The Tudor Heritage Black Bay range is unarguably the most successful modern model line from Tudor, and this is also the reason why Tudor continues to build on the model line with new references and new variants.
In 2012, Tudor released its Heritage Black Bay model. This model took inspiration from Tudor’s dive watches (Submariner) from the 1950s and 1960s and combined modern element with vintage-inspired design features which people had come to love.
Since then, Tudor has released numerous variants of the initial three Black Bay divers reference 79220 which were offered in Black, Blue, Red. This includes a two-tone variant, a GMT, a 39mm, and a full bronze watch just to name a few.
But at Baselworld watch fair 2017. Tudor released the Black Bay Heritage Chronograph, reference M79350-0004, normally referred to as 79350.
At its launch, the Black Bay Chronograph became the center of attention and gained a lot of exposure. It was also met with some controversy, which I’ll go more into detail of further on.
In this article, we’re digging into the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph 79350, go through the background and specifications of this watch from Tudor.
Background to the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph
The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph received quite a lot of exposure upon its launch partly because it was a watch that most people didn’t see coming. Tudor had huge success with their dive watches, but not a lot of people would think that they would take their immensely popular Black Bay dive watch and rework it into a Chronograph. But that’s what they did, and thus catching many people off guard.
If we look at the design of the watch, and also its name, if you are familiar with the Black Bay divers, you know what to expect from the Chronograph.
The watch, in true Black Bay fashion, combines elements of both vintage diver and chronograph watches. The Chronograph continues to use many of the defining features of the Black Bay divers, which doesn’t come as a surprise since they’ve been contributing factors to the success of them. This includes elements such as the iconic big crown with rose logo, the no crown guards setup, snowflake hands, matte dial, and many more.
As a result of these elements, the Black Bay Chronograph combines vintage dive watch personalities with modern design elements and other interesting features. Of course, a complaint that some people have had about the similarities between the Black Bay diver and the Black bay Chronograph is that they should be more distinct.
Of course, dive watches and chronographs are quite distant from each other and are used in different areas, and so some people would argue that it makes no sense that the Chronograph takes plenty of inspiration from its dive watches, but on the flip side, why wouldn’t Tudor want to ride the success wave of their Black Bay diver model? In Tudor’s own words: ”The new hybrid Black Bay Chrono chronograph dares to combine the aquatic heritage represented by the Black Bay family with the queen of the racetrack, the chronograph.”
There’s one thing about the Black Bay Chronograph which has been quite controversial, and this is the fact that the Chronograph uses the classic snowflake hands. Of course, for watches, the snowflake hands makes a ton of sense because they allow for incredible legibility, but due to the size of the snowflake hands, naturally, they tend to cover the chronograph during sometimes and thus make them impossible to read and use.
On the one hand, the counter is quite small, and on the other, the large square at the end of the snowflake hour hand occasionally blocks the recessed subdial.
This also happens with the display of the small seconds which is placed at 9 o’clock.
In other words, if you are timing an elapsed time interval somewhere between 23 to 28 minutes long, or 36 to 45 minutes long, and the clock is somewhere around 2:00 or 4:00 PM, you will have a problem with the legibility of the chronograph.
When it’s 3 PM, the 33 and 34-minute counters are blocked, but still, you will be able to see every single other minute mark.
However, while this can be annoying, it is still possible to read it. Plus, the chronograph can always be engaged if the legibility is a problem for the wearer. Also, in daily use, it’s not really a problem.
Overall, the Black Bay Chronograph is a solid watch which has some great weight to it (at approximately 190 grams). It is robust and feels of great quality.
The case of the Black Bay Chronograph
The case is not really something new. It is built on the Black Bay case, which means that it features no crown guards, but rather a big crown, but naturally, since the watch is a chronograph, it features two additional pushers, placed on both sides of the crown.
The case combines brushed with polished, and it also has polished bevels/chamfers on the lugs which add elegance to what is quite a sporty watch. And small details like this truly does a lot to how the watch is perceived.
The watch has an engraved tachymeter scale on the non-rotating bezel and is finished in brushed steel. With the fact that the rest of the watch is in steel, the steel bezel makes the watch look even sportier and robust.
The big crown sits inside a long tube, and this can (should) be screwed down to prevent any water from leaking in.
It goes without saying that the crown can be used to wind the movement, but it can also be easily pulled into the correct positions for quick-date adjustment and hand setting, and then returned to its screw-down, locked position.
To ensure full water-resistance down to 200 meters, the pushers are screw-down. In order to use the pushers, you need to unscrew them first, and if you come in contact with water, you want to make sure that the pushers are screwed down.
The chronograph buttons demand a bit of pressure to click, and they’re nice to operate and feel of high quality.
The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph has a curved sapphire crystal (like all Black Bay models) to give the watch a vintage-inspired look.
The dial of the Black Bay Chronograph
In true vintage watch and Black Bay fashion, the Black Bay Chronograph features a matte dial which has a subtle grained finish that extends into the sunken sub-dials and again, the texture makes the watch more approachable and gives the watch more personality. Also, when the dial catches sunlight, it really helps the dial show its texture and show its personality.
The dial has bold markers and large hands to ensure superior legibility of the time both day and night. The catch, however, is that Tudor has omitted luminous dots at 3 and 9 o’clock, but this doesn’t create any real problem since all of the other indexes which are equipped with luminous material makes the watch easy to read.
On the dial, you’ll find that the water resistance is printed in red. Not only does this look great, but it’s also a nod back to Tudor’s historical models.
It’s also interesting because the Black Bay has clear roots with the vintage dive watches of Tudor, but something we shouldn’t forget is that Tudor also has chronographs in its past.
In fact, Tudor introduced its first chronograph, the “Prince Oysterdate,” equipped which features an ETA/ Valjoux 7734 movement, in 1970.
The bracelet of the Black Bay Chronograph
If you are familiar with the bracelet of the Black Bay line, the bracelet is nothing new. It’s sporty, robust, and feels high-quality.
In the new adjustment to the bracelets that Tudor has done, you’ll find faux rivets on the bracelet. The first lineup of Black Bay watches did not feature the faux rivets, but with the introduction of the in-house Black Bays, Tudor added the faux rivets to the bracelet to give the Black Bay watches more of a vintage look. The rivets tend to split opinions as some people tend to hate them and others love it, but in a way, they make sense since Tudor’s vintage dive watches feature them, and let’s not forget that the Black Bay is a heritage model.
There is no play between the links of the bracelet, and it is very comfortable to wear. The bracelet has a clasp which has the shape of a shield which is a small detail added because of Tudor’s logo shield. Also, the gap which is meant to allow you to get a grip of the safety catch has the form of a shield. The bracelet has a folding clasp system and three holds the side of the clasp which allows you to change the size of the bracelet with a few millimeters as opposed to changing the number of links.
The bracelet is matte brushed and polished on the sides.
Since the bracelet is solid, it makes the watch one more on the heavy side.
The watch is available to purchase either with an aged leather strap, fabric strap (denim strap), or the steel bracelet.
The fabric strap is woven using 19th-century Jacquard looms by a 150-year-old French company.
The chronograph function
As the name reveals the Black Bay Chronograph is a chronograph watch. Operating the chronograph is simple, and the push buttons are easily accessed and feel high-quality.
As mentioned, the push buttons have screw-down crowns to ensure water-resistance, and these are easy to operate when you feel like taking a swim or timing something.
Tudor Black Bay Chronograph movement
The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph movement is probably the most interesting thing about this watch since it has a very interesting story.
The Black Bay Chronograph is the first Tudor Chronograph to use the Breitling B01 chronograph movement. The movement in this watch is the Tudor chronograph caliber MT5813. While the name suggests it is a Tudor movement, it’s actually a Breitling movement at its core and then modified by Tudor. While the move to use a Breathing movement was expected by few for Tudor’s launch of its Black Bay Chronograph, it’s not very surprising considering that Breitling is considered ”the king” of chronographs, and has been praised for its chronograph movements.
The movement has a free-sprung adjustable mass balance and uses a silicon balance spring. A movement which uses a free-sprung balance is in theory less susceptible to variation in rate over time. The silicon provides a better resistance to external magnetic fields and thus increases the reliability of the movement.
The movement has shock protection on both the balance staff and the escape wheel and it beats at 28,800 vph. The biggest modification by Tudor is that the caliber has a 45 minute, rather than a 30 minute, chronograph register.
The use of this movement is in line with Tudor’s vision of adding another value proposition to its customers and to develop more in-house capabilities.
Oh, and the movement is also certified by the COSC as a chronometer.
It is also worth adding that in return for using Breitling’s movement, Breathing was allowed to use Tudor’s MT5612 caliber as a base movement.
Black Bay Chronograph specifications quick summary:
Brand: Montres Tudor SA
Reference number: 79350
Movement: MT5813, based on Breitling B01, automatic, 28,800 vph, 41 jewels, Incabloc shock absorption, screw- type fine regulation, approx. 70-hour power reserve, diameter = 30.4 mm, height = 7.23 mm
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph (central elapsed seconds, 45-minute counter), tachymeter track
Case: Stainless steel with a brushed and polished finish, water resistant to 200 meters
Bracelet and clasp: Integrated stainless-steel bracelet and additional fabric strap
Dimensions: Diameter = 41.48 mm, height = 14.79 mm, weight = 190 g
Variations: Available with a leather strap, steel bracelet, or fabric strap.
Retail price: about $5,050