By Frank Geelen
There’s no doubt that the Tudor Heritage Black Bay is a successful watch – and this success clearly comes from its inspiration: vintage Tudor Submariner watches, mainly the 1954 references 7922 and 7923 and in some ways, the reference 7016 and the reference 9401 “Marine Nationale”.
Design-wise, the link is easy to make between the two editions. The case of the Tudor Black Bay is typical to the Submariner watches, with its famous shape, comprising straight casebands with continuous lugs, a non-protected and oversized crown (reminiscent of the “big crown” Submariners) and a chamfer on top of the lugs. The rotating bezel, typical of dive watches, also takes inspiration from the past, with the 60-minute scale and the triangular index at 12.
On the Black Bay Blue, we can see a nod to the military ref. 9401, ordered by the French Navy. The latest edition, the Black Bay Black, reintroduces the famous red triangle, so dear to collectors (and visible on some vintage Submariner ref. 7922). The main difference between today’s Black Bay and its vintage predecessors is size: the Black Bay is a robust and modern 41mm (compared to 37mm for the vintage one).
The dial of the Black Bay is also heavily inspired by the vintage Tudor Submariners. It features the same gilt minute track, inscriptions and hands (except on the Blue edition) and even revives the old Tudor Rose logo. “Rotor” and “Self-Winding” at six o’clock are also reminiscent of the past (reference 7922). While the indexes are the same (and even mimic vintage watches with a faux-patina), the hands are quite different and use the “snow-flake” design, a signature Tudor feature but seen on later watches, rather than the early Submariners (on the 1969 reference 7016 for instance). Even the modern sapphire crystal mimics vintage Plexiglas with its domed shape.
On a mechanical basis, the concept is similar. The Tudor Submariner and the Black Bay both rely on ETA movements enclosed in great quality cases. The Tudor Black Bay is clearly a modern version of the Tudor Submariners, with a strong design link to the past. It isn’t copying a single reference but instead takes design clues of some of the most important dive watches from the brand, to create, in the end, a strong and desirable package.
Frank Geelen – The Netherlands
Frank Geelen is an expert on Haute Horlogerie and beautiful hand-finished mechanical movements make his horological heart beats faster. He loves to explain all technical details of complications like tourbillons, minute repeaters, constant force escapements and column-wheel chronographs and he has been doing that for more than seven years. Besides publishing daily at Monochrome Watches (monochrome-watches.com) , Frank also writes for several other publications, both online and offline.