The hype is comprehensively justified
Black BLACK BAY 58 on brown leather strap
I recently regained the confidence to re-visit ADs again after about a three to four month absence and I thought I would try my luck at my local AD by phoning them beforehand to check if it was safe to drop in and also to check what new stock had arrived. As luck would have it, my local AD not only just recently acquired the Tudor brand, but they also had a Black Bay 58 black and gilt dial in stock. Knowing how difficult and hyped both the black and blue Black Bay 58 were, I naturally drove down immediately after work to satisfy my excitement and curiosity about this highly sought after piece.
Many Heritage Black Bays were on display in the Tudor section but the Black Bay 58 on a brown leather strap was stored in the vault. My saleslady brought out the piece for me to try on and after about five minutes of wear, I purchased my first Tudor and it hasn’t left my wrist since and these are among the reasons why. This is a watch where the theme of proportion rings true in every aspect of its design. If Rolex rings king then the Tudor Black Bay 58 is its queen of proportions.
- SIZE: The black Tudor Black Bay 58 has a compromising 39mm case with much tapered lugs as compared to a Rolex supercase. This renders the watch much lighter and less bulky to wear as compared to other Tudors or Rolexes. At 12 mm thickness, it actually wears quite thin. Because the Black Bay 58 is modelled on the Tudor Submariner 1958, the watch sports a vintage look and feel but with a modern in house movement. For an average wrist size the watch is perfectly proportioned to fit comfortably and read legibly.
- AESTHETICS: The black Tudor Black Bay 58 is unlike any other watch I have ever seen before. What makes it so special is the combination of these colors matte black, red (12 o’clock on the bezel) and the rose gold gilt on the dial the hands and the bezel markers. The gilt rose gold harkens back to vintage Tudor and Rolex Submariners but the fauxtina hour markers and the black matte dial give the watch a refreshing and updated new look. Again, the amount of gold and black are proportioned just enough to appeal visually but not enough to overwhelm the senses. The stainless steel case is satin polished and not as mirror polished to the same extent as a Rolex but I prefer this understatendess.
- COMFORT: The black Black Bay 58 I purchased came on the brown leather strap and Tudor deployant buckle. At first, I found the brown Tudor factory leather strap to be rather stiff and uncomfortable. But after repeated wear it softened and I found it to be quite comfortable because unlike metal bracelets, the leather actually tents up the case above the flat of your wrist to relieve the pressure of the case upon it. However, the case is so light that it doesn’t need to be tented up. A quick measurement of the case, bracelet and buckle weighed 84g which is in keeping with the Aquanaut theme of thin and ultralight. However, I much prefer the comfort of the blue Black Bay 58 “soft touch” leather strap. The Tudor stainless steel case doesn’t seem as robust as a Rolex 904L steel case but I prefer this quality because it also makes the watch lighter than a sturdier 904L case.
- VERSATILITY: The Black Bay 58 provides so much versatility as a tool watch, not only in terms of aesthetics but also in functionality. I can wear the watch as a sports watch mostly but it also doubles as a dressy watch with the leather strap. The straps are easily interchangeable with a proper spring bar tool and because it is a relatively inexpensive watch, I prefer to change the straps myself. I have purchased the blue Vanguard straps but those only come with the pin buckle mechanism which I find more difficult to buckle than the Tudor deployant clasp. The risk of dropping the watch is much higher with pin buckle mechanisms because they require both straps to be held at once. Because I enjoy swimming with my watches, I have yet to find a waterproof bracelet that will sport the deployant buckle. Everest does not support the Black Bay 58 yet and Rubber B provides only the pin buckle mechanism. I may have to resort to ordering the stainless steel factory bracelet directly from Tudor which I am told is possible but I will wait until next summer pool season. One of the reasons I adore the Black Bay 58 is the ease of interchanging the straps (as compared to Rolex models) and how versatile the case complements many strap variants. The Black Bay 58 sports a Tudor in-house movement with a very convenient 70 hr power reserve.
Blue BLACK BAY 58 on “soft touch” leather strap
To be honest I was chasing the blue Black Bay 58 more than the black, but was offered the black first. Not knowing if I would ever obtain the blue, I capitalized on the black first in case I wouldn’t be ever offered any, because beggars can’t be choosers.
A few months later though, I was offered the blue Bay 58 on the factory NATO strap from a different AD and I did not hesitate. It seems the Black Bay 58 models are not that difficult to obtain compared to Rolex stainless steel professional models. And now I own both colours, but I much prefer the blue in terms of aesthetics and wearability.
The overall aesthetic of the blue Bay 58 is not overwhelming and impressive. The blue is a muted colour, like the black, and I prefer muted to shiny. The navy blue hue is pure and is not sunburst like the “Bluesy” or blue Sky Dweller, or even the “Smurf”. Whereas those pieces are meant to shine and create a luster to impress bling upon the wearer and their admirers, the blue Bay 58 bezel and dial are metallic enough to be visualized but understated enough to go under the radar. And I love that.
The lume on both Black Bay 58s is amongst the best I have seen in the business. The snowflake hands glow bright green during the night and the contrast between the hands and dial provide great legibility in low-light conditions.
The blue Bay 58 originally came on the factory blue NATO strap but I replaced it with the factory “soft touch” leather strap. I find this blue strap much more beautiful and refined than the brown factory leather strap that comes with the black Black Bay 58. The blue one is softer as the name suggests but at the same time provides the tenting effect of the case that was described before. It also comes on the same Tudor factory deployant clasp which I find indispensable on watches nowadays and I wouldn’t wear a watch on any other buckle mechanism.
Both Tudor Black Bay 58 watches are inexpensive and much undervalued pieces. They wear comfortably on small and large sized wrists because of their perfectly proportioned 39 mm diameter and 11.3 mm thickness.
Most young people will not seek to purchase a Tudor Black Bay 58 to celebrate a significant milestone or as their first luxury watch. We all know too well which brand takes that honour.
People who purchase the Tudor Black Bay 58 fall into two categories. One category is those who simply can’t yet afford a Rolex and are looking for an entry level luxury watch to hold them over until the Rolex comes. The other category is those seasoned collectors who have come full circle and have experienced most Rolex models or higher brands and they simply want to wear something as extremely comfortable as the Black Bay 58 for a daily wearer without being ostentatious. Those collectors know the value and versatility of the Black Bay 58. I’d like to think that I fall into the latter category. Needless to say I don’t know of anyone who does not love their Black Bay 58s.
My next review will be of another recent purchase the Patek Philippe 5146g annual calendar. Tantalizing.