Without a doubt, one of the more unexpected new Tudor releases unveiled this year at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023 was the Black Bay 54. Given that Tudor already offered the standard 41mm Black Bay and the 39mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight in its current catalog, most people (myself included) assumed that Tudor would simply continue to iterate upon these same two core models. However, while the brand did introduce a new generation of its full-size 41mm diver this year, Tudor also unveiled an even smaller version in the form of the Black Bay 54, and the new model draws its inspiration from the very first Tudor dive watch that originally debuted in (you guessed it) 1954. Although the Tudor Black Bay 54 is hardly an exact recreation of its historic predecessor, the new model does feature a number of details that recall the original vintage Tudor Submariner ref. 7922 from 1954, including a return to the classic 37mm case size that defined the brand’s first-ever dive watch.

Crafted from stainless steel, the case of the new Tudor Black Bay 54 recalls the proportions of the vintage reference 7922. It measures 37mm in diameter by 11.24mm thick, making it about three-quarters of a millimeter thinner than the existing Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Additionally, while the lugs are still set 20mm apart, the overall lug-to-lug profile has also been slightly decreased, and it now comes in at approximately 46mm. Just like other Black Bay models, the new Tudor Black Bay 54 features beveled lugs. While the winding crown still sits at the 3 o’clock location entirely devoid of crown guards, the shape and stance of the crown has been updated compared to previous iterations of the Tudor Black Bay.

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Not only is the crown itself smaller, but the base of it now sits flush against the side of the case, rather than slightly sticking out due to the previous models’ prominent case tube. Additionally, rather than featuring an entirely flat end with a coin-edge style grip on the sides, the crown fitted to the new Black Bay 54 features more prominent angled fluting (similar to what you will find on Rolex watches) with a slightly more rounded tip. That said, just like previous Black Bay watches the tip of the crown on the new Tudor Black Bay 54 is still signed with the brand’s vintage rose logo, and it screws down to help create the same 200 meters of water resistance that is offered by its larger siblings

Similar to other stainless steel Black Bay models, the new Tudor Black Bay 54 features a solid screw-down caseback, while a domed sapphire crystal sits above the dial to offer modern scratch resistance with a vintage-leaning overall appearance. Just as you would expect from one of the brand’s dive watches, a unidirectional 60-minute timing bezel surrounds the crystal. Rather than having a bezel insert made from ceramic like the Pelagos, the Tudor Black Bay 54 is fitted with a black anodized aluminum insert to help maintain its vintage overall aesthetic.

With that in mind, while the bezel inserts fitted to the larger Black Bay models feature individual hash marks for the first fifteen minutes, the bezel on the Tudor Black Bay 54 only features markings every five minutes. Additionally, unlike the black insert fitted to the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which has gold text and a red triangle at its zero marker, the bezel on the Black Bay 54 embraces an entirely black and silver color profile, just like the insert originally fitted to the vintage Tudor Submariner ref. 7922 from 1954.

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While the dial and hands of the new Tudor Black Bay 54 are very similar to what can be found on other Black Bay watches, they do feature a couple of noteworthy updates that also exist on the new third generation of the full-size 41mm Black Bay diver. While the dial still features a slightly domed, matte black surface with gold printing to emulate the appearance of a vintage gilt dial, the hands include two subtle updates that bring them closer to the style that can be found on the vintage ref. 7922 from 1954.

Although the minute hand offers much of the same pencil shape as before, the base of it now tapers inwards for a slightly more refined overall appearance. Additionally, the luminous section on the seconds hand is now a standard circle shape, rather than being a diamond like what can be found on previous versions of the Black Bay diver. That said, while the vintage ref. 7922 featured a Mercedes-style hour hand, the new Tudor Black Bay 54 retains its signature Snowflake-style hour hand, which immediately helps to identify it as one of Tudor’s watches.

Powering the new Tudor Black Bay 54 is the brand’s manufacture Caliber MT5400, which is the same movement that can be found inside other current-production Tudor models, such as the Pelagos 39, along with the 18k gold, sterling silver, and bronze versions of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Interestingly, this is a slightly different movement than what is used to power the stainless steel version of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight (which runs on the Cal. MT5402), although despite their different numbers, both movements offer identical performance specifications. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, the Tudor Caliber MT5400 features an non-magnetic silicon hairspring, along with an open-worked monoblock rotor crafted from tungsten, and in addition to being a COSC-certified chronometer, Tudor goes above and beyond when it comes to timekeeping tolerances, and the Cal. MT5400 is guaranteed to keep time with -2/+4 seconds per day, after casing.

Fitted to the lugs of the new Tudor Black Bay 54 is a three-link stainless steel bracelet that features a faux rivet design on the side links to mimic the appearance of the vintage rivet bracelets that came with Tudor dive watches during the 1950s and 1960s. While the actual vintage bracelets were constructed from folded pieces of metal riveted together, Tudor’s modern bracelets offer completely solid links secured by screws for greater resistance to wear and a more premium feel on the wrist.

However, while the other stainless steel Black Bay watches are also offered with the option of either leather or canvas straps, the only alternate option for the Tudor Black Bay 54 is a black rubber strap that connects to the case with fitted end-links for an integrated overall appearance. Both the stainless steel bracelet and rubber strap are fitted with Tudor’s T-fit clasp, which features an integrated tool-free extension system that offers five positions of incremental adjustment for a total range of 8mm. While I have nothing against standard pin buckles, I appreciate that Tudor also fits the T-fit clasp to the rubber strap, and this detail makes it feel like a legitimate alternate option to the stainless steel bracelet that doesn’t sacrifice any functionality.

With an official retail price of $3,625 USD when purchased on the rubber strap (ref. m79000n-0002), or $3,850 USD should buyers opt for the stainless steel bracelet version (ref. m79000n-0001), the new Tudor Black Bay 54 is slightly less expensive than its larger siblings, although it is still priced very much in-line with the rest of the collection. While I’m sure that there will be plenty of collectors who appreciate the smaller size of the new model and would like to see it offered in other colors, it’s important to remember that this watch is essentially Tudor’s homage to the vintage Submariner ref. 7922. There is a decent chance that this more-compact Black Bay diver will exclusively be offered in black, as this was the only color available for the reference 7922 when it was first released in 1954. With that in mind, this new model is hardly an exact recreation of Tudor’s inaugural dive watch, and in much the same way that the brand took liberties with its design in order to bring it into the modern era, I could also just as easily see Tudor releasing various versions in other colors at some point down the road, and eventually expanding this new 37mm model into a third sub-collection within the greater Black Bay diver lineup. For more information on the Tudor Black Bay 54, please visit the brand’s website.

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