Marking 50 years of its chronographs, Tudor is updating its Black Bay Chrono with a reworked case, plus two dial and three strap options. 1954 saw the first Tudor dive watch and 1970 debuted the first Tudor chronograph with the Oysterdate. The two worlds have merged in the Black Bay Chrono that merged the trademark Black Bay dial and its high-contrast geometric shapes with ageless chronograph elements such as a tachymeter bezel, panda dial and two chunky pushers.
It’s been 4 years that we debuted the Tudor Black Bay Chrono hands-on here. Let’s first see what’s new and then what has remained unchanged. The 41mm stainless steel case is “refined by the ingenious cut of the lower part of the sapphire crystal and a repositioned movement.” In keeping with the traditions of its parent company, Rolex, Tudor actively and wilfully refuses to provide any sort of meaningful explanation as to the engineering changes and slight, but certainly calculated modifications it has performed during this upgrade. Although we are yet to see these hands-on (which we will do very soon), judging from images we can say that that the lug structure and case profile appear to have been tweaked slightly.
The end result appears to be one of improved overall proportions: as you might find in the hands-on we linked to in the previous paragraph, 2017’s Black Bay Chrono had rather long and thin lugs along with a very tall case profile in between the lugs. The black anodized aluminum bezel of the 2021 Tudor Black Bay Chrono also does tremendous service in tidying up the overall look, creating a tighter and better proportioned front.
The dial remains domed and comes finished in matt black or opaline, with contrasting sub-dials, creating that much-loved panda and reverse panda aesthetic. The date remains discreetly at 6 o’clock, just underneath the text that boasts the 200m water resistance rating of the Tudor Black Bay Chrono – a neat feature that is much appreciated on a watch that very much wants to function as one’s only watch that is perfect for any situation and attire.
Inside the 41mm stainless steel case is the “manufacture chronograph calibre MT5813” – a movement that, unless things have changed dramatically in the background, is in fact largely manufactured by Breitling. This is one of the greatest cross-brand collaborations of recent years (or even decades) in the relatively affordable luxury watchmaking segment and we are thrilled that it came to be. The existence of the collaboration is also a fact Tudor has openly discussed back in 2017 – which is what one would expect after the “in-house” drama that hit TAG Heuer and Bremont in the last decade. In today’s official communication the MT5813 is introduced as a movement that is “derived from the chronograph manufacture calibre Breitling 01, with a high-precision regulating organ developed by TUDOR and exclusive finishes. [It] is the result of a lasting collaboration between the two brands, which have chosen to pool their expertise in the design and production of certain mechanical movements.” That’s all great but, on a personal note and if we were to stay consistent with what the aforementioned two brands’ recent history has taught us, these frankly probably shouldn’t be labelled as manufacture movements. They are such proper movements, they don’t even need no such labelling anyway.
Naming schemes aside, powered by the MT5813, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono is among the absolute best value propositions as far as chronograph technologies and refinement are concerned. For under $5,000 one receives an excellent chronograph caliber that boasts 70 hours of power reserve (like the much more expensive Rolex 4130), features a vertical clutch and a column wheel (again, like the much more expensive Rolex 4130) and has a silicon hairspring (something that not even the 4130 currently has). And yet, the package still comes in at several thousand dollars under the cheapest B01-equipped Breitling watch.
With its relatively minor yet noticeable updates, the 2021 Tudor Black Bay Chrono combines a confident vintage aesthetic with some proper cutting-edge 21st century watchmaking. Case and bracelet quality on Tudors of late have been consistently impressive – we’ll check on those when we get our hands on these, but chances are extremely slim for that to change for the worse. The 2021 Tudor Black Bay Chrono is priced at 4,950 CHF on the bracelet and 4,650 CHF on the bund strap or jacquard-woven strap – both prices are inclusive of taxes. You can learn more at the brand’s website.