It sounds strange but it doesn’t seem that long ago that Tudor introduced the Black Bay 58, I remember it quite fondly. It was 2018 and Tudor had introduced some gems and while everyone was busy talking about the new GMT (after all, it was the year of the GMT), we just couldn’t help being looking no further than the BB58, which was nod to the past but done with Tudor panache. For Watches and Wonder 2023 the BlackBay has perhaps stolen the limelight with the introduction of the BB54 another diving piece that pays tribute to the 1954 Tudor Submariner.
Previous Black Bay models have maintained the link to previous Tudor diving watches with nice little historical nods through visual elements but perhaps the biggest differentiator has always been the size of the cases, sized at a very modern 41mm, until 2018 when the BB58 came along, which measured a modest 39mm. However, the new Black Bay 54 is aptly named after the year in which the first Tudor divers’ watch – the reference 7922 – was introduced. What’s more, among other aesthetic illusions to the historic watch, this model has been endowed with a 37 mm case, in-keeping with the characteristic proportions of the 1950s.
There’s no secret that Tudor was created by Hans Wilsdorf to cater to those who couldn’t afford a Rolex by virtue making the Tudor cheaper. However, one of the ways in which this was done was by using non-in-house movements, such as the ETA workhorse 2483 calibre, this kept costs down, which allowed Tudor to compete at a lower price point. That said, the Tudor Black Bay of today makes use of an in-house calibre. Eight years ago, Tudor introduced their first in-house calibre and since then, every other year of so Tudor having been adding more in-house calibres in their line-up.
The new BlackBay 54 houses the manufacture developed calibre MT5400 which we’ve seen used in the Pelagos39 and the BlackBay 58 925, a movement not too dissimilar to the MT5402 used in the original Black Bay 58. With its 30.3 mm diameter, calibre MT5400 displays hours, minutes, and seconds functions, it sports the typical finishing of Tudor with an open worked tungsten rotor that has been satin-brushed, while the bridges have been sand-blasted and decorated. Furthermore, it is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) and boasts a power reserve of approx. 70 hours, making the in Tudor’s words “calibre weekend-proof”.
The dial on the BB54 is well executed and incorporates an all-matte black dial with finishing touches of text in gold, as well as minute track – evoking memories of the original negative relief gilt printing method used by Tudor in the 1950s and 1960s. Tudor have also gone further by using gold-plated hour marker inlaid with Super-Luminova which have had some patina added, which adds some vintage warmth. The gold snowflake hands also make use of the same faux patina though it would’ve been nice to see different hands (perhaps pencil hands) but it is in-keeping with the identity of the Black Bay line.
Like the rest of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, the bezel has been well executed too. The black “coin edge” bezel creates the perfect backdrop to the gold scale, with a silver triangle at 12 o’clock with a pearl that has also been treated with matching faux patina. Adding to the overall vintage inspired look too is the fluted crown, which looks almost exactly like the original and features a Tudor rose. Oh, and of course there is the bracelet. We first saw this 1950s/1960s vintage-style inspired, riveted bracelet in 2017 on the Black Bay Black/Dark. This modern interpretation is true to form and features the very distinct stepped construction, though instead features faux rivets, with solid links that deliver that vintage look with modern robustness and bonus of a micro adjuster – for making on the fly adjustments.
A black rubber strap option is also available for the Black Bay 54. The strap comes in three sizes complete with the TUDOR “T-fit” clasp, and for the perfect fit, it can be cut down to the exact size of the wearer’s wrist. Inside it features the signature snowflake motif for added grip, and it is form-fitted specifically for the Black Bay 54.
The New Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Four is available on a bracelet or rubber strap, as mentioned, and is priced at £3,200 & £3,020 respectively. For more information on visit the official Tudor website.