WATCH REVIEW

Well Traveled Companion: Reviewing the Tudor Black Bay GMT


Tudor adds world-time functionality to the Black Bay with new manufacture Caliber MT5652. Not only does the GMT version run more accurately than many other chronometer-tested watches, it boasts a 70-hour power reserve and the time displays can be set in several different ways.

Tudor Black Bay GMT front
The Tudor Black Bay GMT offers a user-friendly second-time-zone function at an appealing price point.

Acting globally and traveling around the world are no longer the exclusive privilege of pilots, top executives and other jet-setting professionals. A GMT function, which lets a watch’s wearer read the time in a second time zone, not only fits well in our globalized age, it’s also a good fit for the Tudor Black Bay. In the spirit of Rolex’s founder Hans Wilsdorf, who established Montres Tudor SA in 1946 as a high-quality but less costly alternative to Rolex, the Black Bay GMT, our test watch, preserves an appealing price-performance ratio while simultaneously encasing the brand’s own manufacture caliber. The Black Bay GMT not only has a time-zone function that’s well suited for everyday use, the model also reaffirms Tudor’s corporate strategy of achieving independence and a distinctive identity for the brand. Tudor relied on movements made by other Swiss manufacturers from its founding until 2015, when Calibers MT5612 and MT5621 became the first Tudor movements encased inside the brand’s watches. After chronograph Caliber MT5813, which was created in cooperation with Breitling, Caliber MT5652 now follows suit as a second manufacture movement with an additional complication.

The Time Displays Can Function in Different Ways
Proof that this new design is not merely a modular addition to an existing caliber is the fact that when the crown is withdrawn to its middle position and turned manually, the hour hand moves in steps, forward or back, to show a different zone’s time while simultaneously carrying the date display along with it. All this occurs without halting the balance, which means that the exact time is always preserved to the second. We’re familiar with similar mechanisms in other modern movements, for instance, from Omega and Breitling.

Tudor Black Bay GMT - side
The bezel has been rotated and together with the 24-hour hand points to a second time zone. If you return the bezel to its original position, you can read the time in a third zone.

The time-zone function can be used in several different ways. The basic option is to utilize the second hour hand as a 24-hour display relating to your local time zone. If you want to quickly display a different time zone, simply twist the bidirectional rotatable bezel until the correct hour digit is aligned with the tip of the 24-hour hand. The bezel’s blue-and-red color scheme immediately shows whether it is day or night in the selected second time zone. The rotatable ring’s 48 individual detent positions let you set it for zones that deviate by half an hour from their neighbors, for instance, India, Myanmar and the state of South Australia. The second option is to use the 24-hour hand to select a second time while keeping the bezel in its original position. The disadvantage of this method is that the movement must be halted when manually turning the crown in its third pulled-out position, which means you’ll have to reset the seconds hand to restore to-the-second timekeeping. The hour hand naturally rotates when the crown is turned in the hand-setting position, so this hand, too, must be restored to its correct local time position and, if necessary, the date switching must also be taken into account.

The Black Bay GMT makes it easy to set a new local time when traveling. All you need to do is withdraw the crown to its middle position and turn it. The main hour hand responds by advancing or retreating in hourly increments while the movement continues to run. The 24-hour hand preserves the home time or the time in a designated second time zone. When you return home after your journey, you simply reset the main hour hand forward or back.

The large knurled crown, which has been adapted from its counterparts on the first Tudor divers’ watches that were waterproof to 200 meters, makes operation very convenient. The crown is screwed into a long tube, but it can be withdrawn smoothly, clicked reliably into its individual positions and securely reinserted by overcoming a spring’s slight but noticeable resistance.

Tudor Black Bay GMT - back
Unfortunately hidden behind a massive opaque caseback, Tudor’s manufacture Caliber MT5652 has a 70-hour power reserve and keeps time with very good rate values.

Good Legibility Both Day and Night
The stylized rose atop the crown recalls Tudor’s original logo. Since 1969, the brand has used a coat-of-arms shield on its dials. The shield is used on the dial of our test watch, which was also inspired by the divers’ watches that Tudor made in the 1950s.

Striking hour appliqués – eight circles, two rectangles and one triangle – stand out against the dial’s matte black background. Together with the “snowflake” hands, which are filled with luminous material, these appliqués provide strong contrast during the day and bright luminosity at night for optimum legibility around the clock.

Snowflake hands are an unmistakable design feature of Tudor watches, first appearing in 1969. While they can be found on the dial three times, there’s little chance of confusing them. The impressively large, characteristic, snowflake on the hour hand dominates the dial; the second one is constantly in motion on the seconds hand; and the third one moves slowly at the tip of the red 24-hour hand.

The dial’s bezel can be rotated in both directions and boasts a bicolor aluminum inlay in matte navy blue and Bordeaux red. This inlay suits the watch’s styling and is typical of models in the Black Bay line, as is the fine knurling on the bezel’s sides, which transition to the 41-mm stainless-steel case that is pressure resistant to 20 bar. While this watch can descend 200 meters below the water’s surface, it’s still not a full-fledged divers’ watch, although it offers many of the same features, including a one-sided folding clasp with an extension mechanism and a safety catch.

Tudor Black Bay GMT - Lume
Shown at night, the 24-hour hand indicates a second zone’s time; the bezel is in its basic starting position.

The handsome ensemble of bezel and case is completed by a riveted bracelet which, like many other details on the Black Bay GMT, recalls Tudor’s watches from the 1950s and ’60s. The wristbands of those models were known for the visible rivet heads that connected the various components and for their step-like arrangement. The steel bracelet of the Black Bay GMT tapers from a width of 22 mm at its connection with the case to 18 mm at its clasp.

Today, the bracelet’s massive components are fabricated using modern manufacturing processes. Other straps are available in leather tanned to a shade of brown known as Terra di Siena or in a textile fabric. The textile fabric straps are made in France by a family-owned, 150-year-old company that uses the traditional jacquard weaving technique.

The Movement Runs for a Long Time with Little Deviation
The caseback of the Black Bay GMT is massive and solid. The metal caseback’s sturdiness is praiseworthy, but its opacity lamentably conceals new manufacture Caliber MT5652. This caliber has a skeletonized rotor, but its bridges and plates have been kept simple, thus preserving the stylistic characteristics of Tudor’s previous manufacture movements, which were designed and built to prioritize robustness, durability and reliability. The large balance with variable moment of inertia is held firmly in place under a bridge rather than a cock. This greater stability, along with an antimagnetic silicon hairspring, helps Caliber MT5652 achieve chronometer status. Thanks to its approximately 70-hour power reserve, this watch won’t need winding or resetting on Monday morning after having been left unworn all weekend. By comparison, ETA Caliber 2893, which is frequently used in GMT models, offers only 42 hours of power autonomy. The Black Bay GMT gains less than 1 second per day when fully wound and worn on the wrist, but it deviates from correct timekeeping by 3 or 4 seconds a day after 42 consecutive hours without a fresh transfusion of energy.

Tudor Black Bay GMT with straps
The Black Bay GMT can be worn on interchangeable wristbands: a solid stainless-steel bracelet, a leather strap or a textile fabric strap.

The Tudor Black Bay GMT, with the high-quality features of its new manufacture caliber, and also with regard to its other virtues such as legibility, value, user friendliness and wearing comfort, is, therefore, unrivaled in its price class.

SPECS:
Manufacturer: Montres Tudor SA, Rue François-Dussaud 3-7, 1211, Geneva 26, Switzerland
Reference number: 79830RB
Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds; date display is synchronized with the hour hand, which can be reset in hourly increments to show the time in a new zone; 24-hour hand, 24-hour rotatable bezel
Movement: Manufacture Caliber MT5652, automatic, COSC-certified, 28,800 vph, 28 jewels, silicon hairspring, Incabloc shock absorption, fine adjustment using screws along the rim of the balance, approximately 70-hour power reserve, diameter = 31.8 mm, height = 7.52 mm
Case: Stainless steel, curved sapphire crystal above the dial, solid caseback, water resistant to 200 meters
Strap and cla­­sp: Stainless steel, integrated, one-sided stainless-steel deployant clasp with safety catch and length-adjustment mechanism
Rate results (deviation in seconds per 24 hours, fully wound/after 24 hours):
On the wrist +0.6
Dial up +4.4 / +4.9
Dial down +1.2 / +1.8
Crown up +0.1 / +1.5
Crown down +0.0 / +0.3
Crown left -1.5 / +1.8
Greatest deviation 5.9 / 4.6
Average deviation +0.8 / +2.1
Average amplitude:
Flat positions 279° / 266°
Hanging positions 253° / 227°
Variations: With leather strap or textile fabric strap ($3,625)
Dimensions: Diameter = 40.96 mm, height = 14.52 mm, weight = 188 grams
Price: $3,950

This review originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of WatchTime. Original photos are by Olaf Köster.

13 Responses to “Well Traveled Companion: Reviewing the Tudor Black Bay GMT”

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  1. Love the Tudor GMT. My brother, while traveling overseas was able to snag it up when it first came out mid 2019. Love the look and feel of the watch as I think it wears perfectly on my 6.75“ wrist (using micro adjustment). In early 2020, I dealt with the date jump issue and sent to Tudor and got it fixed (no issue since then.. Knock on wood). Unfortunately, I didn’t buy thru AD in my home town and was charged by another AD for shipping fees (whack). Overall, great watch and would recommend as daily wear since it doesn’t break the bank.

    Reply
  2. My new gmt stopped working after 1.5 months. Whole movement needed to be replaced. A touch disappointing that in 4 months of ownership that I’ll only have it working for 6 weeks.

    Reply
  3. Loved the write up which is spot on. Wanted to comment more towards the remarks for potential future buyers of the Tudor GMT. I have worn mine every day since buying it 6 months ago from an AD in the DC area. It is gorgeous and built like a tank. I even bought the leather strap as a change up. The time keeping is phenomenal as is the power reserve. As to the size, it is a big watch and lets you know you are wearing a big watch. I suggest trying it on before buying. You can get a feel for the watch. If you buy it online, that’s on you. As for comments on water resistance, it’s rated for 200M, how far down do you want to go?
    As for date wheel issue, there are enough write ups that say the issue has been resolved but outliers do occur.
    Final thought, I wanted a watch that looks fantastic and not everyone has. You cannot go wrong with this timepiece.

    Reply
  4. Danny Simenauer

    The Tudor GMT is nice. For roughly the same price I bought a new, never worn, Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime. You can see the time anywhere in the world, and it has a 70 hour time reserve. And the Unitime is available with immediate delivery!

    Reply
  5. Sam Chen

    Even at + – 0 seconds a day, the case height is still makes the watch unwearable

    Reply
  6. Peter Hernandez

    Nice looking. However, just the fact that it’s gonna be worn by many of us as a traveling, casual dress tool watch, says that it’s gonna need to be robust in several ways. I would have liked to have seen more aggressive bezel gripping surfaces. You CAN design that element nicely and still be not too obtrusive. Also, would have liked to see the date wheel with black background. And a nicely designed crown guard that would ADD a little bit of a design element would also make the watch more interesting and enjoyable to look at instead of a boring ubiquitous experience. Lastly, gents these days are more impressed with a deeper water resistant depth rating, even if just a few additional meters.
    But, all in all, not a bad looking, although pedestrian looking watch.

    Reply
  7. Hi Martina Richter,
    I wanted to commend you on a create article covering the Tudor Black Bay GMT MT5652. I just purchase my first Tudor GMT and your article reaffirmed me that I made a great selection for the long haul. Although I am not a diver but love the water which this watch will be a steady companion on my outing. Kudos and keep up the great reporting and analysis you do. Sorry I waited several months to read your article. I really enjoy the in dept and on target reviews that help us novice make educated decisions and watch investment.

    Don D.
    Washington, DC

    Reply
  8. Mel Spavetta

    Nice watch. Too bad there are still so many reported issues with the date wheel.

    Reply
  9. Mohamed A L Kanoo

    My son gifted me one on my birthday and I used it daily as it was the perfect size, weight and functionality. Sadly the dates started sticking and eventually stopped working. Taking the watch to the dealer, the watch was out of warranty and they could not begin to assess or even estimate the cost to fix. So, now it sleeps in the back of my safe and I use a Titanium case/bracelet Steinhart GMT. The end.

    Reply
  10. This is truly a gorgeous watch, but it seats awkwardly on the wrist, as it is definitely too thick an too tall. So on the wrist, it is not a comfortable watch to wear for a long time; for that reason I personally opted for the grand Seiko GMT which has the exact same ‘True GMT’ functionality, while being a few millimeters less thick, with a perfect 39mm case size. I have two Tudor’s, but the GMT I passed on.

    Reply
  11. Sean Mitchell

    No mention of the quality issues plaguing this watch? I just got mine back after a 4 month in-warranty repair. Yes, it was still under warranty, so it didn’t cost me anything. But, I now worry about future problems when the warranty expires.

    Reply
  12. Monico Rabara

    Hello Ms Martina Richter,

    Good afternoon!

    Thank You for this nice write-up about the TUDOR BLACK BAY GMT.

    May I also request Your kind indulgence to have a write-up about the
    TUDOR PELAGOS BLUE TITANIUM.

    It will truly be appreciated.

    God’s blessings be.

    Reply
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