It’s typical for watch companies producing one-off pieces for the charity auction Only Watch to step slightly outside of their comfort zone and make something a special. But it’s also a chance to tease and test new concepts. Among around 50 prestigious watch brands taking part this year, Tudor’s contribution to Only Watch is a very black version of their popular Black Bay dive watch. Only one example is being made in this exact configuration, but it introduces several firsts for Tudor.
As watch brands across the industry have introduced ceramic-cased versions of popular models, it was probably just a matter of time before Tudor’s incredibly successful Black Bay dive watch joined in, and this is it. It has a 41mm-wide black ceramic case with a matte finish, and, as always, is water-resistant to 200m. The bezel insert is also ceramic, but the bezel itself is black-coated titanium.
Another thing that sets the Tudor Black Bay Ceramic for Only Watch apart from the standard-production Black Bay watches is a display case back (here, in black coated steel). What you will see through the display window is Tudor’s silicon hairspring-equipped in-house MT5602 automatic movement (with 70 hours of power reserve), which is a big part of the value that many people find in Tudor watches.
Finally, Tudor wanted to further visually distinguish this ceramic version from other Black Bay watches. A step beyond the Black Bay Dark watch, which was produced in PVD-coated steel but retained strong contrast on its dial, the Ceramic Black Bay is totally “blacked out.” This means that there is little contrast on the dial aside from that between matte and glossy elements. Black luminescent material on the dial is known to glow only extremely faintly. Using it is an approach which has been around in the watch world for a while, generally for fashion or style considerations, and it more or less leaves a watch functionally illegible, and primarily ornamental.
Tudor, however, and particularly its Black Bay, has sufficient following and hype to drive expectations for bidding far above its estimate of $4,500 to $5,500, especially considering the brand’s past Only Watch auction performance earning over 100 times the steel Black Bay’s retail price. Just one piece is being produced for Only Watch 2019, but it is possible a more widely available ceramic Black Bay option is in the future.
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