Tudor tugs at the heartstrings of many a watch enthusiast by reimagining models from its past (as well as watches from sister brand Rolex).
Take the Black Bay, for example, a 41mm modern dive watch that took visual inspiration from vintage Rolex and Tudor Submariners. Or 2018's wildly popular Black Bay 58, a scaled-down 39mm retro stunner based on the Tudor Submariner from 1958.
Now, at Watches & Wonders 2023, Tudor has unveiled its most authentic retro dive watch yet: the Tudor Black Bay 54, a subtle entry into the Black Bay line but one sure to make a splash. Here's why.
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How big is the Black Bay 54?
No, the watch isn't 54mm in diameter. Like the Black Bay 58, the Black Bay 54's name comes from the year of the watch that inspired it — not the case size.
The new watch measures just 37mm in stainless steel, a traditional size for a mid-size men's dive watch that has in recent years largely fallen by the wayside. Will Tudor's resurrection of this smaller size will inspire other brands to go smaller as well? One can only hope.
What watch is the Tudor Black Bay 54 based on?
The Black Bay 54 draws its inspiration from Tudor's very first dive watch, the Tudor Submariner ref. 7922. Released in 1954, just one year after the first Rolex Submariner, the ref. 7922 had a 37mm case, a lollipop seconds hand, a no-date automatic movement and a symmetrical timing bezel with no graduated hash marks from 0-15. The Black Bay 54 incorporates all of these style cues from the ref. 7922, while also matching the historical watch's crown and bezel dimensions.
How different is the Black Bay 54 to the Black Bay 58?
At first blush, the two sub-40mm Black Bays may seem very similar but differences reveal themselves the closer you look. The 54 is two millimeters smaller across the case, of course, and its crown and bezel also sport a different, more vintage design. The 54's bezel and crown both have slightly chunkier teeth rather than the fine coin edge seen on the 58's hardware, and the 54's crown is noticeably smaller too. As previously mentioned, the Black Bay 54's bezel omits the hash marks of the 58, and it also loses the red triangle at 12 and the gilt printing, going for a clean silver look instead.
Other differences are a bit more subtle. The gilt dial printing is the same on both watches, as are the golden hour and minute hands. But the Black Bay 54 opts for a more Rolex-like lollipop seconds hand rather than the 58's very-Tudor snowflake style. Both watches are available on a rivet-style stainless steel three-link Oyster bracelet, but the 54 gets Tudor's on-the-fly adjustable T-fit clasp, while the 58 has yet to receive the upgrade. The 54 is also available on a black rubber strap, similar to a Rolex Oysterflex bracelet, that's also fitted with the T-fit clasp. There is currently no rubber option for the Black Bay 58.
Under the hood, the Black Bay 54 is powered by Tudor's Manufacture Calibre MT5400. It's a COSC-certified chronometer with a 70-hour power reserve. The movement is functionally the same as the Black Bay 58's MT5402 movement, it's just slightly smaller in size. Finally, the Black Bay 54 features 200m of water resistance, which is the same as the Black Bay 58 and twice that of the original ref. 7922.
Will there be another Tudor Submariner?
We can't say for sure but it seems unlikely given how strongly the Submariner brand is protected by Rolex. The Black Bay 54 is a pretty accurate recreation of the original Tudor Sub, so it may be the closest we ever get.
How much does the Tudor Black Bay 54 cost?
The Black Bay 54 retails for $3,850 on the bracelet — which is $100 cheaper than the Black Bay 58 — and $3,625 on the rubber strap. It's technically out now, but it isn't available online quite yet, which means you'll need to try your luck getting one in person at a Tudor boutique or authorized dealer.