Here’s a dilemma: You want the look and feel of a vintage dive watch, but the reliability and performance that only modern engineering can provide. Sure, a watch from 60 years ago will look fantastic with just about anything, but don’t expect the dried-out seals and plastic crystal to hold up to today’s manufacturing technology. And though many new dive watches try to recapture the look and feel of their mid-century ancestors, many miss the mark and fail to properly honor the small details that make vintage pieces so sought-after.
TUDOR’s Heritage Black Bay is a different story. The watchmaker has over 60 years of dive watch engineering from which to draw, and the end result is essentially a collection of TUDOR’s greatest hits. Take, for instance, the domed, matte black dial. It’s adorned with gold text and minute markings, which faithfully mirror the gold “gilt” markings on the Oyster Prince Submariner from the 1950s. And while the watch uses modern applied hour markers, as opposed to painted ones more commonly found on vintage divers, their pink gold trim surrounds make them work with the rest of the dial’s vintage aesthetic.
Many of the watch’s design cues are references to past TUDOR watches. The retro “Snowflake” hands harken back to the divers used by the French Navy in the 1970s, while the distinct oversized crown is a callback to the Submariner 7924 “Big Crown” from 1958. The thin, coin-edged bezel also features an aluminum insert featuring a red triangle at twelve o’clock, a nod to the red marker found on some rare early Submariners. Not content to sequester the vintage cues to the case and dial, TUDOR made the watch available with either a distressed leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet inspired by the brand’s riveted bracelets made in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Both options feel right at home, and both come with an extra military-style Jacquard fabric strap. Leather strap examples retail for $3,350; choose the steel bracelet for $3,675.
Of course, looks are only part of the equation. The Black Bay now features TUDOR in-house movement MT5602. It offers up a 70-hour power reserve and is certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), making it one of only about six percent of Swiss watches to undergo its strict set of durability and accuracy tests. It’s a natural progression for the brand, which has long used movements supplied by ETA.
It all culminates in a watch that offers the best of both worlds: dashing, vintage looks, but with modern-day reliability. This is a watch that combines 200 meters of water proofness and superlative COSC-certified accuracy with finishing that pairs with a tailored suit as well as it would with Scuba gear.