June 23, 2021
by David Bredan
Do you like Tudor? Do you like all-bronze watches? Then we have news for you! The freshly announced Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze is a boutique-edition piece that nevertheless doesn’t appear to be limited to a certain production number — only to the places you can actually find it and buy it at, which are the roughly 50 Tudor boutiques around the world.
Presented in the highly popular 39mm case size — with a case thickness of 11.9mm and a lug-to-lug measurement of 48mm — the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze now adds a bronze bracelet to really drive home the bronze watch craze. Tudor calls this color palette a “rich brown-bronze tone,” and a deep brown dial and bezel complement the all-bronze exterior. The material itself is a “living metal, a high-performance aluminum bronze alloy used particularly in naval engineering for submerged parts required to demonstrate a high level of resistance to corrosion such as propellers.” Fans of bronze watches know very well that this metal develops a subtle and unique patina over time (unless you try to expedite the process with some saltwater and ammonia, in which case it happens very quickly, depending on the exact alloy).
Tudor cases and bracelets tend to be beautifully finished, especially on the Black Bay and Pelagos collections, and that makes this exercise all the more intriguing. Experiencing a block of metal developing a patina sure is fun, but there is a borderline masochistic element to seeing such neatly brushed and accurately machined surfaces get covered up in places by patina. For some, that’s heresy; for others, it’s newfound levels of fun in watch ownership. Tudor says it bestowed the Black Bay Bronze with “entirely satin-brushed finishes [to] guarantee the homogeneous development of this patina.”
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The aluminum bronze alloy used by Tudor is made into bars, which in turn are cut into slugs (small cylinders of material) a few centimeters in length. The slugs are then heated to temperatures so high that they glow in orange before being stamped individually, applying a pressure of many tonnes. With this single operation, as soon as it emerges from the furnace, this cylinder of raw material instantly adopts the rough form of the watch middle case.
From this point, some 40 additional steps are required to obtain a bronze case that is ready for assembly. Successive machining processes create the final shape and craft the functional parts of the case, such as the threading or drilling, while surface finishing treatments are performed by automated machines, as well as by hand. Because bronze is a material whose appearance evolves rapidly according to its environment, all these manufacturing operations, as well as the assembly and final tests of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze model, are carried out with meticulous care, using gloves and according to a specific workflow, particularly for waterproofness tests. Between the tests, each watch is entirely dried in order to preserve its new, non-patinated appearance.
Tudor adds a woven brown-bronze fabric strap with a bronze buckle to the package — probably anticipating the fact that, for some at least, the all-bronze bracelet and its heft may be a bit much for extended wear. The T-Fit adjustment system engineered into the clasp of the bronze bracelet is, nevertheless, a welcome addition: It allows for the instant, tool-free adjustment of the bracelet’s length over five various positions within the adjustment window of 8 millimeters in total. Five steps over 8mm is pretty much all one needs to be able to perfectly adjust the length of a metal bracelet over the course of a day (as well as the seasons), as our wrists tend to expand and contract as a result of a multitude of factors, including heat, humidity, exercise, etc. Such a micro-adjust system should be part of every luxury watch’s metal bracelet, no questions asked.
The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze is powered by the Tudor Manufacture Calibre MT5400, offering a respectable 70 hours of power reserve combined with COSC-certified chronometer accuracy. That is one-upped by Tudor internally, as “Tudor insists on between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation” for every piece once fully assembled (while COSC tests uncased movements only). Boasting a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, variable inertia balance, and micro-adjustment screws, this self-winding in-house movement enjoys the 200-meter water resistance rating of the 39mm bronze case.
The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze bracelet watch is priced at $4,525 and is available from Tudor boutiques only. Considering the advanced in-house movement, the still rather rare all-bronze exterior, the quality of execution, and the five-year warranty, the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze is one mighty-strong, if rather niche, offering. You can learn more at the brand’s website.