Tudor Introduces the Black Bay GMT in Opaline Silver

"Pan Am" returns.

One of the strongest value propositions at Watches & Wonders is from an unsurprising contender, Tudor. Not entirely new but still compelling, the Black Bay GMT is a new version of the brand’s travel staple, now facelifted with a silver dial that brings to mind the mythical Rolex GMT-Master “Pan Am”.

Initial thoughts 

Since its release in 2018, the Black Bay GMT has been a crowd pleaser, and the newest variant will be as well. Its tangible features like the in-house calibre are obvious, and less apparent is the subtle historical connection.

While a silver dial on a sport watch isn’t novel, this is particularly notable for the unspoken reference to the historical Rolex GMT-Master with a white dial reputedly made for Pan American Airways.

The fact that the GMT-Master “Pan Am” is so famous yet controversial in terms of provenance  gives this Black Bay GMT an amusing and interesting historical angle.

Apart from the dial, there is no difference between this and the version with a black dial that came before. The price remains unchanged, and it still offers great value for money. 

The only criticism that I have is the same as for the earlier version: the case is chunky at 41 mm in diameter; the case is thick as well. I’m certain a more compact Tudor GMT model will arrive one day, especially with the just-launched Black Bay 54 that is 37 mm.

Opaline dial

The dial on the new Black Bay GMT retains the same dial layout with “snowflake” hands, including its lozenge-shaped seconds and time zone hands, save for the new colourway in an off-white offering (officially termed by the brand as opaline). This colour scheme is created thanks to a special galvanic finish, producing a matted white-grey look for the watch.

The new version share the same case of 41 mm in diameter and 14.6 mm high as with base models in the Black Bay divers. As standard for the Black Bay GMT lineup, the case has a bidirectional rotating bezel with an anodised aluminium insert composed of a matte blue and burgundy.

The original Black Bay GMT and its latest off-white successor.

Wearers can choose between its matching integrated bracelet or one of Tudor’s jacquard fabric straps for a stylish look. As a true GMT, the new Black Bay is powered by the in-house MT5652, an automatic movement that has integrated the second time zone hand unto to the base plate with a longer power reserve of 70 hours.

Key facts and price

Tudor Black Bay GMT “Opaline”
Ref. M79830RB-0010

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 14.6 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 mm

Movement: Cal. MT5652
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and second time zone
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet or fabric strap

Limited edition: Regular production
Now at Tudor boutiques and retailers
Price: Steel and fabric strap – CHF3,800; Steel and bracelet – CHF4,100

For more information, visit Tudorwatch.com.


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Rolex Introduces the Perpetual 1908 Refs. 52508 and 52509

Small seconds and silicon signals.

Due to its enviable position as the leading Swiss watch brand by revenue, Rolex tends to dominate headlines for even the smallest changes to its collections. So it’s even bigger news when the brand launches an entirely new collection, the Perpetual 1908, as it has on the opening day of this year’s Watches & Wonders.

Named for the year that Hans Wilsdorf registered the Rolex trademark in Switzerland, the Perpetual 1908 is a slim, time-only watch with a display back that signals a renewed focus on the dress watch category for the giant of Geneva.

Initial thoughts

The Perpetual 1908 is a worthy replacement for the outgoing Cellini collection, which to me always felt like the forgotten child of the Rolex portfolio. Forced to use movements from their sportier siblings, the Cellini watches were never able to achieve the right proportions to be taken seriously as dress watches.

The Perpetual 1908 debuts in four references in yellow and white gold, with the option of white or black satin finish dials; the black dials look especially good. The designs are atypical for Rolex, featuring a sub-seconds dial at 6 o’clock, and a new handset. “Superlative Chronometer” drapes over the sub-seconds dial, calling to mind the Rolex Veriflat of the 1950s.

Speaking of the Veriflat, the 1908 case measures just 9.5 mm thick thanks to the new cal. 7140. This is a big improvement over the Cellini watches, which were over 12 mm thick. The 1908’s dress watch credentials are bolstered further by improved movement finishing and a sapphire crystal case back – a first for the brand.

At US$22,000 in yellow gold and US$23,300 in white gold, the Perpetual 1908 offers a compelling value proposition, at least as precious metal watches go.

It’s about 13% more expensive than a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin (a watch with a similarly decorated but less advanced movement), but this is a reasonable premium given the excellence of Rolex engineering, particularly in terms of the case and movement, and of course the strength of its brand.

More broadly, there are a number of factors that have enabled Rolex to achieve the position that it has today atop the Swiss watch industry. Among those factors is its ability to set trends. It will be interesting to see how Rolex develops the 1908 Perpetual collection in coming years, and what effect this will have on demand for dress watches vis a vis sport watches, which have dominated the conversation in recent years.

The 1908 debuts with a new, double-fold clasp

Silicon vallee

The svelte proportions of the Perpetual 1908 are thanks to the cal. 7140, which combines two proprietary Rolex technologies, the Chronergy escapement and the Syloxi silicon hairspring, for the first time. The Chronergy escapement made its debut in 2015, and has slowly diffused through the rest of the collection, offering improved efficiency.

The Syloxi hairspring is actually older, having debuted almost ten years ago at Baselworld 2014, but it has not been rolled out as quickly as the Chronergy escapement. In contrast to Swatch Group, which has successfully deployed silicon hairsprings at industrial scale, Rolex has been more conservative with its use of silicon, sticking instead to its Parachrom overcoil hairspring for the vast majority of its movements.

For the last nine years, the Syloxi hairspring was restricted to the cal. 223x family, a diminutive 20 mm movement platform reserved primarily for ladies’ watches. The use of Syloxi in the cal. 7140 but not the new cal. 4131 chronograph movement suggests that Rolex remains committed to metallic hairsprings when the movement thickness allows for an overcoil.

In addition to its technical attributes, the cal. 7140 is surprisingly attractive, introducing a new style of movement finishing for Rolex. Featuring mechanically applied Côtes de Genève and an 18k gold oscillating weight, the movement is visible through a sapphire crystal back.

Key facts and price

Rolex Perpetual 1908
Ref. 52508 (YG)
Ref. 52509 (WG)

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 9.5 mm
Material: 18k white gold or yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 7140
Features: Hours, minutes, sub-seconds
Frequency:  28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 66 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Available at Rolex authorised dealers
Price: US$22,000 (YG); US$23,300 (WG)

Prices exclude local taxes

For more, visit rolex.com.


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