Tudor Makes a Watch for the Die-Hard Vintage Collector
People who collect vintage watches love vintage watches. And, usually, they want modern watches to be more like vintage watches. With the strangely named Heritage Black Bay "Black," Tudor is giving all those fans exactly what they've been clamoring for.
A little history helps this watch make a lot more sense. The first Tudor Submariner dive watch hit wrists in 1954 and had a lot in common with early Rolex dive watches of the same era. Over the next three decades, Tudor made a series of Submariner dive watches in various colors with differing design details. In 2012, Tudor introduced the Heritage Black Bay, a modern dive watch that pays homage to the military Submariners of the 1970s with snowflake-style hands, gold dial printing, and a subdued red bezel (inspired by a faded model in the company archive).
This even newer version starts with the same 41mm stainless steel case, still displays just the hours, minutes, and seconds, and is still meant to be an everyday watch that can take a beating. It's the colors that are unique, and that's a bigger deal than you might think. The dial is a deep black with a gilt chapter ring marking the minutes at the outer edge. The same gold tint is used for the vintage-style Tudor logo and other info at the dial's center. The hands and borders of the hour markers are gold with a creamy luminous fill. The bezel is matte black and has a small red triangle around the glowing pearl at 12 o'clock. The all-black color scheme with the gold printing is a direct homage to that 1954 Submariner, down to that little red triangle. In fact, the triangle's probably the most important detail here: It's an historic quirk that's unnoticeable to most but tells the hard-core collectors that Tudor made this watch just for them.
The Black Bay "Black" looks pretty similar to a one-of-a-kind Black Bay One being offered in this November's Only Watch charity auction. The latter watch looks even more like the first Tudor Submariner, with pencil-shaped hour and minute hands, a lollipop seconds hand, and minimal bezel markings. But at a casual glance it's easy to confuse that special charity watch with the "Black" market watch Tudor announced this week. It will be interesting to see if this negatively affects the sale price of the Black Bay One, since you can now get something very similar for a lot less money. A die-hard collector will still likely pay top dollar for the unique watch, but there's now an option for the rest of us, too.
In case you forgot, Tudor is also the sister brand of Rolex. The little sister. Because Tudor has a more laid-back vibe and doesn't have the same totemic status to uphold, it can experiment a little more than Rolex. The big question is whether this experimentation will flow upstream eventually. Will we be seeing a vintage-inspired Submariner or a new Daytona that resembles the chronographs of the '70s? I think short term the answer is probably no, but one can always dream.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay "Black" comes on either an aged black leather strap ($3,100) or a stainless steel bracelet ($3,425), both of which come with a black fabric strap, too. It will be available at Tudor retailers starting on Oct. 15.
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