March 15, 2016
by Ariel Adams
If ever there were a good time to compliment a brand on actually following watch consumer taste trends, it is with today’s modern Tudor. For Baselworld 2016, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze reference 79250BM introduces the brand’s first bronze case as well as an in-house-made Tudor movement into the popular Heritage Black Bay series. What’s even better is that this new version of the Tudor Black Bay is actually different enough to compel existing Black Bay watch owners to add it to their collection.
Last year, in 2015, Tudor announced their first in-house-made movements which were in the North Flag as well as Pelagos collections. There was speculation that the caliber MT5612 (or one like it) would eventually show up in a Black Bay (aBlogtoWatch review here) model timepiece. What Tudor did was discontinue the first generation Pelagos watches with base Swiss ETA movements in favor of their new in-house-made movements. It appears that Tudor might be doing something similar with the Heritage Black Bay collection, but for now, it seems that Tudor Black Bay watches will be produced both with models that use ETA movements and those that use their own in-house MT (“Manufacture Tudor”) movements.
Tudor was clever enough to make this new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze watch with the in-house movement more than just a case material variant. Not only is the dial different – though still in line with Tudor’s history of military and dive watches – but the case is also a bit larger, growing from 41mm wide in size to 43mm.
Bronze as a case material exists in various alloys, just as not all “stainless steel” metals are the same. Many people do not realize that there are various versions of 316L-grade steel. The particular form of bronze Tudor uses for the reference 79250BM Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is an “aluminum bronze alloy.” One of the smaller concepts mentioned by Tudor is potentially very important. Tudor mentions that the bronze case material on the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze is specially brushed so as to ensure an even level of patina formation. Why is this important? Well, all bronze watch cases change in color over time as the metal reacts to the oxygen in the air. This color change is fondly referred by those who like the “vintage effect” as a “patina.” What can happen on some bronze cases, though, is what I’ll call a “stain” or “blotching” effect, meaning that while the entire case is getting a patina, parts of it are uneven or get blotchy.
Tudor specifies that “the Heritage Black Bay Bronze has entirely brushed finishes that guarantee a homogeneous development of the patina.” If this works out how we anticipate it will, then it means owners of the 79250BM watch will receive a very cool-looking and even patina effect over time which should “mature” a few years after initial purchase. As a color, bronze is quite attractive and a very “sensible” alternative to, say… gold. With the bronze color comes new attractive dial and accent color options such as brown.
Brown as a watch color wasn’t very popular until someone at a marketing department decided it was better to call it “chocolate.” The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze has a brown-colored anodized aluminum insert in the rotating diver’s-style bezel, as well as a matching dial with gold-toned hour markers and hands. The 79250BM dial is a nice compliment to the existing Black Black models, and uses the same style of hands complete with a “snowflake” hour hand. The “Submariner-style” hour markers also make use of Arabic numerals for 3, 6, and 9 o’clock – the first for Black Bay and is similar to the dial on the Tudor Ranger (aBlogtoWatch review here). With that said, the dial is based on some classic designs, and in the group is most commonly seen today in the Rolex Explorer.
Oddly, the colors and style of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze watch were ironically foretold a few months ago when Bamford Watch Department released their customized Rolex Submariner “Commando” (hands-on here) which made use of a similar dial and had a sand-colored case. This was a mere coincidence, of course, but it is clear that there has been demand for a greater variety of vintage-themed Rolex and Tudor watches in modern forms with modern conveniences.
Given Tudor’s excellent case finishing and production, I will go so for as to anticipate that the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze may very well be the best bronze watch case on the market when it is commercially released sometime in 2016. The 43mm-wide case should offer a bolder presence on the wrist, and the size helps fill a need for a slightly larger military-style Tudor watch with some retro flair alongside the decidedly more modern Pelagos dive watch family.
For the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze, Tudor maintains the same 200 meters of water resistance as the other Black Bay models, and over the dial is of course an AR-coated sapphire crystal. For the caseback, Tudor does not use bronze because the metal tends to not react well with skin (it can turn it green). A PVD-coated steel caseback is used, which should match the color of the rest of the bronze case. The crown is said to be in bronze, though, so it will patina with the rest of the case.
We won’t really be able to see the domed effect of the dial very well until we see the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze in person, but it should look very attractive and give the watch a good sense of visual depth. Further refinements to the dial include perfectly linear text (there is arched text on other Black Bay models), and less of it as compared to the Pelagos – which when Tudor included an in-house movement was criticized for having too much text on the face.
Once again looking back at their history, Tudor is influenced by the past when they designed the two strap choices that are both included with the 79250BM watch. First is a distressed “aged” leather strap with a matching bronze buckle, and second is a fabric strap with a thin “racing stripe” down the middle which is said to be inspired by straps the French military used on watches it ordered from Tudor long ago in the past. The fabric strap should prove quite comfortable and also comes with a matching bronze buckle.
Inside the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze watch is a new in-house movement which is a minor variant of the existing in-house movement family. The watch contains the Tudor caliber MT5601 automatic which offers just the time. The Pelagos’ movement only differs in that it offers a date complication. The MT5601 matches the clean time-only display of the other Black Bay models.
Tudor’s MT5601 movement isn’t just an in-house-made analog to the ETA 2892-2 automatic. Recall that it uses a lot of impressive features such as a totally anti-magnetic and long-lasting silicon balance spring, as well as offering 70 hours of power reserve while operating at 4Hz (28,800 bph). It is also said to have more shock-resistance features than the ETA movement. Last, the Tudor MT5601 movements will each be COSC Chronometer certified.
Tudor is set to really dominate the bronze watch market in 2016 with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze that is a very strong product overall. It will not be the cheapest bronze watch, nor will it be the most expensive, but for conservative watch lovers who want a very reliable experience, I think the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze will be the timepiece to beat. Tudor is also appeasing fans by including their in-house movements in more models and further adding case size options to their larger collection. This is certainly a timepiece we are excited to put on our wrists. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze reference 79250BM is priced at 3,800 Swiss francs. tudorwatch.com