Two of the watch world’s heavyweights have pooled their expertise to develop one of Baselworld 2017’s most buzzed-about new releases. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph adds a new, sporty complication to the popular Black Bay collection, and does so with the aid of a new movement sourced not from big brother Rolex but from stopwatch specialist Breitling.
Outwardly, the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph boasts all of the vintage-inspired features that Black Bay fans have most likely come to expect, plus some intriguing extras: the hallmark “Snowflake” hands, the domed dial and crystal, the large winding crown from the 1958 Tudor “Big Crown” dive watch. As it does on other Black Bay models, an engraved, black lacquered Tudor rose emblem appears on the case’s screw-down crown, here flanked by chronograph push-pieces. These characteristic elements are joined by two hollowed-out subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock for the 45-minute chronograph counter and running seconds indication, respectively, and a date window at 6 o’clock. The 41-mm, 200-meter water-resistant stainless steel case is topped by a fixed, circular satin-brushed bezel with an engraved tachymeter scale. The chronograph pushers are said to have been inspired by those used on early Tudor chronograph watches.
The real intrigue, for watch aficionados, lies on the inside of the timepiece: the high-performance Caliber MT5813 movement, based on Breitling’s automatic, integrated-chronograph Caliber B01. Introduced in 2009, on the occasion of Breitling’s 125th anniversary, as its in-house base movement of the future, Caliber B01 and its various descendants have served ably in many Breitling watch models since. The recent collaborative effort by the two brands — under a veil of secrecy right up until the eve of Baselworld — has yielded a two-fold result thus far. Tudor gets the B01 Caliber on which to build its first “independent” chronograph movement, while Breitling in turn acquires the use of Tudor’s own in-house base movement, Caliber MT5612, for its Superocean Heritage II model, which we will cover separately.
The good news for prospective owners of the Black Bay Chronograph is that the renamed (and revamped) Tudor Caliber MT5813 brings to the table all the considerable attributes of the B01: bidirectional winding, a column-wheel controlled chronograph mechanism with a vertical clutch, a 70-hour power reserve in a single mainspring barrel, a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, a speedy 28,800-vph frequency, and a COSC chronometer certification.
The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph is available with either a brown leather strap or a steel bracelet whose design is inspired by the folding riveted bracelets on Tudor watches produced in the 1950s and 1960s. The visible rivet heads on the side of the bracelet for attaching the links, and the distinctive, stepped construction are nods to these bracelets of the past. Both versions of the watch also come with a special blue denim-style fabric strap, made specially for Tudor’s Heritage watches on 19th-century Jacquard looms by a 150-year-old family company based in Switzerland’s Saint-Etienne region. Tudor says that the watches will be available in July; prices are $4,725 on the leather strap and $5,050 on the bracelet.