Tudor’s very first bronze dive watch starts out new already looking worn, intentionally so. Many elements of the Black Bay Bronze (ref. 79250BM), like the brown bezel that seems faded and the “snowflake” hands, are derived from vintage Tudor Submariners but only loosely, with lots of creative license since there was no vintage Tudor with a maroon dial or bezel. The result is a watch that’s a mishmash of vintage Tudor dive watches plus a healthy dose of creativity, but one that looks pleasingly congruent.
The Black Bay Bronze is 43 mm in diameter, a significant two millimetres larger than the steel Black Bay, yet the increase in size is almost imperceptible, perhaps due to the colours of the watch. Despite being larger it wears just the same as the ordinary Black Bay, with the same feel. That’s not surprising while bronze is denser than steel, the difference is not sufficient to be noticeable in a watch case. Interestingly, Tudor opted not to use a bronze alloy similar to those used by Panerai and the like. Most bronze alloys – a mix of mostly copper, with a bit of tin and other metals – used in watches will develop a greenish patina, resulting in an aged look that can resemble sunken treasure from Ancient Greece. Tudor’s particular bronze alloy, however, includes aluminium, which means the case will develop a brown patina over time.
That explains the brown shade of the dial and bezel, a colour selected to match the future case patina. With Arabic numerals at the quarters, a so-called “Explorer” dial after the Rolex model with this look, the dial differs from other Black Bay watches that have the conventional Submariner dial. But the Explorer dial works well, suiting the vintage-y look of the watch well.
While the case will change in colour over time, the bronze-coloured case back remains unchanging. Like all other bronze watches, the Black Bay Bronze does not have a bronze case back since the metal tends to cause skin allergies and stains. Instead the case back is stainless steel with a coating applied via physical vapour deposition (PVD) that gives it a bronze colour.
Engraved around the case back is “Manufacture Calibre MT5601”, indicating the Black Bay Bronze is powered by Tudor’s very own in-house automatic movement. The calibre first made its debut last year in the North Flag and second generation Pelagos, and is now found in the Black Bay Bronze with a bigger base plate (to fit the larger case) and sans date display. That aside the movement is identical, with a convenient 70-hour power reserve and non-magnetic silicon hairspring. And like all of Tudor’s in-house movements, the MT5601 is a COSC-certified chronometer, a fact helpfully spelt out on the dial.
Pricing and availability
The Black Bay Bronze is sold with an distressed leather strap, or a canvas band inspired by the straps made from parachute webbing by the navy divers of the French Marine Nationale for their Tudor Submariners in the 1970s. Both versions have a price tag of US$3975 or SFr3800, with availability starting May 2016.
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