It came from nowhere
Honestly, it was a surprise that the new Black Bay 58 “Navy Blue” was launched now. Afterall, it was only a few months ago when Tudor and big brother Rolex announced that their 2020 releases would be postponed indefinitely, and this was following the cancellation of Baselworld this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
To be fair of course, “postponed indefinitely” does mean anytime after that point, and so now, we’ve suddenly seen a vigorous implementation of a very different strategy in the way that the brand’s watches are being launched. Instead of a once per year extravaganza at Baselworld with the simultaneous launch of all the novelties of the year, it seems that, due to the way the world is changing, it will probably become a series of individual launches throughout the year instead. It’s a trend that has been going on for some time with a few watch brands, who found that doing it this way would allow their launches to be clear of the clutter of everyone releasing their new watches all at once at the big fairs. Another benefit of course is how it gives an element of surprise that is always nice when dealing with such products of pleasure. For Tudor, this way of doing things is entirely new, and it was nice that the new watch was announced right when the physical stock was already delivered and ready for sale at dealers worldwide. That’s why there are people out there who were able to buy the watch the moment that the news was dropped, and to also film review videos for Youtube within the same day.
What a difference to not have to wait for a watch that doesn’t even have a chance to become eagerly anticipated. Instant gratification and fulfilment is a state of affairs that will certainly be the way to go from here on in, for the watch industry.
The size of popularity
The original Black Bay Fifty-Eight became, from the moment it was released, an instant hit. Aside from the obvious attributes that would ensure its success, from the bank vault solidity of construction that we expect from Tudor, its in-house movement and aesthetic vintage touches, the main reason was the size that it was offered in. While the Black Bay line that was launched in 2012 has been the cornerstone of Tudor’s rise in recent times, with the above-mentioned attributes being the ingredients that have ensured it, the main Achilles heel of the collection for some, was the size of the Black Bay case, which came in at 41mm in diameter and 14.75mm thick.
Now this is a size that is in line with most modern watches released these days and by itself, there is nothing out of the ordinary.
Yet when compared to Rolex, its stablemate and maker of the post popular and admired sports watches on the planet, it was a little too big. Rolex of course keeps most of their signature models such as the Daytona, GMT-Master 2 and Submariner to the sweet spot size of 40mm, with a few exceptions such as the complication laded Sky-Dweller at 42mm x 14.01mm and the Deepsea SeaDweller at 44.0 mm x 17.7 mm, both watches that are bigger than the norm because of technical reasons. So for the Tudor fan who wanted their Black Bay to have the smaller, more manageable footprint of the classic 40mm Rolex sports watch, it was not to be – until the Black Bay 58 which came in at 39mm in diameter and just 11.9mm thick. We might be talking about mere millimetres here, but when it is in regards to watch sizes, these little differences make all the difference in the world.
What the Black Bay 58 did was to keep everything that was loved about the Black Bay line, shaving off a few millimetres here and there, and for some legitimacy, base the watch off the reference 7924 or “Big Crown” from 1958.
What did this simple move achieve? Well, let me describe the appeal of the watch in two words: Waiting List.
And you thought it was only Rolex that could do that.
Black Bay 58 Navy Blue
With the success of the Black Bay 58, Tudor knew that they had found a winning formula, and so it was only a matter of time that this new case size would be expanded across more models. The new watch, the Black Bay 58 Navy Blue is the first of more that I expect will come with this smaller 39mm case size.As the name implies, the watch is differentiated by the first Black Bay 58 by having a Navy Blue dial and a matching Navy Blue aluminum bezel insert. The Navy Blue is different in feel however, as it doesn’t have the vintage elements such as the gilt finished dial, and the red bezel triangle. Instead it comes across as more modern, and bears the colour scheme of white elements, (hands, markers and text) against the navy blue background. This gives the watch something of a similar feel to the Pelagos Blue that I reviewed before, albeit in a more classically styled Oyster case.
Or perhaps another somewhat similar looking watch, colourwise, is the Rolex Submariner reference 116619, a watch that is famous for having a blue bezel and dial, and coming in a white gold case. That watch is sometimes known by its nickname: “Smurf”. So many we can nickname the new Black Bay 58, the Tudor Smurf as well? Now to be clear, the new watch is exactly the same as the previous one, save for the new colours. It still comes with the inhouse calibre MT 5402, a COSC certified movement with a silicon hairspring and 70 hours power reserve, which is basically all the good stuff that anyone really needs. As well for this launch, the watch is also available on a new soft touch strap, which is made of a synthetic and tactile material that resembles a flannel. It feels very comfortable on the wrist, and does extend one of the brand’s hallmarks, introducing cool fabric straps every now and then, with their watches. It’s quite obvious that this watch will do well, and certainly, the ones that were available for purchase at launch have all mostly been snapped up already, which for the Black Bay 58, is business as usual. What will Tudor do from now on? I think, focus on making more 39-40mm sized watches because that is what people want. If I’m right, maybe we can look forward to a smaller GMT or chronograph in the future, both of which are well within the technical capabilities of Tudor. Let’s see how it goes.