The Black Bay line of watches has spawned a cult following for the brand – for those who are enamoured by watches of bygone years, taking elements from Tudor’s back catalogue of utilitarian divers, and distilling them into the collection we see today. For the lovers of vintage and wabi-sabi, the Black Bay is vintage enough to look like an old watch, but modern enough to survive anything that the modern day wearer can throw at it. But for some, the Black Bay has not been old-school enough for them, until 2023, with the unveiling of the new Black Bay 54 that reproduces much of what people love about vintage watches.
The Tudor Submariner is a watch that has at times lived in the shadow of its bigger brother from the brand with the Crown, however, it is by no means less capable, with the watches following the philosophy of Hans Wilsdorf in making watches just as reliable, but available to more people. Its functionality would prove to be useful to those in the military, being used by many members of the US Armed Forces, as well as the “Snowflake” Submariners being famously adopted by the Marine Nationale of France. These stories of provenance and hard use have created a cult following amongst watch enthusiasts for Tudor’s vintage divers watches which see their continuation in the Black Bay.
The Black Bay 54 takes its inspiration from the original Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner Ref. 7922 that was released in 1954, remaining true to its proportions measuring in at 37mm. In this era, this size was plenty big enough for people to wear diving, and this reference was tested and adopted by French and US Navies, as well as being widely used by civilian diving outfits.
Historical details abound on this watch, with a coin-edged unidirectional rotating bezel that echoes the original ref. 7922, as well as a bezel insert that, like the original, does not have individual minute graduations from 0 to 15 minutes – a purely aesthetic choice, but one that will please lovers of vintage Tudor. Further design elements taken from the annals of history include the hands, which although are from a later 1970s era design, feature tapers at the base near the cannon pinion, which are reminiscent of the pencil hands seen on some models that were released around the time of the ref. 7922. The dial is also very subtly domed, with a more modern yet soft radial brushing with gilt accents on the minute track, dial font and applied markers with the same gilt finishing. A no-date dial completes the vintage-inspired look for even the most fastidious of us watch aficionados. The watch is available on two options, a vintage-style metal bracelet with stylised rivets, or a form-fitting rubber strap – both of which come with the renowned T-Fit clasp for rapid size adjustment on-the-fly.
Powering the Black Bay 54 is the Manufacture Calibre MT5400, which is COSC certified, protected against magnetic fields thanks to a silicon balance spring, and has 70 hours of autonomy. Curiously, it is rated internally to -2/+4 seconds per day, much higher than COSC standard, which should bring peace of mind to the wearer that their watch is a reliable timekeeper.
Tudor keep on coming with the hits from the Black Bay, and rightfully so – it is a watch that captures the sentiment of many watch lovers for something that looks antiquated, but is fully capable of keeping up with active lifestyles, as well as keeping time to a modern standard. The brand continues to dig deep into its archives, and much to the delight of watch fans around the world, we can only continue to imagine the treasures that the Shield unearths in their vaults.
37mm stainless steel case with polished and satin finish
60-minute unidirectional bezel in stainless steel with aluminium insert devoid of minute graduations
Stainless steel screw-down crown with the TUDOR rose in relief
Domed sapphire crystal
Waterproof to 200m (660 ft)
Three-link stainless steel bracelet with polished and satin finish, or rubber strap, both with TUDOR “T-fit” clasp
Manufacture Calibre MT5400 (COSC)
Self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system
Swiss Chronometer officially certified by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute)