A U.S. Navy Prototype Resurfaces: The Tudor Black Bay P01

Back in 1967, while it was a supplier of watches to the U.S. Navy, Tudor developed a prototype for a new, tactical divers’s watch, meeting a set of specifications set by the U.S. government, to replace the standard-issue Oyster Prince Submariner Ref. 7928. This prototype, code-named “Commando” never saw the light of day, as the Navy instead adopted the Tudor dive watch Ref. 7016 that superseded the discontinued Prince. After languishing in anonymity in Tudor’s archives for decades, the prototype’s design has inspired the new Black Bay P01 — Tudor’s most-discussed new model at Baselworld 2019.

Tudor Black Bay P01 - angle

The Black Bay P01 (the initial stands for “Prototype 1”) channels many of the unusual aspects of the original “Commando,” which was envisioned as a cross between a diving watch and a sailing watch, notably the screw-down crown’s positioning at 4 o’clock on the 42-mm satin-brushed, matte-finish steel case and the hinged end-link with rotating bezel locking system — the subject of a patent back in 1968. The modern watch borrows freely from the original design — which was actually for a removable bezel that the owner could remove to clean the watch — incorporating a stopping system for the bidirectional dive-scale bezel into a mobile link at 12 o’clock.

Tudor Black Bay P01 - side

The watch, while definitely distinctive in its martial appearance, is still recognizably a Black Bay. The domed matte black dial features the “Snowflake” hands that have been a fixture on Tudor dive watches since 1969 as well as painted luminescent hour markers for underwater legibility. The case boasts a military-grade water resistance of 200 meters.

Tudor Black Bay P01 - soldier

Inside, the Tudor manufacture Caliber MT5612 ticks at a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz), powering the three-handed time display and the rapid-reset date at 3 o’clock. A variation of the brand’s first truly in-house movement, Caliber MT5621, it boasts a 70-hour power reserve and is regulated by a variable-inertia oscillator with a silicon balance spring held in place by a traversing bridge. Caliber MT5612 (“MT” for “Manufacture Tudor” has also been chronometer-certified for timekeeping precision by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

The Tudor Black Bay P01 is mounted on a specially developed “hybrid” strap with a rubber base and a brown leather trim, connected to the case, as in the prototype’s design, by satin-brushed steel attachments. Available in July 2019, the watch (wrist shot below, taken at Baselworld) will retail for $3,950.

Tudor Black Bay P01 - wrist
2 Responses to “A U.S. Navy Prototype Resurfaces: The Tudor Black Bay P01”

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  1. Andrew Hughes

    Regardless of the naysayers, this will be a hot Tudor for collectors.

  2. James Hayes

    This has to be the ugliest watch I have ever seen. Did Tudor not show a prototype to a focus group prior to release? I cannot believe they actually allowed this into production. Huge fail for Tudor. They hit a home run with Blay Bay GMT last year, but certainly struck out with P01 this year.

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