September 5, 2018
Now, while Tudor offers the Black Bay GMT in configurations featuring a NATO or some form of a leather strap, you’re going to want to go for the bracelet version. I did find the faux rivets a bit cheesy and ideally the bracelet should have tapered a little more, but this thing is never going to let you down. At 22mm wide, it fits well with the proportions of the Black Bay case and if you want it to, this watch can easily pair with many of the aftermarket straps you have in the corner of your watch box already. This is especially great if you take issue with the all-steel feel of a sport watch on a bracelet. And actually, the beveled case edges mentioned previously might enhance the watch’s look on a NATO. Now I really wish I hadn’t given this back.
The clasp assembly is simple enough but not flimsy in any way. I still adore the Tudor shield that makes its way into their clasps and as we run along the rest of the bracelet, we find an array of easily adjustable screw links. Like I mentioned, my biggest issue is that the bracelet didn’t taper a little more – but this might be a little selfish, simply because I’m used to the proportions of a 20mm bracelet on a daily basis. Overall, Tudor paired the Black Bay GMT with a fine companion bracelet and unlike other watches, I didn’t find that it amplified the watch’s naturally chunky build. Instead, it complemented the watch’s heft without sacrificing comfort.
One of the big takeaways from Basel this year is the fact that this watch also features the fully in-house, COSC-certified Tudor MT5652 automatic GMT movement. Without sounding like a complete fanboy, I must admit that it was not only accurate and reliable, but also very satisfying to interact with. Every twist of the crown felt substantial, purposeful, and smooth. In some ways, you can feel the mass of the components and perhaps even the handset as you set the time and this was a small detail I grew to appreciate.
I can tell that a lot went into the development of this movement – the 70-hour power reserve alone feels like reason enough to get the watch. Tudor also includes a silicon balance spring (should be standard for everyone at this point) and the movement itself operates at a steady 4Hz. Anytime a movement challenges something like the mighty caliber 3186, people often wonder if it’ll provide what it is usually referred to as “true GMT” functionality.
Unlike many of the off the shelf ETA GMT movements which feature an independently adjustable 24-hour hand, the MT5652 provides the wearer with a jumping local hour hand. In a way, this is mostly useful for travelling through multiple time zones while anchoring secondary and tertiary time zones to the 24-hour hand and rotating bezel. Both iterations are useful, but I’m glad to see Tudor match the functionality of movements found in current dual-time Rolex watches. It’s also worth nothing that this feature also serves as the primary method for date changes – something new GMT lovers are often surprised to discover.
So, with the sting of Rolex’s GMT retail crisis still fresh on our minds, I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s completely ignoring the noise and finding myself daydreaming about the Tudor Black Bay GMT. Waiting lists will soon be a thing of the past, production numbers will catch up, and in some lucky cases, you can currently walk into an AD and walk out with one the same day. This is attractive in itself and I think eventually, Tudor and the rest of the watch world will find that the brand made a very smart move here while offering something that GMT lovers can barely say no to.
During my time with this watch, I found that it really is the best value in 2018 if this is what you’re looking for. Sure, the weight, thickness, and the bracelet will have to be carefully evaluated in person; but I think this is a great, purpose-built watch that delivers quality regardless of what name is printed on the dial. It’s refreshing to feel that kind of satisfaction with the “underdog” GMT model, and I think that many would feel the same if they took it out for a test drive… or flight. I’ll be saving my pennies, but for everyone else out there, the Tudor Black Bay GMT on the bracelet as tested currently retails for $3,900. tudorwatch.com
>Model: Black Bay GMT
>Price: $3,900 as tested
>Size: 41mm wide, 15mm thick, 50mm lug to lug
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: GMT lover heavily invested into the hobby that’s looking to break the $3k threshold with the most value-driven watch possible.
>Best characteristic of watch: The intuitive and user friendly array of GMT functions provided by the the in-house MT5652 movement. The 70-hour power reserve is also a close second in this category.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Some will simply still find the Black Bay case to be too chunky – but this decision needs to be made in person. In a perfect world, I would have loved the bracelet to taper a little more.