Those who have followed Tudor in recent years have undoubtedly recognized that the Rolex-owned brand has forged a solid identity of its own, at times even venturing outside its parent’s corporate umbrella to work with other watch-industry partners, the most notable instance being its collaboration with Breitling to develop the caliber for 2017’s Black Bay Chronograph. For its latest, and largely unexpected timepiece, the Black Bay Ceramic, Tudor not only presents its first watch in an all-matte-black ceramic case, but also the first whose movement has been certified by the independent Swiss Institute of Metrology (METAS) as a Master Chronometer — a designation up until now used exclusively by Rolex arch-competitor Omega.
On the surface, the new watch is a sporty and logical extension of the popular Black Bay series of dive watches, with a 41-mm monobloc case made of micro-blasted black ceramic; a unidirectional, rotatable bezel in matching black PVD-treated steel with an engraved, 60-minute graduated dive scale on a ceramic insert; and a black PVD screw-down crown with the Tudor rose emblem helping to ensure a water resistance of 200 meters. The monochromatic theme continues on the black, domed dial with the geometric markers and “snowflake” hands, both luminous-coated, which are hallmarks of the Black Bay series. Subtle touches added to this new model include the case’s mirror-polished beveled edges and the sunray satin finish on the black ceramic bezel insert.
The most substantial changes distinguishing the Black Bay Ceramic from its predecessors are inside, on the self-winding manufacture Caliber MT5602-1U, which for the first time in Tudor’s relatively short history of making its own movements, is not only chronometer-certified by the Swiss agency COSC but also stamped as a Master Chronometer by METAS. The latter certification entered the watch industry in 2015 (coincidentally or no, the same year that Tudor debuted its first in-house movement in the North Flag model), first applied to the Caliber 8900 in Omega’s Globemaster and subsequently used, exclusively by that brand, throughout Omega’s product line of calibers and timepieces in the years since.
The criteria for a Master Chronometer certification are more extensive than those for a COSC certificate, and include the following: the movement’s function during exposure to a magnetic field of 15,000 gauss; deviation of the watch’s running time in six positions; deviation of the running time between 0 and 2/3 of its power reserve; function during exposure to a magnetic field of 15,000 gauss; deviation of the average daily precision after exposure to a magnetic field of 15,000 gauss; average daily precision in tests replicating daily wearing conditions (six positions, two temperatures); power reserve and water resistance. Ultimately, the watch is required to perform within a tolerance of 0 to +5 seconds per day during and after exposure to the 15,000 gauss magnetic field to receive the Master Chronometer designation.
Aesthetically, Caliber MT5602-1U also echoes the all-black color theme of the case and dial, with its black tungsten rotor graced with satin-brushed and sand-blasted details, and its bridges and mainplate entirely finished in black with alternating sandblasted and polished surfaces and laser decorations. It has a variable inertia balance maintained by a single traversing bridge fixed at two points, an antimagnetic silicon hairspring, and a “weekend-proof” power reserve of 70 hours. The Black Bay Ceramic comes on a hybrid leather-and-rubber strap that features the “snowflake” motif on its interior surface and closes with a folding clasp; Tudor also includes an additional black fabric strap with a sporty, cream-colored center stripe. It is priced in the U.S. at $4,725.