Since their reintroduction to the American market a few years ago, Tudor has excelled at releasing pieces that reference their illustrious past. At this year’s Baselworld watch and jewelry fair, they’ve once again succeeded in delivering a refreshing new take on their Heritage Black Bay line and it’s all thanks to a different sort of reference point: an inspired nod toward bronze diving instruments of old, and bronze mechanisms from nautical history. The Heritage Black Bay Bronze—featuring a bronze case and unidirectional rotatable bezel and a bronze-colored PVD-treated steel caseback—carries all the attributes we’ve grown to love about the line, but the material itself makes the watch distinct. Many brands at the fair announce major releases on an annual basis, yet those new designs are nothing more than a switch from white gold to rose gold. This watch is different in that the colorway (and material) actually feels like a drastic departure from the blues, reds, blacks and steel we’ve come to expect from the brand.
The metal is a high-performance aluminum bronze alloy, making it durable but not too heavy. Further, it will develop a distinct patina over time. Other design nuances return to Tudor’s history: the “snowflake” hands they’ve adopted from the watches they produced for the French National Navy in the ’70s, and the “Big Crown” with an engraved Tudor rose, which references a piece they produced in 1958. At last year’s Baselworld, Tudor announced a major technical milestone: the development of their first in-house mechanical movement (designed, developed, produced and assembled by the brand in Switzerland). The Black Bay Bronze sports another proprietary movement; a self-winding mechanical MT5601. This demonstrates that just as much care was taken on the inside as on the satin-polished outside. Rounding out the entire presentation, the timepiece is placed on an aged leather strap with a bronze buckle with an additional, free mustard-colored fabric strap.
The Black Bay Bronze hits Tudor retailers in May 2016. It will sell for $3,975.
Images by David Graver