Hands-On: Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One “Only Watch”

The only ceramic diver (so far).
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Tudor is taking part in Only Watch for the third time, but the watchmaker has arguably created its most unique timepiece to date for the biennial charity auction. While Tudor’s earlier Only Watch were variants of existing models, first the Heritage Black Bay One and then the Black Bay Bronze One, the Black Bay Ceramic One is wholly different from all current (and past) watches, it is a piece unique.

Announced just a few weeks before the similarly all-black Black Bay Chrono Dark limited edition, the Black Bay Ceramic One is essentially Tudor’s signature dive watch, but with a black ceramic case. Though Tudor does have ceramic watches in the line-up, namely the usually forgotten Fastrider Black Shield, the material has not been used for the bestselling Black Bay, until now.

Though the watch is entirely unique, the look is a fairly common one – all-black, everywhere. Though the look is neither novel nor unique, it’s an attractive one, especially for a dive watch like this.

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The dial is done in different textures and shades of black for legibility. So the markings on the dial are printed in glossy black lacquer to distinguish them from the matte black dial surface. And the Super-Luminova is also black, or more specifically standard Super-Luminova with pigments added for colour, which diminishes the green night-time glow substantially. While that’s not a practical look for an actual dive watch, it is a cool look for a “desk diver”.

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The bezel continues the shades-of-black colour scheme: the bezel itself is black-coated titanium, while the bezel insert is black ceramic. All the bezel markings are engraved on the ceramic insert, which has a radial, brushed finish. Surprisingly for a dive watch, the ceramic insert is especially refined up close; the brushed surface is finely done, as are the engravings.

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The case is identical in shape and size as that found in the standard Black Bay, with a 41mm diameter and the same lengthwise bevel along the lugs. It’s made entirely of matte black ceramic, but with a metal inner case to accommodate the screw-down back.

Because ceramic’s hard and brittle nature means the back cannot be screwed into the case, or be used for the case back, the case back is black-coated steel. It has the trademark fluted edges of the Rolex Oyster case back, and screws into the metal inner case.

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Also unusual is the sapphire window in the case back. The only other Tudor model with a display back is the North Flag, a well executed watch that looks very different from any other Tudor, but perhaps for that very reason is not a strong seller.

Though the back one can see the MT5602 movement, probably the highest spec movement – free-sprung balance with silicon hairspring, 70-hour power reserve – in Tudor’s native price range of below US$5000; at least for the standard models, the Ceramic One will finish well into six figures.

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Concluding thoughts

I love Tudor watches for being excellent value for money, but they are mostly quite chunky (with the exception of the smaller Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which is my pick of the lot).

The Ceramic One alleviates that because the dark colour makes it look significantly smaller than the identically sized, standard Black Bay in steel. And the fact that it is slightly lighter than the steel model helps, as does the fact that the Ceramic One has a “hybrid” rubber strap covered in alligator skin, similar to that on the Black Bay P01, which leaves it feeling less cumbersome.

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But all of that is a moot point since the Ceramic One will probably finish past 300,000 Swiss francs, going by results for each of the past Tudor Only Watch timepieces – the Black Bay One and Bronze One sold for 375,000 and 350,000 Swiss francs respectively.

Instead one can hope that Tudor unveils something similar eventually, which will not only be a lot of watch for a money, but also a lot more unusual than Tudor’s current classic dive watch designs.

tudor black bay bronze one only watch

The Black Bay Bronze One that sold for 350,000 francs in 2017


Key facts

Diameter: 41mm
Height: 14.8mm
Material: Black ceramic case, titanium bezel, steel back
Water-resistance: 200m

Movement: MT5602
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Winding: Automatic

Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Rubber strap with alligator top lining

Price and availability

The Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One (ref. M7921/001CN) has an estimate of 4,500-5,500 Swiss francs, and will be sold by Christie’s in Geneva on November 19. The rest of the catalogue can be seen on onlywatch.com.


 

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