Ever since the release of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which was announced at Baselworld in 2018, the watch world has heaped praise upon it, and speculated what a follow up might look like. Zach W’s review, just about one year out from the watch’s public unveiling, made it clear that this watch is, quite simply, just flat out good. The size of the case, the way it evokes vintage Rolex, and the overall fantastic build quality are all strong reasons as to why this watch has been waitlisted at authorized dealers everywhere for as long as it has existed. Now, at long last, we have the update we knew was inevitable: a Black Bay Fifty-Eight with a blue dial and bezel, in the same appealing form factor of the original. Let’s take a look at what is likely to be one of the most talked about watches of the year.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Dial: Blue
- Dimensions: 39mm
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Water Resistance: 200 meters
- Crown: Screw down
- Movement: MT5402
- Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet, fabric, “soft touch”
- Price: $ 3,375 – $ 3,700
- Reference Number: 79030B
- Expected Release: Available now
First, a little context, because the Black Bay, both as a concept and as a lineup of watches from Tudor, is an incredibly important thing in the world of watches in 2020. The original Black Bay, you’ll recall, was introduced all the way back in 2012. Yes, we’ve been living in a Black Bay world for over 8 years at this point, hard as it might be to believe. Back then, the concept of a heritage inspired watch was still a relatively new thing, and the burgundy bezeled Black Bay was something of a siren song to Rolex lovers who lusted after historic big crown Submariners but couldn’t afford the rapidly rising price tags.
The watch was a hit, and variants in blue and black soon followed. An in-house movement was developed, and the 41mm Black Bays were reintroduced with additional text on the dial indicating their chronometer rating, and the rose logo gave way to the Tudor’s shield. An almost endless stream of variants would come in the following years. Black Bays with steel bezels and no bezels at all, blacked out cases, hints of gold, cases in bronze, plus a chronograph, a GMT, and a supremely weird diver based on a military prototype. And, of course, we got the Fifty-Eight, a watch which many lovers of vintage Rolex wanted the Black Bay to be in the first place, with classic proportions and a more elegant wearing experience than the bigger Black Bay, a timepiece which many thought to be too thick and unwieldy to be a comfortable daily wearer.
And now, with the Black Bay Fifty-Eight in navy blue, watch lovers have a choice when it comes to the smaller, easier to wear Black Bay. The original has a heavily vintage influenced gilt inflected dial – a choice that’s hard not to love if you have a predisposition toward key classic Submariners. The new option is quite a bit different in character, and while the case and bracelet are the same, and remain heavily in debt to vintage feel and proportions, the new matte blue dial and bezel seen here have a somewhat cleaner and more modern feel, particularly as they’re complemented by a stark white minutes track and lume plots at each hour.
Blue is more than just another color choice for Tudor, however. The Tudor Submariner in blue was introduced in 1969, and in the 1970s was adopted by the French navy. Tudor has had a long string of blue sports watches over the years, making the color an obvious choice for the new Fifty-Eight. Seen side by side with an original blue Tudor Sub, the similarities in tone are striking.
The blue Fifty-Eight is still powered by the same in-house movement, caliber MT5402. It’s chronometer certified, and worth pointing out that this movement was specially designed for the original Black Bay Fifty-Eight – it’s not the same movement found in the larger Black Bays plopped into a smaller case. In order to achieve the thinness Tudor was after with this model, an entirely new caliber had to be developed.
Now that the Fifty-Eight line has actually become a line under the Black Bay umbrella, it will be interesting to see what’s to come for other Black Bays. It’s been awhile, after all, since that original 41mm Black Bay has seen an update, and with expansion in the smaller model (which, we should remember, has been so popular ADs simply can’t keep it in stock), I wonder how committed Tudor is to the larger form factor.
The new Black Bay Fifty-Eight in Navy blue is available now through Tudor ADs and can be purchased on a bracelet for $ 3,700, or a fabric mil-strap for $ 3,375. It’s also available on a new “soft touch” strap, which Tudor claims resembles flannel. Tudor