Heritage and know-how come together in the new incarnation of Tudor’s award-winning Black Bay Bronze watch.
Back in 2016, Tudor’s famed Black Bay Bronze model won the Petite Aiguille prize at the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. This year, the brand continues to explore the aesthetic potentials of bronze and the metal’s characteristic patina with a new model sporting a slate-gray color palette and a cool gradient dial.
A Living Metal
As the name of the watch implies, the main feature of the Black Bay Bronze is its bronze case. For one, this choice of metal is clearly in line with Tudor’s maritime heritage, as it serves as an aesthetic reference to the brass fittings found in old ships and vintage diving gear. The Black Bay Bronze’s case, however, is a product of cutting-edge technology, being made of a high-performance aluminum-copper alloy designed for maritime engineering where resistance to corrosion is paramount.
More importantly, however, the bronze case will, in time, develop a subtle but amazing patina. Each individual case will then “grow” into a unique expression of its wearer as the patina develops at its own pace to give the watch an aged and well-travelled look.
Diving into the Past
All in all, this year’s Black Bay Bronze is a perfect example of how Tudor combines its rich heritage—in this case, 60 years’ worth of divers’ watches—with modern watchmaking know-how to create timeless watches that pay tribute to the past while remaining firmly anchored in the present. And while the case, as elaborated on above, is central to this idea, the “taking historical aesthetics and updating them” then runs across the entire watch.
Let’s start with the dial. As befitting of a Black Bay model, the Black Bay Bronze sports a dial inspired by those found on divers’ watches created by Tudor in the 1950s. This particular dial comes in slate-gray and is gradient from the exterior to the center. Gold accents on the bezel, hands and hour markers provide a remarkable play of contrasts.
The strap of the watch, meanwhile, forms another tribute to Tudor’s naval heritage. Back in the day, the French navy would order Tudor watches without bracelets so that they could fit them with their own straps, sometimes handmade. One such strap found in the brand’s archives is made from elastic recovered from rescue parachutes and features a distinctive golden thread. Inspired by this historic creation, Tudor has created a slate-gray woven jacquard strap for the Black Bay Bronze. Alternatively, wearers can opt for a similarly rustic aged black leather strap.
Moving on to the little touches completing the Black Bay Bronze’s aesthetic package, collectors and fans of the brand would definitely recognize quite a few other signature Tudor touches. There is, of course, the distinctive “snowflake” hands on the Black Bay Bronze, which first appeared back in 1969. The unprotected crown featuring the Tudor rose is also present, along with other, smaller characteristics typical to the first generation of Tudor divers’ watches like the holes drilled across the lugs.
The Ticking Heart
As good as a watch may look, it only functions as well as its movement allows it. To that end, the Black Bay Bronze is equipped with the Manufacture Calibre MT5601. As can be expected from an in-house movement from Tudor, the aesthetics of its inner workings are just as impressive as its mechanical capabilities: The rotor features a satin brush finish with sand-blasted detailing, while the bridges and plates feature alternating polished sand-blasted finish and laser engraving.
“With the new Black Bay Bronze, Tudor has created a timepiece which, in the years to come, will definitely become a cherished classic”
More importantly, however, the Manufacture Calibre MT5601 is extremely robust and reliable. As testament to the latter, the movement has been certified as a chronometer by COSC (the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres or the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) thanks in no small part to its silicon balance spring which isn’t affected by magnetic fields. Last but definitely not least, the Black Bay Bronze’s power reserve of 70 hours is also a nice feature.
A Future Classic
With the new Black Bay Bronze, Tudor has created a timepiece which, in the years to come, will definitely become a cherished classic. It is, first and foremost, a reliable timekeeper; but more than that, it is a fusion of heritage and innovation. At its heart the watch features the cutting edge of horology, while outside, the Black Bay Bronze speaks of a rich history, just as it will chronicle the journeys that it will take with its proud wearer.
Clockwise from top left The Black Bay Bronze with aged black leather strap; the watch with the slate-gray woven jacquard strap; the Manufacture Calibre MT5601 movement
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