Baselworld 2017 once again sees Tudor release an additional line extension model to its popular Heritage Black Bay vintage-themed dive watch collection with the reference 79730 Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel. While the watch is, for the most part, the same "in-house movement" Black Bay that is popular with timepiece lovers, it has a new brushed steel bezel insert which helps the design feel like historic military watches produced by Tudor and sister company Rolex in the mid 20th century... and it also has the date.
The steel bezel insert replaced the colored anodized aluminum bezel insert of other Tudor Heritage Black Bay models. While steel is not going to be as durable (scratch-resistant) as ceramic, for instance, it will be a bit tougher that aluminum. That said, brushed steel will show marks rather quickly - which is perhaps OK because watches like this tend to look best with a bit of a "worn-in" look. More important are the overall aesthetics which now result in perhaps the most macho-looking "light" colored version of the Black Bay watches.
Most Tudor Heritage Black Bay watch dials do not include a window for the date. This was a design decision welcomed by watch lovers interested in more classic, symmetrical dials who felt the addition of a date window disrupted the harmony of the dial. With that said, a lot of watch lovers do, in fact, appreciate a watch dial with the date. So perhaps the most subtle change to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel is the removal of the standard 3 o'clock hour marker, and the inclusion of a date window in its place.
Last year, in 2016, Tudor released the "sister model" to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark (hands-on here). The Black Bay Dark (which doesn't have the date) is still the model to get if you like a darker theme to your timepiece, and it also has the inverted red triangle frame lume pip on the uni-directional rotating bezel, and matching (small amount) of red-colored text on the dial. What the Black Bay Dark does not have (and it is a matter of taste) is the retro-style "riveted" steel bracelet, which the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel has, along with other steel Tudor Black Bay watches released starting in 2016 (hands-on here).
To recap for those not familiar, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay watch comes in a 41mm-wide steel case that has contrasting brushed and polished surfaces and is water resistant to 200 meters. It is very much a vintage-style diving watch in a modern package. In addition to the overall design, details such as the raised, domed sapphire crystal offer a more retro look. Inside the modern generation of Black Bay watches (the first generation from a few years ago had Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movements) are in-house made Tudor mechanical movements. Inside the Heritage Black Bay Steel is the calibre MT5612 automatic movement which is COSC Chronometer certified. This is a minor difference from the calibre MT5602 found in most other Heritage Black Bay models. The only difference between the MT5602 and the MT5612 is the inclusion of a date indicator window in the latter automatic movement.
The MT5612 caliber movement operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a full 70 hours of power reserve and uses a silicon balance wheel. It also has a "screwed" variable inertia balance wheel which can be more precision-regulated than non-variable-inertia balance wheels. This is overall a very nice movement, especially in a Swiss watch at this price.
With its instrument-like black dial and a hint of red color to enliven the otherwise monochromatic color scheme, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel is a pretty timepiece for those who are primarily attracted to "purposeful tool watches." Tudor isn't reinventing anything here, but once again offering a new flavor to round out the Black Bay collection and ideally get people to buy another one, or perhaps further entice watch collectors who are interested in the collection but haven't come around yet to getting a Tudor Heritage Black Bay.
Tudor will sell the reference 79730 Heritage Black Bay Steel on both a matching steel bracelet or a leather strap. The khaki green NATO-style fabric strap is included with both the bracelet and leather strap version of the watch. Price is $3,800 USD (bracelet) and $3,475 (leather strap), respectively. As always, my recommendation if you like this watch is to opt for the bracelet. tudorwatch.com