A black watch is perfect for diving in deep dark waters, and it looks great on dry land, too. In this feature from WatchTime’s June 2017 issue, we test Tudor’s popular model in its recently launched all-black version: the Heritage Black Bay Dark.
Over the past five years the Tudor Heritage Black Bay has grown into an important and attractive watch collection. It was launched in 2012 with a retro-look model in stainless steel with a red dive-watch bezel, followed in 2014 by a more reserved version with a blue rotating bezel, and then one year later with the simplest version so far, in black.
Tudor set off a new round of reworks in 2016 with the introduction of the Heritage Black Bay in bronze, in a 36-mm case, and with an ultra-sporty completely black version. Plus all new and existing Heritage Black Bay models will use the in-house MT5602 movement instead of the ETA 2824, which was previously used. (The MT5602 was introduced in 2015.)
A wide range of different straps and bracelets continues to add variety. Each watch comes with either a three-row stainless-steel bracelet or an antiqued leather strap, and a fabric strap is always included with either option. The boldest choice is the 36-mm 2016 Tudor model with an “urban camouflage” fabric strap.
The watch we tested has a black, brushed PVD-coated stainless-steel bracelet that matches the case. While the dial has a matte finish, the rotating bezel stands apart with a shiny aluminum track. The fact that the ring is not made of ceramic, and is therefore susceptible to scratches, is rather difficult to overlook in a watch that costs more than $4,000.
The Black Bay Dark’s sturdy and functional in-house movement has minimal decoration.
But an entirely positive feature is the movement, especially in light of Tudor’s traditional values of precision and sturdiness. This little brother to Rolex meets initial expectations by ensuring the inspection of every movement by COSC, the official Swiss testing institute for chronometers. In addition to other criteria, COSC certification requires that the watch’s average rate deviation remain within -4 and +6 seconds per day.
Our test on the electronic timing machine confirms this precision. However, in contrast to the official test, we also tested the sixth position, crown right, which revealed a minor outlier in the minus range. While this position is rare during everyday use – it occurs only when raising the wrist to read the time – it is essential for people who store their self-winding watches on watch winders because many of these machines might leave timepieces in a vertical position during rest periods that can last several hours.
Various technical properties of the “Movement Tudor” MT5602 fulfill the second part of the brand’s philosophy: sturdiness. First of all, the robust nature of the 6.5-mm-high movement ensures that no functional problems will occur due to minor tolerance variations. Secondly, the balance is not supported just on one side by a cock but instead lies completely straight and secure beneath a bridge. And thirdly, the silicon hairspring ensures that no deviation in rate will occur in the event of a disturbance or impact resulting from centering errors or deformation.
Additional quality features of the manufacture movement include the long, 70-hour power reserve and the variable inertia balance with four regulating screws. The rate is no longer regulated by changing the active length of the balance spring, as was the case when the Heritage Black Bay had an ETA movement. Even though Tudor used a different fine regulator in the ETA 2824, a stable variable inertia was possible only with the switch to its in-house movement.
The watch’s link bracelet ends in a functional folding clasp and safety lock.
The brand has invested very little effort or cost in decorating the movement, which is consistent with the philosophy of providing reliable watch technologies at a reasonable price. Mechanical watch enthusiasts who may be driven to open the fully threaded caseback (with the correct tool, of course) will discover minimal decorations, limited to a skeletonized and brush-finished rotor engraved with the Tudor name.
Tudor has omitted a date display for the Heritage Black Bay Dark, which we see as a positive change. This sports-design watch follows in the tradition of the Tudor Oyster Submariner of 1954, which also had no date display; its clean, unadorned dial simply has eight round and three rectangular hour markers and one triangular marker at 12 o’clock. The striking hour and seconds hands with their distinctive “snowflake” shapes can be traced to the second Submariner generation, which was presented by Tudor in 1969. The watch’s water resistance today is 200 meters, as it was in 1958. This was an impressively high value at the time of diving pioneers and remains sufficient for most recreational divers today.
In this way, the Heritage Black Bay Dark unites the best of various classic models – now in the casual black outfit of a very trendy sports watch. It’s the coolest way to dive – not to mention the best way to bring diving history into the beach bar.
Manufacturer: Montres Tudor SA, Rue François Dussaud 3-7, 1211 Geneva 26, Switzerland
Reference number: 79230DK
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Movement: In-house Caliber MT5602, automatic, chronometer, 28,800 vph, 25 jewels, hack mechanism, silicon balance spring, fine regulating screws on variable inertia balance, Incabloc shock absorber, power reserve = 70 hours, diameter = 31.8 mm, height = 6.5 mm
Case: PVD-coated stainless steel, uni- directional dive bezel with aluminum track, curved sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating on the inside, screw-down crown, fully threaded PVD-coated caseback, water resistant to 200 m
Strap and clasp: PVD-coated stainless-steel bracelet with one-sided safety folding clasp, additional fabric strap with PVD-coated stainless- steel pronged buckle
Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours):
Dial up +3
Dial down 0
Crown up +1
Crown down +3
Crown left +3
Crown right -1
Greatest deviation 4
Average deviation +1.5
Flat positions 290°
Hanging positions 252°
Dimensions: Diameter = 41 mm, height = 15.5 mm, weight = 170 g
Variations: With antiqued leather strap and additional fabric strap ($4,150)
Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): Superior finishing of the steel bracelet and one-sided folding clasp with safety bar; links have screw connectors, not pins. 8
Operation (5): Hack mechanism and large, grooved screw-down crown. One drawback: The bezel is di cult to use when wearing diving gloves. 4
Case (10): The steel case is water resistant to 200 meters and has a nicely ratcheting rotating bezel. The aluminum dive-time track and PVD coating are not the sturdiest solution. 8
Design (15): The black Heritage Black Bay is the sportiest, though not the most unique version of the popular dive watch. 13
Legibility (5): Reading the time is simple both day and night. Dive time is easily legible only under good lighting. 4
Wearing comfort (10): Weighing in at 170 grams, this watch is comfortable and not at all top-heavy on the steel bracelet. 9
Movement (20): The in-house movement has a sturdy design and runs with chronometer-level precision; minimal decoration 15
Rate results (10): Gain of only 1.5 seconds per day on the timing machine and on the wrist; the greatest deviation was only 4 seconds. 9
Value (15): The price of $4,475 is not too high for such a well-designed manufacture watch with highly developed robust and functional qualities. 13
Total: 83 POINTS
Original photos: OK-Photography.