop a very beautiful chocolate brown dial, which is framed by an equally charming brown bezel insert. This is another nod to the world of vintage watch collecting; where collectible vintage watches with brown, patinated dials and bezels have the moniker ‘tropical’. The dial and hands sit very well within the setting of the Black Bay Bronze case and the watch has a timeless elegance.
The heavy influence of the various navies on the Bronze is particularly apparent in the supplied fabric strap, which is now customary with all watches in the Heritage line. This one bears a striking resemblance to the straps made by military personnel in the field out of rescue parachute webbing straps. There is an example of one on a blue Snowflake Submariner MN77 in the Tudor Museum collection.
What a Watch
We love Tudor at Bulang & Sons and all of us on the team have purchased both vintage and modern Heritage pieces that we wear a lot. This is the first time Tudor have released a ‘yellow metal’ sports watch (although there were a few two-tone pieces in the later sapphire chrono and Hydronaut series) and I believe that it is a great addition to Black Bay Family. The bronze works well as a tool watch and for me there is a curiosity as to how the watch might look after a couple of years of daily wear. It is a watch that would suit all occasions, be it a kayaking adventure, diving holiday in the Mediterranean, skiing in Verbier or a sleepy poolside vacation…truly a very versatile watch.
Style up by Bulang and Sons – Bronze Perfect Match
Here you can find our take to style up this great watch. All three straps in the Bronze Perfect Match collection share a 23 mm lug width, a slightly tapered fit and our exclusive branded Brass Square Buckle. These watch straps are made from high-grade grey canvasand naturally tanned leather, which is also featured in the keepers, taking up the stunning bronze and brown tones of this future classic Tudor watch!