Do you know what the best type of watch collection is? A practical watch collection. You can keep your perpetual calendar chronographs and half-quarter repeaters for all we care. Because we want a set of tough, reliable timepieces we can wear day-in, day-out.
Watches like those in Tudor’s Black Bay collection. From the P01 to the GMT, this is a range of models built with classic looks and reliable mechanisms; at once timely, timeless and exceedingly handsome on the wrist.
And perhaps the most sought-after, impressive Black Bay is the Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’. Having just won the “Challenge” Prize at the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, Tudor’s new, blue-hued take on its Black Bay Fifty-Eight has been the unexpected hit watch of 2020. But, while you must wait your turn to buy one — up to a year on some dealers’ lists — this striking blue-bezel-blue-dial timepiece is worth the investment. Here’s why.
Where did the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight come from (and when did it turn blue)?
The Tudor name, if you weren’t aware, was wound to life by Hans Wildorf in 1926 — as a sister brand to Rolex. At the time, the marque was established to offer affordable watches that would preserve Rolex’s reputation for quality. “Tudor’s motto,” the brand tells Gentleman’s Journal, “is to produce the best watch at the best possible price.” However, over time, the Swiss brand has become its own beast — diving into the world of marine and production tool watches.
The Black Bay was unveiled in 2012 — though its story began many years earlier. Inspired by a Tudor diving model from the 1950s, the first Black Bay’s distinctive screw-down big crown paired perfectly with a more modern, larger dial — and it flew off the shelves. The Chrono followed, and then the Bronze — but it was the Black Bay Fifty-Eight (named for 1958; the first year Tudor released a divers’ watch waterproof to 200 metres) that really got our attention.
“Tudor’s motto is to produce the best watch at the best possible price...”
This watch, black and gold in colour, was revealed in 2018 — and it became a waiting list item itself. This may have been rare for a watch of such a reasonable price point (£2,760), but Tudor tells us that it’s not always a large price-tag that makes a watch covetable, but rather the way it makes you feel.
“The purchase of a watch appeals to an emotion,” the Swiss brand explains. “Whether it is aesthetic or practical — or both. Each person has a different way of wearing and enjoying a timepiece. Therefore, as a brand, it is essential to find the right mix between these two characteristics — in order to allow each person to appreciate the product from an aesthetic point of view, but also to make them feel comfortable to wear their watch in a way that pleases them.”
The Black Bay found that ‘right mix’, and was a hit. Fans of the brand even began to speculate on the next colour scheme of the watch. This year, it was revealed to be navy blue. It’s a colour close to Tudor’s ticking heart; the French Navy adopted the shade for its Tudor diving watches in the 1970s.
Mechanically, what makes the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue so special?
Back to the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Because, although the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue looks the part, you can’t swing the “Challenge” prize on looks alone.
Instead, this particular category — which rewards watches with a price of up to 4,000 Swiss francs — judges the whole retro-styled package of the Fifty-Eight Navy Blue; from its ‘Snowflake’ hands to that grained matt domed dial.
“Among other aesthetic nods to the ref. 7924,” adds Tudor, “also known as the “Big Crown” by collectors and the watch from which the modern Black Bay Fifty-Eight is derived, this model offers a 39 mm diameter case in keeping with the characteristic proportions of the 1950s — ideal for slim wrists, people who like more compact watches and vintage enthusiasts.”
But the most impressive feature of the watch is surely the Manufacture Calibre MT5402. Equipped with hour, minute and second functions, its build was designed to ensure robustness, longevity and precision — think laser-decorations, satin-brushing and a tungsten monobloc. It’s even chronometer-certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) — and outperformed the organisations stringent standards during testing.
So why is the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue a good addition to my collection?
It’s a good question. Firstly, affordability. You may have been eyeing a Rolex, but a Tudor is considerably more affordable — and, dare we say it, even more refined and smart than a Submariner. It’s less of a style statement; but having a Black Bay in your collection shows you know more about watches than their worth in pounds and pence.
Secondly, versatility. A steel watch is versatile at the best of times — but, when one has the retro appeal of this blue Black Bay Fifty-Eight, there’s nary a social situation it won’t fit into.
"The purchase of a watch appeals to an emotion, whether it is aesthetic or practical — or both..."
“Its vintage look adapted to the modern technologies TUDOR’s offer today,” explain Tudor of the watch’s design. “That’s definitely what makes this watch appealing for collectors. This new model is great example of the Tudor design philosophy, taking inspiration from various neo-vintage models and reinterpreting them as modern timepieces rather than re-editing vintage watches to be identical.”
Which brings us to the third reason you should invest in Tudor’s latest blue-hued timepiece: It’ll bring a maturity to your collection. Tudor is coming of age — the brand has broken away from any ‘second-fiddle’ connotations its name previously held, and developed a die-hard following of its own. These days, to wear a Tudor isn’t to desire a Rolex — it’s to show your sophistication, individuality and loyalty to a standalone brand that rightfully deserves your time.
So, which Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue to buy?
You don’t have to go for the steel bracelet, but at just over £200 more, why would you not? You can always invest in the blue ‘soft touch’ strap or striped fabric strap at a later date. Whichever option you do opt for, the sharp steel case and white hands and markers will still create a striking contrast on your wrist.
So, if you are looking to add to your existing collection — or you want a copper-bottomed cornerstone of a watch to lay the foundations of a new one — we can think of few options better than the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Steel Bracelet
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Soft Touch’ Strap
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Fabric Strap
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