Tudor added a new bronze model to its Heritage Black Bay collection in 2016. Like its predecessors, this dive watch dips into its history with a material that appeals to contemporary tastes.
By Martina Richter and Mark Bernardo | Tudor added a new bronze model to its Heritage Black Bay collection in 2016. Like its predecessors, this dive watch dips into its history with a material that appeals to contemporary tastes.
The 43-mm bronze case of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay makes aesthetic reference to a material that was once used for ships and diving equipment. But the aluminum and copper alloy used for its case is not exactly like the historical material, since bronze is generally a tin-bronze alloy. The aluminum bronze used here is a product of modern metallurgy: Tudor calls it a “high-performance alloy.” And it still develops a patina over time that gives it an individual look – a primary reason for creating a bronze-cased watch in the first place.
High performance is exactly what this Tudor’s case offers. Brushed finishes overall make it virtually nonreflective, and water resistance to 200 meters makes it suitable for diving. The caseback is threaded and is made of bronze-tone Pvd-coated stainless steel. On the front, a unidirectional dive bezel of anodized aluminum with golden numerals and line markers completes the ensemble. Deep grooves make the bezel easy to grasp. It can be depressed slightly, but even without the spring-loaded suspension, it’s easy to turn, and it exhibits perfect tactile
and acoustic clicks set in one-minute increments.
While the bezel is a new development at Tudor, other design elements take their cues from the brand’s history, like the continuous drilled holes on the lugs and their distinctive sloping edges, and the famous Reference 7924 “Big Crown” from 1958 with its rose engraving from the early Tudor emblem. The large crown is easily released from its securely locked position, and the manual winding, hand setting and re-connection lock in a sturdy tube.
THE TUDOR’S DIAL, whose color coordinates well with the bronze tones of the watch, as well as the dramatically domed front crystal, were modeled after the first Tudor dive watches. Both strongly reinforce the retro feeling of this watch. The time is always very easy to read behind the anti-glare sapphire crystal. During daylight, the numerals, line markers and
striking “snowflake” hands appear beige, while at night, everything glows a deep, saturated green. The snowflake hands originated on watches that were supplied to the French Navy in the 1970s: it can be said that functionality is this watch’s military duty. The hands are easy to distinguish and, therefore, perfect for diving. The long, slim minutes hand coordinates well with the divers’ bezel, and the glowing diamond shape on the end of the seconds hand serves as a function check when visibility is not optimal. As it makes its way around the dial, tracing its way along the hour markers, the precisely engineered design – like the diamond in the hour hand or the length of the minutes hand – reveals its importance. It is masterful geometry in the service of time measurement.
The Heritage Black Bay Bronze is the beneficiary of Tudor’s in-house Caliber MT5601. This movement has a larger diameter and is a variation especially developed for this Heritage model.
The movement measures 33.8 mm in diameter (in contrast to the 31.8 mm of the Caliber MT5602, Tudor’s first in-house movement, which was developed for the Heritage Black Bay and the
Heritage Black Bay Dark models) and 6.5 mm high, so it’s no small thing and hints at the stability of the structures beneath. This is essential due to the forces exerted from the barrel to make a power reserve of 70 hours possible.
THE BALANCE IS supported securely beneath a bridge. It vibrates at a rate of 4 Hz with a variable moment of inertia and a silicon hairspring. A balance screw is provided for fine regulation and at a level that earns it a chronometer rating – the MT5601 was awarded a Cosc-certified chronometer certificate. The Heritage Black Bay Bronze showed balanced rate results on our timing machine – in the various positions as well as over the diminishing power reserve. On the wrist, the results were even better: a gain of not quite 2 seconds per day.
For daily wear, the Heritage Black Bay Bronze can be fastened to the wrist with a distressed leather strap. Its rough style and angular pronged bronze buckle provide a rustic look and a secure and comfortable fit. The watch also comes with an additional green-and-beige fabric strap that is a clever nod to the sailors of the French Navy who – when they received supplies of strapless Tudor watches in the 1970s – crafted unique, mostly handmade straps to attach the case to the wrist. One of these vintage straps was an elastic band from a parachute that had a distinctive yellow stripe running down its center. This was the descendent of our test watch’s textile strap.
Although the textile strap on our test watch wasn’t elastic, we thought perhaps it should have been to allow for variable adjustment while diving. The strap extension within the pronged buckle (also made of bronze) is difficult to use. Otherwise, there is hardly anything to complain about on this dive watch, except maybe the lack of a date display.
The engraved rose on the screw-down crown is from the early Tudor emblem and the “snowflake” hands can be traced back to the 1970s.
The abbreviation “MT” in the caliber name “MT5601” indicates its high manufacture quality. The sturdy Tudor Caliber MT5601 remains hidden behind a solid threaded caseback.
The Heritage Black Bay Bronze comes with both a leather strap and a textile strap.
This dive watch is water resistant to 200 meters and is easy to read under all light conditions.