The world of watchmaking can be a fascinating alphabet soup of French and English phrases. And one of the most disarmingly charming additions to the horological lexicon is the term ‘weekend-proof’.
A ‘weekend-proof’ watch won’t help you survive a freak DIY accident or notify you when you’ve had too many Malbecs, but its coiled-up mainspring capacity will allow you to unshackle your weekday office watch (‘WFH’ still being foreign to Swiss technical specs) and re-shackle come Monday morning without having to rewind and reset the time.
Tudor’s new timepiece — the Black Bay Ceramic — takes this ‘weekend-proof’ tag and elevates it to the next level (dare we say making it ‘life-proof’?). In fact, we can imagine Bruce Wayne adding this 200-metre diving watch to his high-tech gadget collection. But its stealth, utility-belt aesthetic isn’t just about show. Rather, its the ultimate condensation of where the high-end mechanical wristwatch should be going, having remodelled itself as a luxury investment post ’Quartz Crisis’ in the Eighties.
This is the sort of innovation that established Switzerland’s finest as the number one in the first place. It boasts a ceramic case scratch-resistant to the most errant of lawn-mowers and a 70-hour punch packed by its MT5602-1U movement, manufactured by Tudor’s cutting-edge Kenissi facility high in the Jura mountains.
And it is that suffixed ‘U’ that hints at the chronometer-certified precision packed into this diving watch. The U is in fact a graphic representation of the powerful magnet at play here – 15,000 Gauss’ worth of magnet in fact – which ensures that this is a timepiece, which can undergo an MRI scan and come out unscathed.
Of course, the use of a magnet like this isn’t brand new, but it’s been a full seven years since Omega watches’ revolutionary collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS). Now, at last, another watch brand is taking advantage of the bulletproof consumer confidence afforded by the rigorous Master Chronometer testing and certification programme.
Tudor displays these hard-won moniker, with both ‘Master Chronometer’ and (for the first time) ‘Black Bay’ adorning the dial, a sign of the rigorous METAS testing the Black Bay Ceramic has been put through.
Its movement has a precision certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), which exceeds COSC’s –4/+6 criteria by a full 5 seconds, in 6 different positions rather than the usual 5, and at two different levels of power reserve, 100% and 33%.
Its functions smoothly when exposed to the magnetic field of 15,000 gauss (the industry standard was coined at 50 gauss in 1973 – about the strength of a fridge door, but then again they didn’t have neodymium-battery smart devices back then). And it is waterproofed to 200m (660ft) in accordance with ISO standard 22810:2010, not forgetting those 70 hours of weekending autonomy.
When Rolex’s Anglophile founder Hans Wildorf registered the ‘Tudor’ name back in 1926, he didn’t use it for a full two decades. When he did what he created was a more accessibly priced, but no less serviceable tool watch.
Now with the Black Bay Ceramic, we have the 21st-century affirmation of that mantra: the best-possible watch at the best-possible price (£3,550, believe it or not) with just enough aesthetic echoes of Tudor’s post-war tour of duty, strapped to the wrists of military frogmen, oceanwide.
If it takes a brand of Tudor’s clout and Rolex backing this long to rise to the Master Chronometer challenge, posed by a brand as equally formidable as Omega, it’s unlikely we’ll see many more hopping on the bandwagon soon. You can be sure there are plenty working overtime towards it, though. Only so much of Switzerland is weekend-proof, after all.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic
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