Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay Chronograph profits from a collaboration with Breitling while drawing deeply from Tudor’s own history. In this feature from the WatchTime archives, with original photos by OK-Photography, we give the watch an in-depth review.
Our photographer appreciates high-quality products that have a story to tell – like his Leica camera that’s been around since 1954, attached to a leather strap from Cyprus that has a unique, well-worn patina. As he’s staging the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono for our photo shoot for this review, it occurs to him that he prefers classic objects with no “sell-by date.”
Tudor draws characteristic elements of this watch from models in its past. The curved sapphire crystal and dial recall the first Tudor dive watch. The oversize “Big Crown” is a design feature of the Reference 7924 from 1958, the first Tudor wristwatch to be water-resistant to a depth of 200 meters. The water resistance is printed in red on the dial of this watch, just as it was on historical models. And the new model’s “snowflake” hands are like those on the Tudor wristwatches that were supplied to the French Navy in the 1970s. History also connects the new Heritage Black Bay Chrono with the world of motorsports – represented here by the chronograph with its fixed tachymeter bezel, which has been a feature of all Tudor stopwatches. Tudor introduced its first chronograph, the “Prince Oysterdate,” equipped with an ETA/ Valjoux 7734 movement, in 1970.
This new model’s movement is the result of a collaboration with Breitling. The two brands are now sharing expertise in the design and production of mechanical movements with the aim of developing more in-house capabilities. Using Breitling Caliber B01 as a base, Tudor has installed an in-house regulator with a silicon hairspring – a joint patent of Rolex, Patek Philippe and the Swatch Group – and then placed its own rotor on top. Tudor calls it the MT5813 caliber and it has been certified by the COSC as a chronometer. (In turn, Breitling is using Tudor’s MT5612 caliber as a base movement.)
Tudor has made another technical modification to the original base movement. Like its first chronograph, the subdial at 3 o’clock has a 45-minute range instead of the usual 30 minutes.
This layout is not problem-free. On the one hand, the counter is quite small, and on the other, the large square at the end of the snowflake hour hand occasionally blocks the recessed subdial. This also occurs with the small seconds display, which is located across the dial at 9 o’clock. But it is still sufficient for a function check – and the chronograph can be engaged if this presents a problem for the wearer. The vertical friction clutch makes this possible and also prevents the hand from advancing suddenly or jumping when the chronograph is started.
Our rate tests showed that the watch rates are approximately the same whether the chronograph is engaged or not. And if we had to point out a fault, it would be that the rate occasionally falls into the minus range. Still, the watch will run for days with virtually no notable deviation.
And there’s something else that affects the timing function: in order to guarantee the water resistance of the watch to a depth of 200 meters, two screw-down pushers have been placed next to the crown (as on the first Tudor chronographs). It’s necessary to unscrew both as far as possible before the chronograph can be started. Operating the pusher also requires a great deal of pressure to overcome rather stiff resistance. The hack mechanism and restart are much easier, and the reset function has a very precise pressure point.
The Big Crown sits inside a long tube. After releasing the screw by turning it counterclockwise, the crown jumps out for the purpose of manual winding. It can also be easily pulled into the correct positions for quick-date adjustment and hand setting, and then returned securely to its screw-down, locked position.
The date mechanism is designed for quick and easy date correction. When the watch is running, it advances to the next day precisely at midnight. It makes a strong impression in black and white at 6 o’clock. The resulting omission of a luminous dot here and at 3 and 9 o’clock is no problem, since the remaining eight glowing dots and the triangle at 12 o’clock, along with the substantial hands, make it easy to read the time day or night. The chronograph function retreats modestly to the background during the day and disappears at night.
Our test piece came with a stainless-steel bracelet, similar to the ones on Tudor models from the 1950s and ‘60s. It is easily recognizable thanks to the prominent rivets connecting the links, which are arranged like steps – another detail from past designs.
Each watch also comes with a denim strap, a trademark of the Heritage collection. The fabric is woven using 19th-century Jacquard looms by a 150-year-old French company. The method of manufacture is unusual and the feeling on the wrist is extremely comfortable. But our photographer preferred the alternate strap made of brown leather, which matched his handcrafted wallet.
Manufacturer: Montres Tudor SA, Rue François-Dussaud 3-7, 1211, Geneva 26, Switzerland
Reference number: 79350
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph (central elapsed seconds, 45-minute counter), tachymeter track
Movement: MT5813, based on Breitling B01, automatic, 28,800 vph, 41 jewels, Incabloc shock absorption, screw- type fine regulation, approx. 70-hour power reserve, diameter = 30.4 mm, height = 7.23 mm
Case: Stainless steel with brushed and polished finish, water resistant to 200 meters
Bracelet and clasp: Integrated stainless-steel bracelet and additional fabric strap
Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours (Fully wound/after 24 hours):
Dial up: +2.1 / +0.9
Dial down: +4.7 / +3.1
Crown up: –0.6 / –4.3
Crown down: –0.8 / +0.4
Crown left: 0 / –0.2
Greatest deviation: 5.5 / 7.4
Average deviation: +1.1 / 0
Flat positions 315° / 299°
Hanging positions 290° / 270°
Dimensions: Diameter = 41.48 mm, height = 14.79 mm, weight = 190 g
Variations: With leather strap and additional fabric strap ($4,725)