Up Close with the Tudor Black Bay P01 [Updated with 1968 Patent]

A mythical watch made real.

The Tudor Black Bay P01 is a peculiar watch, and the response to it on social media has been lukewarm. But I like, enough to actually buy one when it arrives.

Watches that go far off the beaten track, like the Black Bay P01, are usually the province of Kickstarter brands and the like. Establishment names rarely do anything bizarre.

Tudor, however, went one better. It has reproduced an outlandish watch often regarded as a fictitious. Crucially, the P01 has historical legitimacy – as well as a sense of humour.

The long road to glory

The story begins in 1967, when Tudor developed prototypes for a US navy tender that called for a diver’s watch with a bidirectional, 12-hour bezel that could be removed for cleaning. The concept was essentially a beefed up Submariner with hinged end-links to lock the rotating bezel. Swiss patent no. 490706 was filed in July 1968 for the idea, and granted in 1970.

Internally the project was codenamed “Commando”, and resulted in four watches – the watchmaker kept two and sent the other two to the navy, which rejected the idea and went with another watch brand instead.

Tudor P01 commando prototype

The prototype with original technical drawings for project “Commando”. Photo – Tudor

Tudor P01 Rolex patent C490706

Swiss patent no. 490706 filed in July 1968 for “Commando”. Source- Tudor

Tudor P01 Rolex patent C490706 diagram

The diagrams for patent 490706. Source- Tudor

The story takes a detour here, for some enterprising souls in the 1990s, relying on the patents filed by Rolex for project “Commando”, created ostensible prototype watches, mostly branded as “Rolex” instead of Tudor, that appeared at various auctions. One sold at Antiquorum in 2004 for 124,500 Swiss francs.

Now Tudor has recreated an original, based on one of the prototypes retained in its archives, the real deal, in other words. That’s amusing, slightly self-deprecating, and appealing.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch

The “prototype 1”

Short for “prototype 1”, the P01 is generally faithful to the original, both in look and feel, albeit with several improvements and tweaks.

The case is 42mm in diameter, larger than the 40mm original, and also very long. That is the only flaw of the watch; the case length makes it too large to be practical, but such a watch is surely not designed to be discreetly wearable.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 10

Like the original, the bezel is scaled for 12 hours and bi-directional, with a pivoting end-link at 12 o’clock that locks the bezel; the lower end-link on the P01 is fixed.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 5

Though it is functionally similar to the original (which had two hinged end-links on both ends of the case), the internal design of the hinged end-link is completely different according to Tudor, having been redesigned to operate more smoothly and easily.

Like the rest of the Black Bay range, the P01 has “snowflake” hands. But unlike its siblings in the line-up, the P01 has hour markers printed on the dial, instead of having applied hour markers filled with “lume”. A minor detail but one that adds to the vintage prototype feel.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 2

Tangible prototype vibes

Despite the nips and tucks in the design and construction, the P01 still manages to retain the spirit of the prototype thanks to clever detailing.

The case is entirely brushed with a pronounced linear grain, with sharp, 90-degree edges instead of the bevels that characterise all other Black Bay watches. And the crown guards are chunky and seemingly roughly hewn.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 9

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 1

Add to that a domed sapphire crystal that is sufficiently curved to slightly distort the edges of the dial, and the result is a watch that is heavily reminiscent of the prototype, despite being a thoroughly modern watch.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 3

The Black Bay P01 is powered by the MT5612, one of Tudor’s “manufacture” movements. Like the rest of Tudor’s proprietary calibres, the MT5612 is impressively spec’ed for a watch that costs relatively little.

It has a 70-hour power reserve, free-sprung balance wheel, silicon hairspring and COSC-certification. And the date function can be set at any time of the day, unlike most movements that cannot be set around midnight when the date is unchanging.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 8

In a first for Tudor, the strap on the P01 is a “hybrid leather and rubber” creation. It’s essentially a rubber strap covered with a top leather of brown calfskin.

While eminently practical, being water-resistant, the hybrid strap doesn’t quite fit the watch and is the only thing I would change about it. A retro “tropic” style strap or even a retro-fitted Oyster bracelet would work better.

The strap is affixed to a steel end-link, meaning it is can be swiftly swapped. Notably, the end-link itself is also attached by a short spring bar, so it probably can be removed as well.

Tudor Black Bay P01 watch 7

Concluding thoughts

The Black Bay P01 is an unusual, fun and well conceived watch that is surprisingly affordable. In fact, it is strikingly good value for an offbeat watch. It costs 3750 Swiss francs, which is 100 francs less than the Black Bay Bronze.

Tudor Black Bay P01 original prototype

The original (left) and the Black Bay P01. Photo – Tudor

Price and availability

The Tudor Black Bay P01 (ref. 70150) is priced at 3750 Swiss francs, and will reach stores in July 2019.

Update March 29, 2019: Included Swiss patent no. 490706 of 1968.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Tudor (Re)Introduces the Black Bay Bronze

Now with a graduated slate grey dial.

Well loved for its design and eminent affordability, the Tudor Black Bay Bronze was first introduced three years ago with a brown dial (and later the special edition Bucherer version).

Now the original Black Bay Bronze has been replaced with a new version that has a graduated slate grey dial, but is otherwise identical.

The new dial is a “shaded slate grey”, but subtly executed. Unlike most other dégradé or graduated dials, the colouring here is less pronounced. The centre is a lighter shade of grey that darkens to almost black around the edges. It’s matched with a dark grey, almost black, bezel.

Compared to the earlier version in brown, the new Black Bay Bronze is more wearable, being a more neutral colour. From a distance it is essentially black, and restrained in style despite the size.

Tudor Black Bay bronze slate grey 3

Everything else remains unchanged, including the 43mm case that’s made with an aluminium-bronze alloy. It’ll acquire a brownish patina over time, instead of the green verdigris of copper-based bronze alloys that are more common in watchmaking.

And the movement is still the MT5601, a COSC-certified automatic with a 70-hour power reserve and a silicon hairspring.

Tudor mt5601 movement

The new Black Bay Bronze is available either with a fabric NATO-style strap or a black nubuck strap.

Tudor Black Bay bronze slate grey 2

And naturally the price remains unchanged.

Price and availability

The new Black Bay Bronze (ref. 79250BA) is priced at 3850 Swiss francs, and will be available starting April 2019.



Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Bulgari Introduces the Octo Finissimo Ceramic Automatic and Skeleton

Sleekly all-black.

Bulgari’s ultra-thin Octo Finissimo is now available in matte black ceramic, in both time-only and skeleton versions, giving the well regarded wristwatch a sleek new look. The two additions to the line join the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT that was also just unveiled at Baselworld 2019.

Both watch share the same fundamental features: a case and bracelet in smooth, sandblasted black ceramic. Notably, both also have a ceramic folding clasp that is recessed into the reverse of the bracelet, instead of the usual metal alloy clasp found on most ceramic bracelets.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ceramic black

The pair are both 5.5mm high, despite using slightly different movements.

The Octo Finissimo Automatic Ceramic is powered by the BVL 138 movement, a self-winding calibre just 2.23mm high.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Ceramic black 1

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Ceramic black 3

It has a platinum micro-rotor and 60-hour power reserve. All the bridges are finished in silvery rhodium-plating.

Case material aside, it is essentially identical to the titanium and gold versions of the same watch.

The Octo Finissimo Skeleton Ceramic, on the other hand, is equipped with the BVL 128SK movement.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Ceramic black 3

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Ceramic black 4

It’s derived from the automatic above, but is instead manually wound, and also has the addition of a power reserve display at nine o’clock.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Ceramic black 2

The open-worked base plate is finished with circular brushing on the front, while the bridges on the back are sandblasted for a frosted finish. Both have a dark grey plating.

Price and availability

Prices for both the Octo Finissimo Automatic Ceramic  (ref. 103077) is priced at US$15,600, and the Octo Finissimo Skeleton Ceramic (ref. 103126) is US$24,700.

Update March 22, 2019: Prices included.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Explaining the Citizen Caliber 0100 – The Most Accurate Watch Ever

Just one second a year.

The Citizen Caliber 0100 is a remarkable accomplishment – it is the most accurate wristwatch ever, able to keep time to within one second a year.

The Caliber 0100 is essentially a solar-powered quartz movement, but that’s like saying the Bugatti Chiron is basically two-seater car. It’s a watch that has been refined and improved to the nth degree.

Triple innovation

In order to keep time to ±1 second a year, the Caliber 0100 combines several innovations.

Firstly, the very foundation of the quartz movement has been drastically improved. Quartz movements rely on an electric current passing through a quartz crystal, making the crystal vibrate at a high frequency. The vibration of the crystal oscillator is what keeps the beat of the movement.

The crystal oscillator inside the Caliber 0100 movement has an AT cut. This is the most common type of cut for high frequency crystal oscillators, but not found in any modern day quartz movement. Though in the 1970s and 1980s, a handful of ultra high-end quartz watches, including some produced by Citizen and Omega, did use AT cut crystals.

Today’s quartz watches all rely on tuning fork, or XY, cut crystals. Tuning fork cut crystals are the predominant cut type for low frequency applications.

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-6

Because an AT cut oscillator can operate at far higher frequencies – more than 100 times the frequency of a tuning fork cut oscillator – it is more stable and thus more accurate. Its high frequency makes an AT cut oscillator less susceptible to environmental factors like temperature, gravity, or even simple aging over time.

The AT cut oscillator is more stable in the face of gravitational influences due to movement or arm position, due to its shape. That contrasts with a tuning fork cut oscillator that has twin prongs that vibrate freely, which means changes in position can lead to miniscule errors.

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-2

But just to be doubly sure, only specially selected AT cut oscillators are selected for the Caliber 0100. The quartz oscillators are artificially aged with temperature test that evaluates twice the number of steps as compared to the test for a standard quartz crystal. According to Citizen, the testing methodology itself was improved such that there was a 10-times increase in the precision of the test.

The stability of operating frequency is then measured, with only the oscillators that show minimal frequency variations cleared for use in the Caliber 0100.

But AT cut oscillators consume significantly more energy than tuning fork cut oscillators – obvious since they vibrate at far higher frequencies – making them impractical for a wristwatch, which has a small, limited power supply.

By optimising every aspect of the watch movement, from materials to power saving electronics, Citizen’s engineers managed to make the Caliber 0100 efficient enough to be practical.

For instance, the LIGA etching technique was used to produce the nickel-phosphorous springs and wheels, ensuring they have perfect geometric and tolerances, and function with zero play.

On a full solar charge, the Caliber 0100 will run for six months (and on power-saving mode it’ll go eight months).

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-9

The accuracy of the Caliber 0100, however, goes beyond just the fancy quartz crystal. The integrated circuit inside the movement regulates its own timekeeping by monitoring both ambient temperature.

Because the frequency deviations that result from temperature are known, having been tested during assembly, the IC automatically corrects the frequency of the oscillator in response to temperate fluctuations. In short, the movement adjusts itself if necessary – and does so every minute.

Moreover, the Caliber 0100 has been constructed to operate optimally in temperatures ranging from 5°C to 40°C.

Lastly, the Caliber 0100 also corrects itself physically in a two-step process. One is a “shock counteraction function” that locks the canon pinion of the hands in the event of an impact, and the other a monitor system that regularly checks the positions of the hands and then automatically corrects it should they be displaced.

Fuss-free style

The styling of the Caliber 0100 watch exemplifies Japanese minimalism. Though the overall design is resolutely clean, it boasts subtle nuances and polished details that give it a sophisticated feel.

Citizen Caliber 0100 titanium limited edition 6

The dial is slightly bowled shaped, matched with a seconds hand that is extra-long and curved downwards, meaning the hashmarks for the seconds and tip of the seconds hand almost meet each other.

All of the hour markers are alternately brushed and mirror-polished, and faceted lengthwise.

Citizen Caliber 0100 titanium limited edition 3

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-5

But the refinement of the aesthetics goes beyond the static elements. The motion of the seconds hand was also the result of significant thought.

The mechanics that drive the seconds hand were conceived to have minimum backlash or play, so that the seconds hand ticks in resolute steps. A specially developed gear assembly that incorporates a spring is linked directly to the seconds hand, keeping a constant tension in the seconds wheel, ensuring there is no backlash.

And the gearing for the hands allows for both backwards and forwards motion, allowing the hands to travel in the quickest direction when the watch is awoken from power-saving mode.

Notably, the hands are brass and substantial in size, unlike ordinary quartz watches that have to make do with slender hands due to the lack of driving torque in conventional quartz movements. But the Caliber 0100 was constructed with a high torque motor, allowing it to be equipped with comparatively large hands.

All of the effort put into the movement means the Caliber 0100 is worthy of a display back, making it one of the rare handful of Citizen watches with an open back.

That reveals the movement, which has its brass bridges plated in black ruthenium and decorated with a linear striping.

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-7

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-8

Master craftsmen assembly

The Caliber 0100 is assembled at Citizen’s facility in Nagano, where all of the brand’s top of the line watches, including the Campanola, are put together.

“Meisters”, a class of craftsmen bestowed the title by the Japanese government, are responsible for assembling the Caliber 0100 by hand. That includes ensuring the seconds hand lines up perfectly with every single one of the 60 hashmarks on the track around the dial.

Citizen Caliber 0100 titanium limited edition 4

The watch

The Caliber 0100 watch is available in three iterations, though all share the same basic design and features. Most notably, when the watch is in the dark for a prolonged period of time, it enters power-save mode; the hands freeze while the movement continues to measure the time.

Compact and easily wearable, the case is 37.5mm in diameter and 9.1mm high. The Caliber 0100 watch case was inspired by the facets of a crystal, explaining the facets in the lugs as well as the crystal-shaped crown. It has a water-resistance rating of 50m.

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-4

The top of the line model is the Caliber 0100 in 18k white gold, matched with an ivory-tone dial. This is limited to only 100 watches.

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-1

Citizen Caliber 0100 white gold AQ6010-06A-3

And the more affordable Caliber 0100 is in Super Titanium, which is titanium coated with Duratect α, an improved version of Citizen’s proprietary surface hardening technology that boosts the scratch-resistance of the alloy significantly.

Super Titanium has a surface hardness of 2000Hv on the Vickers hardness scale, compared to 1000Hv for conventional Duratect and just 200Hv for stainless steel.

Citizen Caliber 0100 titanium limited edition 1

Citizen Caliber 0100 titanium limited edition 5

The titanium Caliber 0100 is offered with either a black dial covered in tiny apertures that resemble a microscopic honeycomb, or an iridescent dark mother of pearl dial.

Both versions of the Super Titanium Caliber 0100 are matched with a supple “beads of rice” titanium bracelet.

Citizen Caliber 0100 titanium limited edition 2

Price and availability

Sold in Japan as part of The Citizen collection, a top of the line time-only range of watches, the Caliber 0100 will be sold internationally under the general Citizen label.

The Caliber 0100 in 18k white gold (ref. AQ6010-06A) is a limited edition of 100 pieces, priced at US$16,800. It will arrive in stores in the third quarter of 2019.

The Caliber 0100 in titanium with a black dial (ref. AQ6021-51E) is limited to 500 pieces, while the same with a mother of pearl dial (ref. AQ6020-53X) is limited to 200 pieces. Both will also be available in the third quarter of 2019, priced at US$7400.

Correction March 21, 2019: The Citizen Caliber 0100 is not the first instance of an AT cut crystal in a wristwatch, as stated in an earlier version of the article. AT cut crystals were found in a small number of quartz watches in the 1970s and 1980s.

Update March 22, 2019: Added more information on how the IC and monitors adjusts the oscillator’s frequency.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Bell & Ross Introduces the BR03-92 MA-1

Inspired by the classic military jacket.

Bell & Ross ventures beyond the cockpit, but stays within military aviation, with the BR03-92 MA-1. The watch borrows from the colours of the MA-1 flight jacket developed by defence contractor Dobbs Industries for U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots in the late 1950s.

The design of the jacket was rooted in battle-ready functionality. A khaki green nylon shell and a quilted lining made it lightweight but warm. More importantly, the neon orange lining was conceived for downed airmen – turning the jacket inside out turned it into a signal flag signal.

Bell & Ross BR03-92 MA-1_2

The BR03-92 MA-1 is a literal translation from cloth to metal.

Measuring 42 by 42mm in diameter, the case is matte, khaki-green ceramic held together like a sandwich with four screws. The screw slots are all perfectly aligned at a 45-degree angle as they are actually nuts secured by screws visible on the case back.

Bell & Ross BR03-92 MA-1_4

It’s matched with a “sandwich” dial that has hour markers being cut-outs on the upper dial. Beneath it is a lower dial plate covered in bright orange Super-Luminova. However, the added colour pigment to the Super-Luminova (which is pale green or white in its purer form) reduces the intensity and duration of the night-time glow.

Bell & Ross BR03-92 MA-1_3

As with all watches in the BR03-92 line, it is powered by the BR-CAL.302, which is actually the workhorse Sellita SW300. It’s an automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve.

The BR03-92 MA-1 is fitted to a khaki green leather strap that is not only lined with orange but like the jacket, also reversible.

Price and Availability

The Bell & Ross BR03-92 MA-1 (ref. BR0392-KAO-CE/SCA) is priced at US$3900, or 5700 Singapore dollars. It’ll be available starting June 2019.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Sinn Introduces the 206 Arktis II

The sub-zero tool watch returns.

The Sinn 203 Arktis of 1999 came along before “tool” watches were a big thing. And it was unusual, a diver’s chronograph designed to operate in sub-zero temperatures, specifically from –45°C to +80°C.

Now for the 20th anniversary of the original (which was discontinued in 2013), Sinn has revived it as the 206 Arktis II, much like how the EZM 1 was reproduced last year.

The remake remains stainless steel but is larger than the original, with a 43mm diameter instead of 41mm, but the looks and functionality are unchanged.

It remains rated to 300m, and though the pushers resemble screw-down pushers, they are not. Instead they are water-resistant thanks to a proprietary sealing construction, and the screw-down appearance is merely a nod to the original.

Sinn 206 Arktis II 3

Thanks to special lubricates designed to operate in extreme temperatures, the movement functions in both extreme cold and extreme heat. In addition, the case is filled with inert nitrogen case, which helps prevent moisture from building up inside. That explains the red “Ar” logo on the dial; an earlier version of the technology used argon instead of nitrogen.

Visually the watch is almost identical to the original as well. That includes most distinctive element of the first Arktis chronograph: the electroplated, bright metallic blue dial with a radial sunburst finish.

Sinn 206 Arktis II 2

And the Valjoux 7750 inside is visible through the sapphire back, whereas the original had a solid back.

Sinn 206 Arktis II 4

In fact, Sinn is not only reissuing the original Arktis, but also its sibling, the 203 diver’s chronograph, as the 206 St AR that has a similarly larger case.

Sinn 206 Arktis II 5

The 206 St AR (left) and 206 Arktis II

Price and availability

The 206 Arktis II is priced at €3490 on either a leather or rubber strap, and €3660 on a steel bracelet. Prices include 19% German VAT.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.