Ticking All the Boxes
Chronographs, dress watches, field watches and pilot watches are some of the most popular types. However, nothing is more endearing to me than a dive watch that has distinguished classic looks, is solidly-built and which pays respect to its heritage and tradition. The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight (colloquially referred to as the BB58 / Black Bay 58) is the latest watch to check all of these boxes, and then some. It’s the perfect specimen that exemplifies what I look for in a dive watch. Being the lucky owner of one, the time spent with it has been nothing short of spectacular.
The BB58 was announced in Baselworld 2018 as a new addition to Tudor’s Black Bay collection, which includes the likes of the Black Bay Chronograph and the new Black Bay GMT. The immediate and overwhelming response was one of profound excitement and hype. Fans of Tudor, including myself, were feverishly anticipating it to arrive in store due to the strong, vintage appeal that this watch exudes.
The BB58 got its name and design inspiration from Tudor’s “Big Crown” Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7924 that was released in 1958. Historically, the 7924 was Tudor’s first 200m water-resistant watch. Paying tribute to this historic model, the case size of the BB58 is reduced to 39mm, keeping it more in-tune with the 7924’s 37 mm case. And marking a major change from the other contemporary Black Bay watches that measure in at 41 mm (apart from the Black Bay 36 and Black Bay Bronze which are 36 mm and 43 mm respectively). The BB58 is considerably slimmer as well, with a near 25% reduction in thickness – from 14.75 mm to 11.9 mm.
To balance out the new proportions, the lug width has been shortened to 20 mm instead of the previous 22 mm. As you can imagine, the newer proportions make the BB58 wear significantly different from its Black Bay contemporaries. However, it’s a change that is welcomed by many. Svelt on the wrist, much like its ancestors, the BB58 is versatile and adaptable. Allowing it to easily fit under a slim-fit dress shirt, looking equally at home in the boardroom, in the streets or at the beach.
To achieve this level of slimness, Tudor developed a new movement (MT5402) that is considerably smaller, enabling it to be encased within the 39 mm casing. The MT5402 boasts an approximate power reserve of 70 hours and contains a non-magnetic balance spring and a free-sprung balance wheel. The movement is a COSC-certified chronometer which means that it is tested to run at -4/+6 seconds a day. In my personal experience, my BB58 performs better, gaining only +1 second a day.
Dial Design & Layout
Aesthetics wise, it’s as good as it can get for a modern re-interpretation of a vintage watch. Its textured dial is a gorgeous matte-black. And combined with Tudor’s signature “snowflake” hands and applied indices (surrounded by rose-gold plating), the overall effect is a warm gilt dial that oozes vintage charm. Its modestly-domed sapphire crystal helps add an element of depth, especially when the watch is tilted to the “magical” 45-degree angle. At this angle, the curvature of the crystal distorts the dial, it’s quite fascinating to look at.
Something that is novel to the BB58 is its rose-gold markers on the uni-directional matte-black aluminium bezel. Blending in seamlessly with the gilt dial, it’s a subtle touch that helps to further pile on the vintage appeal. Its beige lume pip is surrounded by rose gold plating and sits within a red triangle, another detail that is certainly a well-received addition and a direct throwback to the 7924.
On its case, beautifully polished bevels run across the upper edges of the lugs. Its lugs bring a touch of elegance and significantly contribute to the wearability of the BB58. As for the crown, it also has a few minor tweaks – the crown tube is now fully brushed and uncoloured (Black Bays typically feature coloured crown tubes) and the engraved Tudor rose logo is replaced with an embossed one. Lastly, just like previous Black Bays, there are no crown guards to be found on the BB58 (as with previous “Big Crown” Tudor Submariners such as the 7924).
The watch comes with your choice of either a faux-riveted bracelet, a Tudor fabric strap or a leather strap. Being a bracelet person, the choice was easy for me. Similar to the other Black Bay bracelets, the clasp on the riveted bracelet for the BB58 has ceramic ball detents to ensure a secure fit. Clicking the clasp in place and hearing the ceramic balls locking into place is very satisfying. This results in a clasp that is substantial, comfortable and unobtrusive. The bracelet also tapers from 20 mm-18 mm, making it look and feel slender on the wrist. Unsurprisingly, like all of the other Black Bay watches, the classic look of the BB58 also makes it highly compatible with various different straps. Other than wearing it on the riveted bracelet, I also love to wear it on a Tan-brown leather strap as it complements and further highlights the gilt dial.
The venerable Leonardo Da Vinci once said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Being simple isn’t banal, but can rather be elegant in and of itself. The BB58 perfectly reflects this quote. It may only be a time-only watch, but it manages to present time in a manner that is very aesthetically pleasing and representative of Tudor’s heritage and tradition. Although much of the focus is on the Black Bay GMT during Baselworld 2018, I feel that the BB58 is gradually and quickly becoming more enthralling to watch fans as time goes by – a testament to its evergreen design. The MT5402 is definitely a step in the right direction for Tudor as it opens up a wealth of opportunities for the company. It will definitely be exciting and interesting to see how they will utilize this smaller movement in the future. Personally, I would love to see a Black Bay GMT in the 39mm case. With handsome classic aesthetics, exceptional build quality and an impressive pedigree behind it, the Tudor Black Bay 58 is unquestionably one of the best-valued watches that you can wear today.
Tudor’s newly opened Studio Boutique by The Hour Glass. Located at Level 1, Tangs at Tang Plaza. Open Monday to Saturday 10:30 AM to 9:30 PM. Sunday hours from 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM. Pictured above the 1926 Collection, Tudor’s newest collection unveiled at Baselworld 2018.