When Tudor dropped its newest Black Bay (and its only 2020 release so far) the internet was immediately abuzz with discussion. David Beckham flexed his on Instagram and instantly received a million likes, while a debate raged on the watch blogs as to what to nickname this new addition to the Tudor family (Blue Bay? Baby Smurf?). Here in Toronto, I’ve spent the last week happily sporting my loaner and can report that the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue wears as well as it looks. The 39mm case is a great size for guys like me with slimmer wrists, while still flattering meatier arms like Beckham’s. As someone who likes smaller cases, I have to say I wouldn’t change a thing here, including the 4.99mm thickness, which sits comfortably on my wrist without getting in the way.
The blue dial and bezel are obviously important here, too, and there has been much discussion in the past week (among people who obsess over such things online) about what shade of blue it is. Notably, the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue is a darker shade than the Pelagos, another favourite diver from Tudor’s current lineup. The new watch’s colour is deeper and moodier, calling to mind a stormy sea, rather than a crystal lagoon. To my mind it’s the colour of a perfectly faded pair of selvedge denim jeans, which has to be one of the best shades of blue there is.
In addition to its looks, the new Black Bay is the latest in a long line of professional dive watches from Tudor. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight is named after the reference 7924, aka the Tudor “big crown,” which was released in 1958 and has become a much sought-after grail in recent years. The big crown was the brand’s first watch capable of water resistance to 200m, and cemented Tudor’s place as a world-class maker of tool watches for the open ocean. A decade later, in 1969 (the same year the brand introduced its trademark “snowflake” hands), Tudor came out with a diver’s watch with a blue dial and bezel, the first in a long series of blue-hued Tudors, of which the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue is the latest. These watches performed so well that they became the choice of the French navy in the 1970s, further strengthening the brand’s reputation for performance.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue comes in three variations, the first on a riveted steel bracelet ($4,210), the second with a blue “soft touch” synthetic strap which Tudor likens to flannel, and the third on a woven blue strap with a silver stripe down the middle (both $3,850). Mine came equipped with the latter, which looks a bit like a regular nylon NATO strap, but feels more luxurious. Tudor sources these straps from a company in France that weaves them on 150-year old jacquard looms. In any case, these are just the kind of above-and-beyond details that makes Tudor such an intriguing brand.
And speaking of details, you can’t talk about the Black Bay Fifty-Eight without a tip of the cap to its movement, the Manufacture Calibre MT5402. Made in-house by Tudor, it exceeds COSC standards for accuracy and features a 70-hour power reserve, meaning you can take it off on Friday and put it back on on Monday without needing to reset the time. Like all of Tudor’s watches, there’s no crystal case back to allow a view of the movement, but it is nonetheless finely finished with satin-brushed, polished and sand-blasted components. Why would Tudor go to the trouble of satin-finishing a movement that only a watchmaker will ever see? The answer is why people love this brand so much, and just one of many things that make the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue an instant classic.