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Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

After Baselworld 2017 rolled around I think I had officially given up on Tudor, at least as a consumer interested in seriously voting with my dollar and adding one of their products to my collection. By then, every possible ounce of creativity and variety had been squeezed out of the Black Bay line and to me, it seemed like an attempt by Tudor to simply shoehorn as many dissonant design variations as possible into the collection. Something has to stick, right? I don’t know how many Black Bays are currently offered, or how many sizes and materials are available, and I don’t really care to look it up – because it doesn’t matter and it’s immensely overwhelming. It’s a classic case of decision paralysis for many potential customers and nothing really stands out to me. This is the part where I tell you that the Tudor Black Bay GMT changed everything for me, and it did.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

About a week or two before Basel each year, social media, forums, and the rest of the collective watch world start to speculate and predict what Rolex is planning to unveil on day one. It’s a tradition at this point and our modern social media-driven watch enthusiast culture nurtures this kind of environment along with a healthy dose of internet trash-talking… when it’s required. Yes, Rolex released a stainless steel ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II and for years, it’ll be one of the most difficult models to purchase at retail. But what really amazes me about this product launch and the subsequent announcement of the Black Bay GMT, is the fact that for the first time in history, Tudor seemed to stand quietly as a direct competitor while offering something that wasn’t a watered-down version of a Rolex flagship model. This, was not predicted.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

That’s because the Tudor Black Bay GMT isn’t watered-down at all. This is in-house production, true utility, impressive case finishing, comfort, drop-dead good looks, and an aviation-inspired design coming from the same family that supported pilot watch development during the emergence of the 1950s Jet Age and early transcontinental flight. And, while the Tudor vs. Rolex argument will inevitably come up, to me, it’s simply a new chapter in the story. This “story” isn’t something I’ll bore you with and now, I think it’s best that we get right into the details.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Case

I find it interesting that the case of the Tudor Black Bay GMT is perhaps one of the most dividing characteristics when it comes to watch enthusiast opinion. The standard Black Bay divers are still very popular – even though many of us love to hate the thick side slabs and the case size. Nevertheless, most of my fellow watch enthusiasts commented that at 15mm (including the crystal), the watch seemed too thick – and this is where I’d have to disagree. There are some slight refinements here (completely unique to the black Bay GMT) that distinguish this case from earlier Black Bay cases and as someone who that has been accused of “hating on” chunky watches in the past, these changes made all the difference for me.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Specifically, there is a nifty set of beveled edges along the underside of the case that visually reduce the perceived size on wrist. Combine that with the polished lug edges and you have yourself a relatively thick watch that still looks and feels comfortable enough for daily wear. If you haven’t handled one yet, you have to. It’s really the only way to make up your mind about the thickness, and your mileage may vary. Aside from that the case is 41mm wide, about 50mm lug to lug, and water-resistant to 200m. The big Tudor crown (signed with the Tudor rose) is, of course, another distinguishing feature and I found it very comfortable to operate while winding and manipulating the time settings.

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Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Moving up from the crown, we reach the bidirectional 48-click bezel with an anodized aluminum 24-hour insert that Tudor calls matte burgundy and blue. It’s a muted look in terms of color, but you can still catch a glimpse of the classic, rich blue and red Pepsi theme if you’re standing in broad daylight. Visually, I think it’s the most pleasing feature that sets the Black Bay GMT apart from its Rolex counterpart. Depending on the light, the blue can take on a weird, seasick aquamarine tone and the bezel even felt like an older looking component you’d find on something like a ‘50s GMT Master. It’s charming, toned down, and cuts out the jewel-like visuals that you get with most modern Rolex watches.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

A side by side case size comparison with the Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570

Again, I’ll try not to draw too many comparisons here, but I think this is worth noting. Aside from being difficult to grip at times, I found the bezel satisfying and easy to read – especially with the milky white numerals adorning the high contrast 24-hour scale. The whole look is therefore, a little more vintage-inspired – and I like to pretend a guy like Chuck Yeager might opt for one of these if he were to start chasing that demon in the sky today.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Dial

A running joke here at aBlogtoWatch is the suggestion that the Tudor Black Bay GMT might as well be affectionately referred to as the Tudor Blizzard. That’s because the local hour hand, GMT hand, and running seconds hand, all feature the typical Tudor snowflake design. Is it a bit of a snowflake overload? Maybe. But I think for such an important watch in their line-up, I think I can forgive them for making it look as “Tudor” as possible. What’s most important is that I didn’t find this to negatively affect legibility and quick time checks using multiple scales.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At its core this is your typical Black Bay dial, which is one of the best in the business if we’re talking about simple, sporty layouts that feel at home no matter what kind of adventure you’re on. The dark matte black dial surface contrasts well with the applied hour markers featuring metal surrounds. Hand length is also ample, making it nearly impossible to mix up what you’re looking at and over at 3 o’clock Tudor included a slightly recessed and very basic date window. To me, it was just perfect and I really enjoy how crisp the black date numerals look on the white date wheel.

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Comments

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  • ProJ

    Yes 15mm is too chunky for me. The value may be there, but the end product seems just like an unfinished Rolex. I understand a lot of people like this watch, but for me, for the money, I would look for a pre-owned expII for an extra grand. It sits much better on my wrist at 42x11mm. (compared with 41×15)

    • Gokart Mozart

      Aside from the thickness of the case the BB looks so much better than the Explorer II. Look at the picture.

      The BB does not have the ugly crown protector, giving it a better case shape. The hands in my opinion look better and are definetely a better length, and the indices are not oversized. Also the bezel has better markings. The ones on the Rolex look squashed and fat.

      The movements are very similar in quality.

      How can you justify the price of the Rolex?

      • ProJ

        Have you tried both of them? The explorer wears more comfortably. Regarding the looks, it’s really subjective but I personally neither like the hands nor the bezel font on this Tudor. I like the crown protectors. So I guess there’s market for both watches.

  • bc_from_aus

    Nice write up. I’m still holding out for a batman GMT pelagos.

  • JosephWelke

    Nice review, but no hate for the mis-matched date wheel?

  • Polerouter

    Coool review, however, although I know pictures don’t always tell the whole story, it is weird to talk so much about thickness without showing the side or the back.

  • Framlucasse

    Obvioulsly a very good watch, but the white date ruins it. To me.

  • The balance spring is silicon not silicone. It’s only one letter difference yet the actual materials are vastly different. I liked the write up, I like the watch as well and even though I’m not a big fan of Pepsi colours this one looks quite good, possibly better in person.

    • Michael Peñate

      Noted and corrected. Thank you. And yes, I think this watch needs to be experienced in person.

  • Shirley Furby

    I like it but the color confuses me. I’ll have to wait to see it in the flesh before I can yea or nay it’s appeal.

  • SuperStrapper

    Boy michael, if you’re fed up with black bay iterations I’ll suggest you never review a speedmaster…
    The watch is notice but wouldn’t make the top of any black bay iteration or GMT lists for me. All this work and update to stick with an aluminum bezel is simply an insult. Pepsi was never my cola anyway; iterate this again to include a ceramic insert (even big daddy Rolex has made the shift, cmon) and introduce a coke colourway and I’ll likely be more inclined to be attracted. And as previously mentioned, the white date wheel balances the hour markers, but still doesnt look right. The 3 marker should be preserved and the cutout moved to 6 with a dial-matched wheel printed to accommodate that position and you’ll get a more complete appearance. That of course would be too contemporary for them but it doesn’t make me wrong.
    I’d love to see a black bay bronze gmt with ceramic olive bezel and dial.

  • SPQR

    All Rolex watches with a date function have a white date disc regardless of dial colour so the white date disc on the Tudor is at least consistent with the parent group’s watches. The main advantage of the Tudor is that it is available (subject to a short wait in some ADs) and it matches the Rolex functionality 1:1 for a fraction of the price in both money and time wasting because Rolex is trying to generate a false mystique of rarity for what is a standard steel sports GMT watch. The water resistance of the Tudor is better (at 200M) than the Rolex (100M) as it is based on a diving watch. It is aloes a COSC Certified Chronometer and does not bother with the very suspect internal to Rolex only “Superlative Chronometer” designation that nobody can verify. If you can live with the “chunky” size and aluminium bezel it seems to be a great watch and a great price.

  • That’s the first Tudor I’ve liked, and I like it a lot. I think that’s their first reference that stands on its own next to its more successful cousin.

  • Marceau Ratard

    I’ve tried it on and it is a nice watch, I wish the bezel were ceramic. Other than that it’s a win in my book. I like how the numbers on the bezel are smaller than on the new Rolex Pepsi.

  • anonymous

    The ONLY thing stopping me from getting a Tudor are those horrible hands.

    • Omegaboy

      I’m glad you wrote that. The snowflake hands are a huge turnoff for me, too. Everything else about the watch is terrific. I’m wondering if there’s a source for hands without the the squares.

    • LetoAtreides69

      they’re ok on the black bays, but soon as you start messing around with dial proportions they can get pretty ugly in a heartbeat. the black bays in the datejust style are really fugly in person because of the horridly proportioned snowflake hands. i don’t mind them on this gmt, but on the chrono they’re atrocious

  • Great review Michael – totally agree about the overwhelming number of Black Bays not doing potential customers or fans any favors.

    • Gokart Mozart

      I don’t see what the problem is in this case with giving a few extra choices in colour way.

      It’s a heck of a lot better than the parent company who annoys everybody by not giving the customers what they’re all you want just for the sake of being a pain in the backside.

      Be careful what you wish for.

    • Stefan Vorkoetter

      It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Omega Speedmasters you can choose from.

  • bestcoastreader

    Great review, thanks! Any chance we can get at least one picture that shows the “nifty” bevels on the underside of the case? You mention that they make all the difference, but I can’t really see them in any of the (otherwise excellent) pictures.

  • Larry Holmack

    Be nicer looking with a blue dial…but only because I cannot stand black dials with white numerals. I don’t own a single watch like that..never will either.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Super boring™

  • Bozzor

    The Rolex you have when you’re not having a Rolex…

    • Gokart Mozart

      The Rolex for those who are too embarrassed to wear a Rolex.

  • otaking241

    Maybe in a world where Rolex hadn’t essentially perfected the sport watch with the Sub/GMT package (the best case, bezel and bracelet on the market, I would argue, at any price) I’d be more open, but as it is this watch (and, to a lesser extent, the whole Black Bay line) falls into a sort of “uncanny valley” of too similar but just imperfect enough that it makes them uncomfortable to look at. Really wanted to love this but somehow I know if I got one I’d always just be wishing it were something else…

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    I could never buy a watch with an anodized bezel again. Surprised anyone still uses them.

    • Totally agree about the anodized bezel but this keeps drawing me in.

  • Stefan Vorkoetter

    If they came out with a BB58 GMT, I think I’d be able to resist no further.

    • guitardude

      I echo your sentiments fully. I would be over that like a bad rash.

  • hodinky 365

    nice

  • Markus Vlasits

    Although this article hardly provided ‘breaking news’, I still very much enjoyed Michael’s thoughtful write-up and the great pictures. Thank you. The picture with the side-by-side comparison of the Black Bay GMT with the Explorer 2 was kind of an eye-opener to me. I happen to own a ‘Hulkmariner’ and was considering acquiring either the Rolex GMT or Explorer 2 at some point. However, this picture made me think – although the 216570 undoubtedly is a great time piece, the Black Bay GMT seems to be more compelling – a classy, understated design likely to withstand the test of time better than the styling of the Explorer 2, an in-house movement with more exciting specs and all of that at a compelling price point. Interesting times …
    Now, if Tudor could only issue a GMT watch with dimensions identical to those of the Fifty-eight … that would REALLY be irresistible …

  • Jon Heinz

    Can’t lie; I really do kinda like this one.

  • Sylvio Bertoli

    Collector’s item from berth. I just received mine and I could not be happier as it is even prettier than I thought. Whoever buys one should go for the one with steel bracelet. It is definitely worth the relatively small difference charged.

  • leo tam

    I like the aluminum bezel. The ceramics end up too shiny and the colors are weird.

    Kinda wish they kept the maxi dial of the regular black bays, the 12 o clock marker looks too small, but not terrible

  • citydeglass

    to me it is not love or hate. i normally ignore Tudor for some reason. This one I got it just for fun. I like it, and it worthes every penny, but I just dont wear it. I still have not figured out how this paradox came to me.

  • Tommer

    I’ve had this watch for about 4 months now. Runs a bit fast at +8/day (I had a Pelagos that was +1/day). I agree the bracelet could lose the rivets, taper a bit more than it does, and have a few more micro adjustment holes…but that’s just nitpicking. All in all an amazing watch for the price, and a real looker too.

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