The GMT watch is a watch that is quite popular on the market of watches. Dive watches, dress watches, and chronographs are popular, but there’s something special about a GMT watch.
The GMT watch first made a real imprint on the world when Rolex developed a watch for the Pan am pilots that needed help with keeping track of two time zones simultaneously, and since then, a lot has happened in the world of GMT watches, and now, most luxury watch brands offer GMT watches in their lineup of watches.
In 2018, Tudor was the next brand in line to introduce its first GMT watch in its lineup – the Tudor Black Bay GMT M79830RB-0001.
To collectors and wearers, GMT watches have a special appeal to them. While, to the untrained eye, they may look like any other watch, the movement of a GMT watch is more complicated to make as it features a fourth ”GMT” hand, and the bezel of the watch is different from any other type of watch as it features a bidirectional rotating bezel as opposed to a unidirectional rotating bezel, which you’ll find on a diver’s watch, for example.
Since the launch of the Tudor Black Bay GMT at Baselworld 2018, the GMT is a model that was an instant success. Of course, this is in no way surprising when you think about it.
Being the sister brand of Rolex, Tudor has shared a lot of things with Rolex. Now, since the relaunch of Tudor, it has been brand that has clearly worked to prove that it is strong enough to stand on its own legs and not lean on Rolex, but Tudor is, after all, founded by the same founder who founded Rolex, and this means that they share a similar story.
Now, why was the Tudor GMT such a huge instant success?
Well, because of many reasons, but the first reason is that the Tudor Black Bay GMT ”pays tribute” to the first GMT watch, which, coincidently was made by Rolex.
If you look at the Tudor GMT and the first Rolex GMT, you’ll find that there are many design features from the first GMT that can be seen in the modern Tudor watch.
Why does this matter?
This matters because collectors and watch lovers find watches with a history and a story far more appealing than watches that have been made on a blank sheet of paper – from scratch. And with the Rolex GMT watch being such an important watch in watchmaking innovation and the world of watches, the fact that Tudor has now made a modern iteration of that watch which is a nod to the past of its ”father” is something that adds a great depth of appeal and charm to the new Tudor Black Bay GMT.
Now, to understand just how important of a heritage piece the Tudor GMT is, let’s look at the first Rolex GMT watch:
Picture by fratellowatches
Now, let’s have a look at the Tudor Black Bay GMT:
Can you see a resemblence?
There are so many similarities between these watches, and with the Rolex GMT bakelite bezel being such an important piece, but also a highly sought-after piece by collectors today, fetching insane numbers at auctions, the Tudor Black Bay GMT is a far more obtainable timepiece that is still built upon the charm and appeal of the Rolex. In terms of design, The Tudor features a ”big crown” with no crown guards, just like the very first iteration of the GMT timepiece.
Secondly, and this is obviously the most obvious, is the bezel. The Tudor features, just like the Rolex, a blue and red bezel, which has, because of the color combination come to be known as ”pepsi” among collectors, and it’s very interesting that Tudor has chosen to make their first GMT watch with the pepsi bezel, because the first GMT watch by the parent company Rolex, also had the same color combination.
The Tudor GMT has a 48 notch bezel, with a 24-hour graduated anodized aluminum disc in “matt burgundy and blue”.
Furthermore, even the case of the Tudor is even distinctively similar to the Rolex GMT, and lastly, both of the watches also feature a rivet bracelet, which is something that Tudor began doing a few years after its relaunch because of the historic appeal of rivet bracelets.
Now, while the first GMT watch by Rolex and the Tudor GMT share a lot of similarities, there are quite a few things that differ between these pieces. First off, the Tudor Black Bay GMT does not feature a cyclops on the date window. Secondly, the Tudor is fitted with a completely different movement from Rolex’s GMT.
In fact, the Tudor GMT is fitted with a brand new in-house movement – a manufacture Tudor which we’ll go more into detail on later in this article. It may seem strange that we’re talking about the Rolex GMT watch in an article about Tudor, however, understanding that these brands have had a lot in common over the course of their early history is a major deal for understanding Tudor’s big step in designing a watch like the Black Bay GMT and giving it the design features it has.
Since its relaunch, Tudor has had a great success with its heritage models, which means building upon its heritage and historic watches and making renditions of them, but in designing a GMT watch, Tudor had no real watch that they could build upon from its history of watches, but its parent company, which it shared a lot with in the course of its early history did, with its model ref 6542, and due to their close relationship, no-one would complain about the watch being a ”Copy” or a ”homage”. More so the opposite, and find appeal in a ”re-edition”, and indeed people have.
Another interesting thing about the relationship between Rolex and Tudor is that, in the same year, in Baselworld watch fair 2018, Rolex also introduced a Pepsi GMT watch, with the introduction of the 126710BLRO, after an absence of the Pepsi variant in Rolex’s GMT lineup of watches since 2007, with the 16710. These two watches can both be seen as nods to each other since the two brands share an important history together, and while they have gone their separate ways today, their history remains.
Tudor Black Bay
As the name reveals, the Tudor Black Bay GMT is built on the extremely successful Black Bay line of Tudor, which means that it features a similar case design as its other watches in the black bay line. And it’s important to remember here that the range is actually called ”Heritage Black Bay”, which goes to show that the range is in fact built on Tudor’s heritage and history, and the fact that Tudor and Rolex were so close in terms of design in the beginning, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many of its watches have a lot in common with Rolex in terms of design.
Coming from the Black Bay line, it is built upon the format of their dive watches, which means that the GMT is built upon Tudor’s diver’s watch case shape and design that collectors have come to love too much, but what’s interesting about this is that in terms of case design, the Tudor GMT is similar to Rolex’s first GMT, but also Rolex’s first Submariner, as well as Tudor’s first submariner.
The reason is, as mentioned, that when Tudor was launched, it was essentially a Rolex watch, made with all parts Rolex, with the only difference being the dial and the movement that the watch was fitted with. As such, this is why Tudor can create heritage models on Tudor models that were made a long time ago, and they will resemble vintage Rolex watches, and the simple reason is the fact that in terms of case design and shape, they are essentially Rolex watches, and this is something that collectors find quite interesting.
Functionality and design features of the Tudor Black Bay GMT
The Tudor Black Bay GMT has a great functionality that is truly helpful – not just telling the time.
The Tudor GMT features a local jumping hour and a 24-hour hand which allows you to jump the main hour hand (displaying local time) in one-hour increments in either direction to change to a new time zone. What this allows you to do is keep the regular timekeeping since the movement doesn’t stop when you jump the hour hand, but also to preserve the timezone which was being managed by the 24-hour hand.
In terms of design, the GMT is, as mentioned, a design that has passed the test of time, and is built upon the heritage of vintage Rolex and Tudor designs.
Now, the Tudor GMT is very much a distinctive Black Bay model. It does, however, feature a larger case in order to fit the new in-house, more advanced GMT movement.
Like its companions within the GMT range, the case of the Tudor GMT is both brushed and polished. Its flanks are polished as well as the lug facet. The combination between polished and brushed gives the watch a tool watch look, which contributes making this was a versatile watch that looks just as good with a suit as an everyday watch.
The case is approximately 41mm wide and 15mm thick. The watch is 50mm lug to lug.
The watch has a very solid feel to it, and it’s certainly not a watch that feels poor quality, but rather, it feels rugged and solid, which is great since it gives the feeling that you get great value for money – which you do.
The GMT features a large screw-down crown which is easy to manage since the watch doesn’t feature any crown guards.
Just like the other watches in the Black Bay range, the Tudor Black Bay GMT is water resistant to 200 meters, which further makes this was a great all-around piece.
When it comes to the bezel, it is the thing that is maybe most definable for a GMT watch. The Tudor GMT features a bi-directional 24-hour bezel in blue and red, and if you wonder why many GMT watches, including the Tudor GMT, features a two-colored bezel, it is to make it easier to distinguish between night and day.
Unlike Rolex (we have to talk about Rolex because the new Tudor GMT and Rolex’s GMT history share so much), Tudor features an aluminum bezel and not a ceramic bezel which Rolex’s modern GMT watches do. At the same time, Rolex did, in fact, use aluminum bezels before they introduced their cerachrom bezels.
In terms of color, the Tudor Pepsi color is quite different from Rolex’s.
While Rolex’s blue and red bezel is bright and strong in color, Tudor has gone the more discreet route, making the watch less bold. Also, the aluminum, as opposed to a ceramic bezel, makes for more of a tool watch, which adds to the character of the Black Bay GMT.
Just like the other models in the Black Bay range, the GMT features a matte black dial which gives the watch more character, and which looks beautiful in the sunlight.
Furthermore, the dial features largely applied markers and Tudor’s iconic snow-flake hand – both for the GMT hand and the second hand. Some people mean that it becomes a little too much, but the majority of people are appealed by the historic importance of the snowflake hand and thinks it makes the watch ”more Tudor”. The GMT hand is made in a bright red color which makes it instantly noticeable.
To make the watch more usable, the GMT features a date window which offers quite a good legibility, but obviously not as good as if you were to use Rolex’s iconic cyclops. At the same time, many people prefer to have without the Cyclops from an aesthetic standpoint.
If you have worn or own a regular Black Bay, the Tudor Black Bay GMT will feel familiar on your wrist.
It wears similarly to other in-house Black Bay models and has almost a ”bubble back-style cassock” which is not flat like the ETA Black Bat models, now discontinued.
It’s quite a chunky watch, but it feels very solid and quality, which is great if you like to feel that you have a watch on your wrist. Obviously, changing from the bracelet to a NATO-strap and maybe even leather strap will make the watch neater and lighter, sitting less chunky on your wrist – even though the bracelet is very comfortable.
Tudor Black Bay GMT Movement
With the introduction of the Tudor Black Bay GMT also came a brand new in-house movement by Tudor – a Manufacture Tudor.
This was the Tudor MT5652 movement. It is a full-size movement in Tudor’s range of in-house movements, and obviously features a GMT function that enables a third hand. The GMT function is integrated as opposed to modular, and this allows the movement to be just as the standard Black Bay models.
The movement is COSC certified, which can be seen on the watch’s dial, printed ”chronometer officially certified”.
The movement has a 70-hour power reserve and beats at 4Hz. The movement has a silicon balance spring along with bi-directional winding.
It is equipped with 27 jewels and is 31.8mm.
The in-house movement adds another level of the value proposition to the Tudor GMT because not only does this go to show that Tudor is a brand to rely on, not only a brand that uses off-the-shelf movements, but also that they go above and beyond to develop their own movements.
The movement is also a great value proposition when considering the price of the Tudor GMT. On the market, it’s rare to find GMT watches that feature in-house movements, and this sets Tudor apart from its competitors in the same segment because Tudor’s in-house movement has proven to be both reliable and accurate.
Using an in-house movement as opposed to using an ETA movement is a clever choice by Tudor because ETA or other movement manufacturers make movements that have a Local Jumping Hour function. A lot of development went into making the in-house Tudor GMT movement, and since Tudor is quite new to the development of own in-house movements, they’ve taken help and expertise from Rolex.
Bracelet options of the Tudor Black Bay GMT
The Tudor Black Bay GMT is available with different bracelet configurations. This also affects the price of the watch.
It is available on a rivet bracelet, NATO-strap, and leather strap. The rivet bracelet is a nod to the past as it an element present on vintage watch bracelets, however, the rivets are ”faux” and have been debated whether they’re nice or not. Most people, however, seem to be fond of the rivet bracelet as it adds character to the watch.
The bracelet is very solid and feels high quality. Its clasp is solid and holds the bracelet to your wrist. The bracelet sits very comfortably on the wrist, and it has three micro adjust points.
The leather bracelet is soft and sits comfortably on the wrist, and has a deployment buckle which has a great finish.
The Tudor Black Bay GMT is also available on a fabric NATO-strap. The NATO-strap is high-quality, just like all other Tudor’s straps which you may be familiar with. They’re very durable and will manage every challenge you throw at it. The good thing about the NATO-strap is it allows you to easily adjust the size of the strap to perfectly fit your wrist, which is a little more difficult to do with the bracelet. Changing the size of the leather strap can also be done effortlessly within a few seconds.
Now, which of these straps should you choose?
Well, the most common decision is to get the Tudor GMT on the bracelet, because this gives you the opportunity to change it whenever you feel like doing so, and buying the bracelet version is not much more expensive than buying it on a leather bracelet.
The lume on the Tudor Black Bay GMT is, as you would expect, great. It’s strong, and distinguishing the different hands in darkness is easy, which means you won’t mix up, say the GMT hand with any of the other hands.
The price is a big deal when it comes to the Tudor Black Bay GMT. Why? Well, because considering that you get a COSC in-house movement GMT watch, made by a brand that has a rich history, and that makes great quality watches built on heritage, you get great value for money.
The Black Bay GMT retails for $3900 on a bracelet and $3,575 on a strap. That’s a very competitive price if you are looking at other similar GMT watches with an in-house movement and that hold the same quality and standard as the Tudor.
At the price of the Tudor GMT, you get a great GMT watch for your money, and this is also part of the reason why the Tudor GMT has proven to be such an immensely popular watch. The closest competitors to the Tudor GMT are actually quite far away in price, which makes he Tudor a given choice for a GMT watch in that price range.