Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Reference-79030N-0001
One month review
After one month of ownership, the idea of watch rotation has remained out the window for the time being. While this is standard when a new watch comes on board, it doesn’t usually last this long. This is the first time I have re-purchased a watch. Well in a way … I have previously owned the Black Bay Noir ETA version. I picked this up in the January after it was released at Baselworld in the previous year. It was also a popular watch and I had difficulty sourcing one. As a Melbourne boy, I eventually found one (only one) in Adelaide that I managed to pick up while there for the Tour Down Under. Yes, cycling, that’s my other expensive hobby.
I loved the Black Bay the moment I saw it. I already owned a Tudor Chrono Blue. While I agreed that the sides were designed in the now (in)famous Tudor slab that didn’t attract me very much, the dial was a stunner and all one needed to do was glance at this to forget the side profile of the watch. After a time though, the slab design of the case grew to become a reason not to wear the watch or to keep it on the bracelet so as not to focus on the thickness. Mind you, this was the ETA version, the slimmer of the two. It was after all only 13mm thick, but the design gives it that 17+ mm thickness. All too much and fliparoo … gone along with the Chrono Blue and a new Explorer found its way into my modest collection.
Along comes 2018 Baselworld and in classic Tudor fashion, they unveil an unexpected surprise, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Wow, 39×11.9×47. This was something that spoke to me straight away and I was excited about getting into another Tudor and another Black Bay. Straight off to the AD to see about getting my hands on one. Kennedy’s was the AD of choice and Gavin and Oscar were incredible in their attention to me and follow up emails and calls. I think I received one of the first in Australia, most certainly the first in Melbourne. I was immediately taken by how much difference a few millimetres here and there could make. Arrived at Kennedy’s around 11 and by 12 I was walking out with the 58 strapped to my (6.75) wrist.
Unlike big brother, Tudor uses 316L steel. The package was surprisingly light in my hand I recall when I first picked it up. The smaller size isn’t limited to the case, the bracelet is 20mm where the original is 22mm. This is the riveted variety and it has a stepped construction at 19, 17, then 16’s. The bracelet is a solid link variety with solid end links but appears to be a little thinner that the original ETA BB bracelet as well. All contributing to a little less and welcome heft. Make no mistake though, this is still a substantial piece. You’ve got to hand it to Tudor though, they have balls, ceramic ones. The clasp is designed so that wear will not become an issue with no metal to metal fixing. They utilise four ceramic spring loaded balls into the design of the clasp. Now that’s attention to detail.
Gone from the standard Black Bay is the bubble back on the case. The 58 has only one small raised section to allow the caseback to be opened.
The dial of the watch is the same classic design that has been with us since 2012 with the only change, well documented now, the shield and smiley-face text changes. I’m glad that Tudor never went down the Pelagos road with copious amounts of text on the dial.
While some people have questioned Tudor’s use of the riveted bracelet and the stepped design, I find it fitting again with the style of the watch. Besides this, I am a constant strap changer and already have the fabric strap on order, another olive canvas and leather number from Crown and Buckle as well as a multitude of NATO’s. I wouldn’t ever let a strap stop me from buying a watch.
While I understand that the dial is slightly domed, it doesn’t look to be. It looks quite flat. It also looks to have a slightly less textured dial from memory, but I may be mistaken. Overall it presents as a lovely chocolatey brown or black depending on the light. The pips are also unchanged and are beautifully applied gold indices with highly luminous green plots. Given the dial has lost 2 mm in diameter, it is no less readable and as someone that now needs to wear reading glasses, I have no trouble reading the dial without them even with a quick cursory glance. Under a loupe, the attention to detail is what you would expect from Tudor and every bit as good as my Explorer. The bezel has been a topic of discussion on the forum boards without any clear consensus as to gold or silver being the preferred choice. Wearing the watch and looking at it (a lot), I love what they have done here. The matte finish of the aluminium insert almost looks like a soft plasticine at times. While some people have a fear of scratching and would have prefered ceramic, I think the aluminium fits in more with what Tudor seem to have been trying, very successfully, to accomplish.
Due to the decrease in case height down to 11.9mm the crown has also had to be reduced in size from the standard Black Bay and now comes in at 6.8mm. The rose logo still adorns the face of the crown but rather than being a sunken rose into the face, the 58 has the rose logo raised on the face. The domed sapphire crystal is done in the same way as the previous Black Bays. Both of these features can be seen in the photo provided.
The Black Bay 58 still has a design that wears bigger than it is. Look at photos online of it side by side with an older Submariner at 40mm and you might think that the 58 is the larger watch. This is looking straight down at the dial and with the side profile. On the wrist, this is still a substantial watch but rather than a block of metal working the arm muscles, we have a svelte piece of horology that can just as easily slip under a cuff and be ready for a day in the office as being the weekend go to watch. With 70 hours of power reserve, it’s just as easily put down for the weekend and then strapped on again come Monday without adjusting anything.
The Tudor Manufacture calibre inside is somewhat of a surprise from Tudor and was introduced with the watch with great surprise. Tag Heuer’s new chronographic movement has been known about for quite a few years now with development as the 1969, CH80 and now as the Heuer 02, with each new naming also bringing along changes in design. It’s not an easy thing to keep a secret. But Tudor being related to Rolex means that you know about developments when they want you to know. The MT5402 is a stunning movement with some technical components not even being used by Rolex in the sports watches yet.
Rolex has given Tudor use of their patent-protected Siloxi hairspring which they have as yet only introduced to one line of ladies watch calibre. The MT5402 also comes with a free sprung balance with full bridge, a 70hr power reserve and is COSC certified. Tudor, like Rolex, goes further than COSC and claim that their movements will run at least 40% greater accuracy than required for COSC certification. That equates to -2/+4. This is a calibre that had to be created to make a watch of the 58’s dimensions. This leads to the idea that Tudor will gradually phase out all ETA use in their smaller watches. Perhaps next year we will see the full range of Black Bays as well as other models with in-house calibres.
|Model||Fifty-Eight||ETA Black Bay||MT Black Bay|
|Lug to Lug||47mm||51mm||51mm|
|Power Reserve||70 hrs||38 hrs||70 hrs|
|Bracelet||20-16mm Stepped with rivets and transversal bars||22-18 Cut straight without Rivets||22-18mm Stepped with Rivets and transversal bars.|
|Deployant||16mm Folded with Ceramic spring loaded balls (micro adjustments with tool only)||18mm Folded with Ceramic spring loaded balls (micro adjustments with tool only)||18mm Folded with Ceramic spring loaded balls (micro adjustments with tool only)|
Tudor Divers watches were introduced to the world in 1954. While the Rolex Submariner was introduced to the world in 1953, it was not available for purchase until 1954 as well. It was only a few months later that Tudor were offered to the public for sale. If we acknowledge that the modern dive watch with rotating bezel was born with Blancpain and Rolex, then Tudor was the third maker to hit the market. That stands Tudor above and before some well-storied watchmakers.
They have been used by the French, British and US navies. Their close association with the French Navy, Marine Nationale led to the Snowflake hands being introduced in 1968. Today, all Tudor divers share the use of snowflake hands and they are just as much a trademark of the brand as the Mercedes hands are for Rolex.
UPDATE: While Zodiac had released the Sea Wolf as a Divers watch in 1953, they are somewhat surprisingly left out of most discussions when reference is made to the first Divers watches released. A reader pointed me to this article on The Springbar: https://thespringbar.com/blogs/guides/the-zodiac-sea-wolf
While Zodiac is a small maker now owned by the Fossil group, in the 50’s and 60’s they were a well known Swiss maker. Like many others makers, they struggled with the onset of the quartz era and closed their doors. They stumbled into a few reincarnations until finally being resurrected by Fossil. Perhaps this and the fact that the original bezel on this watch was a countdown bezel has it not included in these conversations. It was in fact rated to a greater depth than the Blancpain FF. If you have any further information on this, I’d love to hear it. Thanks to Steffen Friedrichs for providing the information above.