April 23, 2021
by Ariel Adams
2021 sees fresh versions of the popular Tudor Black Bay Chrono watches arrive with color-palette styles that are sure to make watch hobbyists and those who appreciate vintage sports watches happy. The Tudor Black Bay Chrono collection debuted in 2017 (on aBlogtoWatch here), and then in 2019 Tudor updated the Black Bay Chrono with a slightly refreshed design when releasing the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph S&G (steel and gold), which you can see on aBlogtoWatch here. The 2021 Black Bay Chrono reference M79360N watches offer a few bracelet/strap attachment options, along with the classic “panda” or “reserve panda” set of black and white dials.
There are a few easy to mention highlights for the Tudor Black Bay Chrono collection, overall. First is the excellent quality-to-price ratio, which sees Tudor offering both case finishing and mechanical competency at a price lower than you can find from much of the competition. Starting at under $5,000 USD, the Black Bay Chrono isn’t a budget watch, but it does offer features you’d be hard-pressed to find in many other timepieces at this price range. Comparable chronographs from Omega, Rolex, Breitling, etc., would easily cost a few thousand dollars more, in many instances.
The second major area of appeal for the Tudor Black Bay Chrono is the attractive mixture of contemporary proportions and materials with an authentic vintage style that allows this conservative set of chronos to be both fashionably versatile and also fit in neatly with at least a few current trends in collecting. When I put the reference M79360N watch on my wrist, I very much feel as though Tudor is channeling something from yesterday — for today.
That makes sense because these two Black Bay Chrono watches are actually part of Tudor’s 50th anniversary of its first chronograph watch. The style is very much “vintage Daytona” in theme — which is not surprising given that Rolex and Tudor are part of the same parent entity. Given that purchasing actual vintage Rolex Daytona watches is price prohibitive for most enthusiasts, getting something like a Black Bay Chrono is an otherwise excellent way of enjoying that particular yesterday sports watch style today.
The main difference between the old watches and the new are sizes and proportions. Vintage chronograph watches tend to be petite by today’s standards, whereas the 2021 Tudor Black Bay Chrono is a large-wearing 41mm-wide. That normally isn’t super-large by today’s dimensional standards, but the case is around 14mm-thick and has a 22mm-wide strap or bracelet. The lug-to-lug distance is about 49mm, which means that it actually wears quite comfortably on the wrist.
The wonderfully machined and polished steel case is contrast-finished with both polished and brushed surfaces, while offering 200 meters of water resistance. Just don’t try to go that deep with the chronograph pushers unscrewed. One of the vintage-style elements of the watch is the screw-down chronograph pushers. No one seems to actually like screwing down and unscrewing the pushers to use the chronograph on timepieces with these antiquated elements, but something about the tactile experience of playing with the screw-down pushers like a fidget toy seems to make up for the “historic charm” of this case safety feature.
Tudor did a great job with the Black Bay Chrono dial – offering a real combination of vintage racing chronograph with diver’s watch spirit. The dial has just the right amount of visual depth to look classy, but also the right level of decorative restraint to also come across as a genuine wrist instrument, complete with pretty good legibility. For symmetry and style purposes, Tudor opted to go with a two-register chronograph that offers a 45-minute chronograph counter. The date window is neatly positioned at the 6 o’clock mark.
Over the dial is a domed “box-style” sapphire crystal, which is modeled to look a bit like vintage acrylic crystals, and often for good effect (though these are never kind to cameras trying to capture them without reflections). Around the dial is a traditional tachymeter scale bezel in black, which is applied over an anodized aluminum insert. With the volume of ceramic bezels out there, it is hard to prefer aluminum over the more durable options, but aluminum does offer a more convincing vintage character to this otherwise modern timepiece.
In panda dial guise (white dial with black-colored subdials), the Tudor Black Bay Chrono (on the bracelet is the reference M79360N-0002, and as the reverse-panda, it is the M79360N-0001. There are different reference numbers for these watches as available on the two strap options – which include a black fabric strap, or the hip black leather bund-style strap that I happen to really enjoy. Here in the supplied matching steel bracelet the Tudor Black Bay Chrono becomes a bit dressier – and thankfully the bracelet doesn’t cost too much extra.
The bracelet itself is basic in construction but very well made in regard to the tolerance of the steel parts as well as the polishing. One of the most distinctive design elements of the otherwise unremarkable three-link design is the “side rivet” style of the edges of the bracelet. Here Tudor is visually alluding to vintage bracelets which did not have solid steel links and thus used riveted ends on the bracelet to help keep it all together. Since watchmakers started using solid pieces of metal for the links, side rivets become unnecessary. Since they do however look cool, Tudor cleverly decided to engineer in the “look” of rivets to make the bracelet more visually interesting, and to good effect.
One of the best reasons to get a Tudor Black Bay Chrono is the movement, which Tudor refers to as the Manufacture Calibre MT5813. The movement is produced by Tudor, but with a chronograph system that they actually licensed from also Swiss Breitling. Likewise, Breitling uses (or used) a three-hand automatic movement sourced from Tudor for some of their three-hand Superocean Heritage watches. The MT5813 is intentionally trying to not compete with Rolex movements, so Tudor gives it a bit more of a modern, industrial finishing to it, but from a performance perspective, this is a very impressive little machine.
Testimony to that fact is that for 2021 Tudor is making their warranty even better. It is a five-year warranty on the movement that requires no periodic maintenance checks and also makes it easy to transfer the warranty to a subsequent buyer (if desired). The MT5813 movement is an automatic that operates at 4Hz with a total of 70 hours of power reserve. The chronograph uses both a column wheel transmission as well as a fancy vertical clutch. You can feel the precision this affords when you use the chronograph pushers. I will however say that it is a good thing Tudor created such a wide crown for the watch since the mainspring barrel in the MT5813 does require some torque when winding (if you choose the wind the movement manually). Note of course that the MT5813 movement is officially COSC Chronometer certified (for accuracy and performance).
Swiss Tudor offers watch hobbyists one of the best ways to enjoy the visual and visceral experience of a vintage sports watch, but in a package that thoroughly modern and not toward the top of the price spectrum. With that said, the field of players competing in these areas continues to develop each for months, as the vintage sports watch trend (even among new watch designs) is still in the middle of playing itself out. Where Tudor will often beat the competition is in offering superlative finishes, case construction, and sheer popularity.
Price for the Tudor Black Bay Chrono M79360N family of watches is priced at $4,900 USD on either of the two available straps, or $5,225 USD on the matching steel bracelet. Learn more at the Tudor website here.