March 25, 2017
by Ariel Adams
In addition to sorting out all the facts to learn about a watch, some watches you just won’t know if you’ll like until you put them on. It was that way with the “two-tone” Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G (steel & gold) 79733N. Appreciating a watch is really a combination of three things. First is liking the way it looks. Second is liking the way it feels while wearing it. Third is an ability to feel that the value is worth the asking price – especially when compared to the competition. Walking by the window of the Tudor booth at Baselworld 2017, I didn’t think much of the “me too” two-tone Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G with its attractive but predictably handsome steel and gold looks. Then, wearing it, I finally realized that it was, for me, Swiss Tudor’s star of the show.
I can’t speak for the entire world, but I know that in the United States the Tudor Heritage Black Bay collection is easily the most successful and best selling of Tudor’s watches. For that reason, Tudor has created a rather large family of Black Bay models, while at the same time trying to offer a healthy level of variety (versus mere color changes) between the various models. For the most part, I can endorse most of them as good choices for those seeking a decently priced classic-looking sports watch. Though I don’t personally have one yet. Eventually, I probably will. One good reason for that is that I’m pretty stuck on Tudor’s big brother Rolex, even though I do feel that Tudor offers a lot of value for those whose price cap is about $3,000 – $5,000.
Looking at the current Tudor catalog in front of me, there are eight distinct versions of the Heritage Black Bay, and many of those are available on various strap/bracelet combinations. That means a lot of consumer choice, and it seems that each year Tudor adds more to the collection, in addition to offering cosmetic options such as new straps. I do hope that the collection doesn’t go overboard with too many models being available. I think the Tudor Heritage Black Bay family is about as full as it should be right now, and if Tudor adds more they need to discontinue some of the older models.
For 2017, Tudor added both the Heritage Black Bay Steel and the Black Bay S&G. Other than both being introduced in 2017, what they share in common distinct from other Black Bay watches is the presence of a date window on the dial at 3 o’clock. Other Black Bay watches have time-only dials without the date. This feature is something you love, hate, or are totally ambivalent to depending on the particular flavor of watch nerd that you are. I happen to for the most part exist in the latter opinion camp.
As I said above, S&G stands for “steel and gold,” and for whatever reason, Tudor isn’t calling this a “two-tone” model. When I first saw it, I thought that it was a steel and bronze watch, but it is steel with 18k yellow gold. The version on the bracelet has gold center-links, but given the price point, these are not fully gold. Rather, you have center links wrapped in a jacket of gold, with steel on the inside. This isn’t plating, exactly, but a jacket of gold. This accounts for the still fair price. In any event, I see these as high-quality but a “poor man’s two-tone Rolex Submariner.”
Gold is also used on the case around the bezel and for the crown. More gold color is used on the bezel text, as well as on the dial for the hands and hour markers. If you like the look of a two-tone classic diving watch and can’t afford the $10,000-plus Rolex Submariner model, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G is going to be your best bet. Two-tone looks like this (especially against a black dial) are very handsome and masculine, in my opinion, but also offer a welcome amount of flashiness. No, it isn’t a look that is for everyone, but I happen to like it a lot.
The Tudor Black Bay case is 41mm wide, which is 1mm larger than the 40mm wide Rolex Submariner. The case is water-resistant to 200m with a dramatically tall “box style” sapphire crystal whose design is meant to hearken to vintage timepieces. The gold elements of the bezel and crown are apparent but, honestly, a lot less obvious in the version of this reference 79733N on a strap versus a bracelet. In my opinion, there simply isn’t too much of a reason to get the S&G version of the Tudor Black Bay over the standard Black Bay if you are going to get it on a strap. Then again, the price difference between the two is only 400 Swiss francs.
On the matching two-tone bracelet, the S&G comes alive and makes a very compelling case for itself. You get a modern-sized, timeless-looking, elegant dive watch with some flashy sex appeal. The Tudor Black Bay Steel, for example, is the totally manly version, while the Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G is proper for social situations when you want to look a bit impressive. Moreover, the two-tone steel with 18K yellow gold-wrapped center link bracelet has the riveted edges that Tudor introduced a few years ago. Such a style hearkens to early metal watch bracelets and adds welcome detailing to the overall look.
Inside the Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G 79733N is the in-house-made Tudor caliber MT5612. This is the same as in the Tudor Black Bay Steel given that it has a date indicator wheel. The other Tudor Black Bay watches have a caliber MT5601, which is more or less the same but without the date. The automatic movement is COSC Chronometer certified, running at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a power reserve of 70 hours. It also has a variable inertia balance wheel with a silicon balance spring.
The only downside to getting the Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G on the bracelet is that it bumps the price up by 1,150 Swiss francs. That is a bit much even if the bracelet has some gold in it. Then again, I know of plenty of entirely steel bracelets that when purchased alone cost more than that. Further, both the 79733N watch on the bracelet or the leather strap comes with a fabric NATO-style strap as well.
As I said, if the idea of a two-tone classic diving watch appeals to you, and the two-tone Rolex Submariner is out of your price range, then the Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G is a great choice. It is not only less than half the price, but a lot of people will like the brushed versus polished center links. Price for the Tudor Heritage Black Bay S&G 79733N on the leather strap is 3,600 Swiss francs, and on the matching two-tone steel and 18k yellow gold bracelet the price is 4,750 Swiss francs. This is the most expensive non-chronograph version of the Black Bay, but still a pretty great deal. tudorwatch.com