by Patrick Gilbertson May 26, 2021 44 Comments
The most un-Rolexy Tudor so far.
Just a few months on from the unveiling of five edgy new releases at Watches and Wonders 2021, Tudor has launched the Black Bay Ceramic - a bold move highlighting not only the brand's technical expertise, but it’s ability to step out from it’s parent company’s conventional shadow. With a reasonable price tag, a 41mm matte black ceramic case and an in-house movement with Master Chronometer certification from METAS, there’s a lot to love with this latest addition to the extensive Black Bay family.
While this isn’t Tudor’s first attempt at a ceramic case, it will be the first widely available one in that it’s a general, non-limited release. The Black Bay Ceramic is, however, Tudor’s first step into the world of high-end independent test certification, becoming the second brand to be involved with METAS since it was set up in collaboration with Omega in 2015. For those not familiar with METAS testing, it’s pretty serious stuff. To become certified, watches must retain a minimum accuracy of -0/+5 seconds per day over 9 days of gruelling testing. The tests include a check of the movement’s naked and cased accuracy in a number of different positions and temperatures, as well as with low and high power reserves. The watch will also have to run within the aforementioned parameters while being blasted with 15,000 gauss of magnetism - that’s roughly the same amount that’s produced by an MRI machine. Additionally, the power reserve itself is tested against its quoted figure (70 hours in the case of this Black Bay) along with the water resistance (20 ATM here).
Just like with METAS certified Omega watches, Tudor are offering an online service where owners can see the performance data from their watch’s tests. Happily, and unlike with Omega, you don’t have to input your buyer details to find out your watches test results - you just scan the card that comes in the box.
The sable, monochromatic case design extends onto the movement finishing on the MT5602-1U calibre. Its rotor is made from black tungsten which is satin-brushed with sand-blasted details. Interestingly, Tudor told us that the rotor has been designed with aerodynamics in mind in order to prolong the life of the bearing components due to tungsten’s increased density over steel. The bridges and mainplate continue in the Death Star theme with alternate PVD coated sand-blasted surfaces, polished surfaces and laser decorations.
As mentioned, seasoned Tudor fans will recognise that this new release shares some design elements with the Black Bay Dark from 2019 (the PVD coated steel) and even more with the ‘One For Only Watch’ Ceramic 41mm Black Bay that raised £300,000 for charity, also from 2019. However, in the metal (or mineral?) it’s clear the case has been elevated from the aforementioned designs with the inclusion of polished bevelled edges on the sides of the case. Not only do the shiny edges look fantastic next to the cloudy, unpolished ceramic but they also seem to make the watch wear smaller on wrist.
As for the bits on this ceramic watch that aren’t ceramic: the bezel, case back, crown and crown tube are all PVD coated steel. As a result, you won’t feel much of a weight difference between the Ceramic Black Bay and the standard steel one. As you’d expect, the PVD coating is done very nicely and integrates with the ceramic aspects without any drama. Sitting inside the coin-edge PVD coated steel bezel is a deep-etched ceramic bezel insert that features a pronounced sunburst effect which is super eye-catching.
The dial is dark grey in colour and features a subtle sunburst effect - this far less obvious than what’s shown in Tudor’s press shots. In reality, the dial looks matte in most lighting environments. The trademark mix of circular, rectangular and triangular indices are nicely applied and, like the ‘Snowflake’ handset, they’re filled with beige Super-LumiNova that glows green when the lights are out. As seems to be the theme with the Black Bay Ceramic, Tudor have changed things up when it comes to the dial text. The new model ditches the traditional 3 lines of numerical depth rating, ‘Chronometer’ and ‘Officially Certified’ and opts simply for ‘Black Bay’ and ‘Master Chronometer’ - two phrases that have never appeared on a Tudor dial before.
Like with the silver and gold Black Bays launched a short while ago, there’s no bracelet option for the Ceramic Black Bay. Instead, it’s supplied on what Tudor are calling a ‘Hybrid Leather’ strap, which is a rubber-backed black leather strap with some sort of water-repellant coating on the outside. To its credit, the strap features a solid-feeling PVD coated steel deployant clasp that has a nice snappy action to it. If you’re not a fan of leather on dive watches, a handsome fabric strap is also supplied in the box.
There’s no question that from a technical/horological point of view, the Black Bay Ceramic is one of the best value props out there. The only other watch with a monobloc ceramic case and a METAS certified movement that’s also an ISO certified dive watch is the 43.5mm Omega Seamaster Ceramic. While the Omega is a great watch, it’s by no means twice as good as this Black Bay. This begs the question: why does it cost twice as much at £6,950?
While I am sold on the idea of a stealthy ceramic sports watch, I can’t help but notice the juxtaposition of this latest Tudor release. The Black Bay range has always been focused towards vintage-inspired watches and, for me, this modern and exotic material would’ve been more suited to Tudor’s most capable and most modern-looking watch - the Pelagos. However, as a Marketing student, and a realist, I accept that the main driver behind Tudor’s choice of case material here will have been style - the Black Bay is Tudor’s most ‘stylish’ range of sports watches.
What do you think of Tudor’s latest release? Let us know in the comments below.
Diameter - 41mm
Movement - MT5602-1U
Power Reserve - 70 hours
WR - 200m
Price - £3,550