Tudor is a watch brand that has a long and rich history. But at the same time, it is well known that Tudor has had a particularly strong connection with Rolex in its early years, and as such, Tudor has always been seen as a brand that is a ”poor man’s Rolex”, or a watch company which isn’t powerful or important enough to stand on its own legs.
Of course, this is not very surprising considering the fact that Tudor was founded by the same man who founded Rolex, and created Tudor as a cheaper alternative to Rolex, making them with, to a large extent, the same parts as Rolex uses – only that Tudor’s were fitted with off-the-shelf ETA movements, thus allowing them to become cheaper.
But in 2009, a major relaunch of the Tudor brand took place, as an attempt to establish the brand in modern times, and to distance it so far from Rolex that it proved that it was a watch brand to rely on, and which was strong enough to stand on its own legs at the same time as it had an appealing and interesting heritage and history to its advantage.
In the following years, Tudor released a number of new watches and models, but the model that has had the biggest importance, and which has played the biggest role in Tudor’s success is the Heritage Black Bay.
In this article, we’re looking closer at a specific watch in Tudor’s heritage Black Bay model line. We’re looking at the Black Bay Bronze reference 79250BM.
Background to the Tudor Black Bay Bronze
Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay line was the model which helped Tudor gain traction in its relaunch, and see immense success.
The Heritage Black Bay line is, as the name suggests built on Tudor’s heritage. In fact, it’s built on Tudor’s dive watches from the 1950s and 60s, crying the distinctive and iconic traits of these vintage watches, with things like big crowns without crown guards, and with large indexes.
The vintage Tudor Submariners had become increasingly popular, partly because of their close relationship with Rolex (Tudor’s Submariners used the same parts as Rolex did for their Submariners), but also because they were the ”first real” diver’s watches, which now have become extremely popular and iconic.
Naturally, because of the huge success of the Black Bay range, Tudor has continued to build upon its Heritage Black Bay line. First, Tudor released three watches in the Black Bay line, in black, blue, and red, but over time, Tudor released more variants of the model, with watches such as a Black Bay Chronograph, Black Bay GMT, as well as in new metals and colors.
And then came the Tudor Black Bay Bronze which we’ll focus on in this article.
Also known as Tudor Bronzo, the Black Bay bronze is, in a way, quite an odd watch in Tudor’s Black Bay lineup, and it is one that is very hard to miss.
As the name reveals, this watch is made in bronze, as opposed to stainless steel which most of the Black Bay watches are made in.
So how did Tudor came up with the idea for the Black Bay Bronze?
Well, bronze cases for watches are really nothing new. They are just quite niched when it comes to watches.
The fact that the material bronze is used for a diver’s watch is certainly not surprising. In fact, bronze is a highly suitable material for diver’s watches since they handle water very well – even though they develop a strong patina over time. Historically, bronze has been used for many areas related to water, such as in shipbuilding and diving equipment.
In that way, bronze has a long maritime history, which naturally makes it a good candidate as the material in a diver’s watch. Furthermore, Tudor is certainly not the first watch manufacturer to use bronze for a dive watch.
The aging characteristics of bronze
As mentioned, bronze watches are very niched, and they tend to mainly attract true watch aficionados and vintage watch lovers. An important reason for this is the way bronze is affected visually by aging and the way it develops patina quite fast. This makes sense since people who are fascinated by vintage watches tend to be fascinated by the patina of the watches which adds character, history, and charm to the watch. In that sense, a bronze watch becomes almost like a vintage watch but quite quickly, as it develops a natural patina over time.
The Black Bay Bronze develops a patina over the years which becomes unique to the watch. What makes the watch more interesting is that it ages together with its owner, and changes its look over time as the bronze gets more signs of aging.
In fact, to speed up the aging process of the Black Bay Bronze, some even put the watch in vinegar or other liquid which helps the bronze develop a patina.
The Tudor Black Bay Bronze
At its release in 2016, the Black Bay Bronze was quite an unexpected release, but not completely unexpected at the same time. It goes without saying that it’s a daring watch, but when thinking about it, this makes sense since Tudor’s motto is ”Born to dare”.
It’s no secret that Tudor is still owned by Rolex today, and while Rolex is a very modest brand which makes no drastic or unexpected things in terms of design, Tudor is a much more daring brand. Maybe because Tudor puts less at risk when releasing daring models like the Black Bay Bronze.
Of course, having a brand like Tudor by its side is a great thing for Rolex since it can push its little brother down the cliff before them, and if Tudor makes it out alive, Rolex can jump after, when everyone is expecting it, and the jump isn’t seen as equally daring or controversial by the market.
Of course, being as daring as the Black Bay Bronze is, it’s naturally a watch that splits opinions. But again, it’s not a watch that is meant for everyone. Either you love it or you hate it, and those who love it tend to be, generally speaking, devoted watch aficionados who love the history and story being the Black Bay model, is fascinated by Tudor’s and Rolex’s 50s and 60s dive watches, and love the character that the patinated bronze acquires over time.
Black Bay Bronze characteristics
Not only is the watch daring with its bronze case, but in terms of size, the watch also has a case which doesn’t go unnoticed. While the ”standard” black Bay watches have a diameter of 41mm, the Black Bay Bronze has a diameter of 43 millimeters.
While the Bronze carries the characteristics and case shape of a standard Black Bay, the Bronze is quite different, but at the same time, there are a number of similarities.
First off, the Black Bay Bronze features a big crown in true vintage dive watch fashion. It also features Tudor’s iconic snowflake hands, inspired by the vintage Tudor snowflake, and which now is a defining trait of the Black Bay.
The dimensions of the watch, apart from the use of bronze for the case is the biggest difference between the standard Black Bay, but on the flip side, the relatively few bronze watches that are on the market tend to be larger in size, such as the Zenith bronze, and maybe Bronze watches need to be larger to pull off its bold look (we acknowledge that there are smaller bronze watches out there).
The brown color used for the dial and bezel is a color never before seen in the Black Bay range but ties well together with the bronze case. It’s also worth noting that the brown color is different on the dial and bezel, but more on that later. Also, the 3,6,9 Arabic numerals on the dial are also never before used in the Black bay range but is an extremely sought-after dial configuration in vintage Rolex and Tudor diver watches as they were manufactured in limited numbers. Thus, the Arabic numerals can be seen as a nod to Tudor’s past.
The drilled lugs are also something new to the Black Bay line, but again nothing surprising since drilled lugs was a standard on the vintage Tudor and Rolex dive watches.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that the casebackk of the watch isn’t made in bronze, but rather in steel with a bronze-colored PVD coating. This is not for cheating or because it is cheaper, but instead, it is of practical reasons. First off, bronze is not as comfortable against the skin as stainless steel is. Now, of course, there are people who cannot have stainless steel against the wrist due to allergies, but the same can affect people when it comes to bronze, and when it is exposed to the skin for a long period of time, it can irritate the skin.
Additionally, since body chemicals from the wrist such as sweat will speed up the aging process of bronze, if the case back of the Black Bay bronze would be in bronze as well, the wrist would when used when sweating or moist, leave a green residue, and this is obviously not ideal. Therefore, the case back in steel.
The sacrifice you make with this is that when the case of the watch ages, the caseback and the case will have different tones. Therefore, while the case will have an old, patinated look, the caseback will look new. At least the good thing about this is that the casebackk isn’t visible when wearing the watch.
In true Black Bay fashion, the watch has a crown tube which extends from the case and which keeps the crown locked in place. The crown has an engraved rose, and on the dial is Tudor’s modern logo, which is the Tudor shield. These two logos are a nod to the past and the present.
When the crown is screwed down, the watch offers a water-resistance of 200 meters – just like the rest of the Black bay divers.
Tudor Black Bay Bronze 79250BM movement
The movement of the Tudor Black Bay bronze is quite an interesting one. The first Black Bay watches that were launched featured ETA movements – just like the vintage Tudor Submariners that they took inspiration from did, but over time, Tudor has more and more moved towards in-house movements for its watches in order to show that they are a watch brand that you can rely on as a ”good” watch brand that produces great watches, but also to strengthen its reputation as a Swiss watch brand, and maybe most importantly, to prove that it is strong enough to stand on its own legs, not relying on its bigger brother Rolex.
With that in mind, the Tudor Black Bay Bronze is powered by the in-house high-tech chronometer MT-56XX caliber. This movement is a variation on Tudor’s very first in-house caliber, introduced with was introduced with the Tudor North Flag. The MT in the caliber stands for ”Manufacture Tudor”, proudly showing that it is an in-house movement made by Tudor.
It has a frequency of 28,800 vph, and features a 70-hour power reserve. This is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with a silicon balance spring held in place by a traversing bridge. It is an automatic movement, and it is self-wound by a bi-directional rotor. Following Rolex’s footsteps, the movement is COSC certified.
An in-house movement for a piece like the Black bay Bronze is almost crucial when having in mind the people who buy them.
The movement is specifically modified and made for the Black Bay Bronze as it is larger in diameter than the movement which is used in the North Flag.
Lume of the Black Bay Bronze
The luminescent of the Black Bronze is great. It is powerful and long-lasting. Thanks to its larger case, the indexes are also larger, thus making legibility both in the dark and the light extremely good.
The 3, 6, and 9 are also equipped with luminescent material, which not only looks great in the dark but also helps with legibility. Of course, this is just what you’d expect from a diver’s watch – and a watch that is built on a collection that has proven to have great readability both in the dark and in the daylight.
Tudor Black Bay Bronze bezel
The Black Bay Bronze has a coin edge unidirectional bezel, just like the rest of the Black Bay divers, but it is finished in a completely new color. Also, since the case is larger, naturally the bezel is equally so.
Also, as mentioned earlier, the dial and bezel have two different shades of brown. The dial is highly matte, which makes the dial catch the sunlight beautifully, giving it different looks depending on how the light hits it, but also as a nod back to the matte dials of the vintage divers which were standard at the time. The color contrast between bezel and dial is subtle but works really well.
Just like the case, the bezel is also made from bronze but has an insert made in aluminum. When rotating it, the bezel makes a pleasant sound, and the resistance it offers is just perfect.
Black Bay Bronze straps
The strap of a watch is of great importance for the watch’s character, and this is a part which Tudor hasn’t neglected with the Black Bay bronze.
The watch doesn’t come on a bronze bracelet for obvious reasons, instead, it is presented either on a thick, rustic and robust brown leather strap with a solid bronze clasp or a fabric strap. The clasp of the leather strap has a brushed finish and a Tudor engraving.
Now, of course, some may ask the question why you would offer a leather strap as the main strap for a dive watch, and that’s obviously a very reasonable thought. The real truth is that most people won’t go swimming with their Black Bay Bronze watches (let’s be honest), but those who will have the other strap alternative if you’ve chosen to buy the watch with one.
The strap is a thick woven NATO-style canvas strap. When Tudor launched the Black Bay range, all watches came with a complimentary NATO canvas strap, but nowadays, this strap isn’t complimentary anymore
The canvas strap is equipped with a bronze shield-shaped ”clasp” and is woven from parachute cord, as a tribute to Tudor’s heritage of being a provider of watches for the French Navy.