Here’s something less objective, but nonetheless interesting to consider. I will admit that it took me some time to come to this conclusion, but I stand behind it: to me, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black appears to be more playful, more relaxed than the Submariner. This is not at all a bad thing, and it is a serious watch, for sure – but not even remotely as serious as the Rolex Submariner 114060. The Tudor’s faux vintage vibe, adorably bold bracelet, case, and dial design render the Tudor Heritage Black Bay more fun-looking – and while in its design it is closer to its original version from ages ago, it still comes off as a more youthful and fun design when compared to the Rolex Submariner.
The Rolex Submariner’s 100% monochromatic design is as adaptable and versatile as it is lacking at times. I will never ever cease to respect its build quality and near-flawless aesthetics, and I often found myself looking at it in different lighting situations and finding it to be one of the most beautiful watches ever made… But, at some other times, I left it on the shelf and reached for something more exciting.
Movement, Accuracy, & Power Reserve
While at BaselWorld 2016 Tudor updated the Heritage collection with a new in-house movement, the MT5602, the piece we are looking at now, the reference 79220, features the ETA 2824 inside – and until later in the year, in-house equipped pieces will not be available for purchase.
Rolex uses the Rolex caliber 3130 inside the Submariner 114060 “No Date.” It is, of course, an in-house-manufactured movement that offers 48 hours of power reserve, runs at 4 Hertz, or 28,800 beats per hour, and has a reputation of terrific longterm reliability. The ETA inside the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black runs on the same frequency but lags behind Rolex by offering a mere 38 hours of power reserve. Interestingly, the updated Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black with the in-house movement will offer 70 hours of power reserve – almost a full day more than the Rolex… a major, considerable, and genuinely useful advantage.
To be fair, and since we are talking about in-progress updates to these products, we’ll mention that since mid-2015 Rolex has been transitioning to not only obtaining COSC certification for its watches but to also exposing its full production to in-house tests that ensure an unprecedented accuracy of -2/+2 second per day. So, while the 3130 remains structurally unmodified, Rolex told us they have even stricter (and indeed a brand new, integrated testing method that checks accuracy, water resistance, and even power reserve) quality checks that enable them to achieve these results.
This review’s Tudor has no bragging rights about its accuracy, although the watch in the review has been running consistently fast by about 5 seconds per day. Also, Tudor will have its new in-house movement-equipped Black Bay watches COSC certified, which will ensure that they run between -4 and +6 seconds per day.
Both watches have solid steel case backs so you cannot see the movements inside – hence there is little to no point to discussing the quality of decoration applied to their components. With that said, Tudor uses Top Grade ETA movements that offer thorough finishing, and of course the Rolex caliber 3130 also has every bit of movement decoration that will allow it to remain rust free for ages to come.
As was the case with how the bezel on the Rolex felt, the 3130 offers another neat detail: its winding feel. While the ETA inside the Tudor gives you your standard automatic mechanical winding feel, it appears as though Rolex wanted to assure you about the superlative nature of its movement through engineering a unique winding feel into it. Like the bezel, the crown gives a buttery smooth, but precise feedback – something totally unmatched by the ETA movement. The perceived “superlativeness,” solid reputation, and claimed accuracy all at once become tangible in your fingertips when you unscrew the crown and start winding the movement. A little thing, but little things do end up making a big difference.
Price for the Rolex Submariner 114060 “No Date” is $7,500, while for the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black 79220N on the steel bracelet it is $3,425 – which will jump to $3,675 for the new version with the in-house movement.
When you compare the Rolex Submariner 114060 and the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black, the Rolex features a number of smaller and larger improvements and advancements over its little brother. Now, when you ask yourself the question: “Yes, but does the ceramic bezel justify the extra $4,000? Does the name, the movement, the bracelet, the clasp…?”
One by one, they clearly do not. But, and this is a big, rounded, full-bodied but: the Rolex is such a complex, complete, and almost totally unbeatable package that it ultimately marks not a few minor updates over an alternative, but rather one big one, as it becomes the complete package.
So, is the Rolex out of your budget? Worry not, as I can say that you will be very, very happy with the Tudor, and chances are you will not feel that you are missing out on anything that important… Or indeed, anything at all. But for sometime later, years down the road, you should remember that you still have the option to upgrade to the Rolex – and when you arrive there, you’ll be set and able to appreciate all the bells and whistles, all the minute advancements it offers.
In other words: the Rolex Submariner 114060 is twice the price of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black, but is it twice the watch? After spending months alternating between wearing these two watches, this is how I can conclude this comparison review…
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black is such a fantastic watch – thanks to its terrific build quality and looks that I, for what’s that worth, could never ever get bored of it. Anytime you wear it, chances are you are not going to think or feel that it is lacking in any way; and you won’t likely even have a Rolex on your mind.
On the other hand (pun intended), the Rolex Submariner is a watch that offers improvements in almost every department, from material used, through build quality (including the bezel and movement feel), as well as prestige and perceived exclusivity. From its exterior all the way to its fantastically accurate and reliable movement, it remains largely unrivaled – and if it is in budget, then unthreatened, even.
It would be very difficult to pick one winner in this review, as these two watches, despite their apparent similarities, are vastly different in numerous important ways. Whichever you pick, you will definitely not be disappointed. With that noted, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black still comes out on top for the simple reason that it put up such an honorable fight against the Rolex Submariner, even managing to pack a few punches here and there, thanks to its comparably excellent build quality, soon-to-be-superior power reserve, and extremely competitive price. tudorwatch.com | rolex.com