Editor’s note: Colour is great, but sometimes all you need is the pure simplicity of unvarnished (but very nicely brushed) steel. Which is exactly what the pared-back Black Bay Steel offers. In spades.
The story in a second: When the going gets tough, wear a Black Bay Steel.
Did you know that this year the Black Bay family is five years old? Well, it is, and the fundamental design isn’t showing any signs of flagging. Case in point is this watch, which represents the Black Bay stripped back to its essentials. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel.
There’s not too much to be said about the case of the Black Bay Steel that hasn’t already been said about every other Black Bay. It’s steel, it’s 41mm across and has those high, smooth sides that make the Black Bay such an easy watch to spot from under a cuff — though it must be said the big Tudor rose on the crown is a bit of a giveaway, too. The real point of difference here is, as you’d expect, the bezel. The watch takes its name from the radially brushed steel bezel, and while in style and design it’s unchanged from other Black Bay bezels, this simple bezel gives the Black Bay Steel a different look and feel to other members of the Black Bay clan. To me it feels much more purposeful and tool-like, less fashion-oriented. I keep finding myself using ‘military’ to describe it, for no really good reason, except perhaps the combination of purposeful feel and that excellent green fabric strap.
Again, no new ground is being broken on the dial front, with one notable exception. Those big markers, that snowflake hand, the Tudor shield. All is as it should be, down to the red line of text and COSC indication. But wait, what’s that at three? A date! Dates made their appearance on the Steel, S&G and Chrono.
Like pretty much all the modern Black Bays (excepting the 36 and 41), the BB Steel has Tudor’s sweet in-house tech under the hood, meaning you get COSC-quality timing, 70-odd hours of power and some silicon tech.
Really, this section should be called: the bracelet, the band and the strap, because I’ve tried it out on all three. And of those three I love the look on the rivet-style strap — which is one of the best stock straps at this price point, btw — and the woven fabric strap is always a winner, but the combination of green and steel (with red highlights) is exceptional. I’m not quite so sold on the aged leather strap, which pushes the ‘heritage’ boat out a little too far for my liking, but having said that, the Black Bay does, in general, look great on leather straps.
On the wrist
That bezel does a really excellent job of changing how this watch feels on the wrist. If I had a watch roll full of Black Bays, I’d wear the red or the black at work, and the steel would very quickly become my go-to casual or weekend Bay. It’s the sort of watch that you’re not afraid to get dirty and I think that’s partially the psychological effect of how the watch looks, and partially because I’d be less paranoid about how scratches would look on that steel bezel.
So, it’s a bit of a big call, but I reckon this is my favourite Black Bay. It’s a deeply personal preference, and there’s still much room in my heart (and wrist) for other versions — especially the red (oh, and the bronze), but that’s how it is. I like my dive watches on the less dressy end of the spectrum and the Black Bay Steel more than delivers on that front.
Is your steel radially brushed?
Who’s it for?
Black Bay owners who are looking for a more casual offering, or people who dig both Tudor and tactical style.
What we would change?
You know what, I would pay good money to see this watch with a GMT bezel. Hotness.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel Australian pricing
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel, on leather $4160, on bracelet $4540