When the Tudor Black Bay GMT debuted this year at Basel it would’ve been easy to describe it as being overshadowed by the much-hyped Rolex GMT that was also showcased. But it’s not that simple. The Tudor is a hit in its own right, and I knew I had to have one. I had to wait half a year before I could get my hands on one and I can safely say that Tudor has once again reinforced their reputation as a brand to watch.
My first impression was … that it might be too big and therefore uncomfortable. The 41mm case, water resistant to 200m, which houses the amazing new manufacture MT5652 movement, is very thick, at 15mm top to bottom. I found the clever folks at Tudor have worked some subtle angles underneath the case sides and tapered the lugs in such an elegant fashion that the Black Bay GMT actually wears smaller than the dimensions suggest. My other initial thought was that this watch might be Tudor’s take on the Rolex GMT, but after my first full day of wear, it became clear that the Black Bay GMT was very much its own watch.
Once I put it on it felt … different from other Tudor Black Bay models I had worn before. Despite having a throwback aluminium bezel with numbers reminiscent of a Rolex 1675 GMT, the Black Bay GMT is notable in that it forgoes some of the faux patina of other BBs and embraces a pure tool watch ethos. The matt dial and bright (non-gilt) snowflake hands and markers make for amazing legibility. There is a cool feeling about the steel and utilitarian structure to behold when handling the Black Bay GMT.
Looks wise … this watch is chock-full of character. Of course, the bi-colour bezel is one of the main talking points of the GMT and it, too, has been infused with Tudor creativity. I feel Tudor could have just copied the bright “Pepsi” vintage 1675 bezel and still had a success on its hands; however, instead they made the red and blue so subdued that, in low lighting, sometimes I struggle to see any colour at all. The bezel’s charm is accented by the domed sapphire crystal which gives the face of the Black Bay GMT an interesting texture, and seemingly captures ambient light in a defined ring around the dial.
What stood out to me … as a long-time fan of Tudor’s parent company, I held the finishing and quality of the Black Bay GMT to a very high standard. There is absolutely no cost-cutting apparent with this watch. The bevelled lugs are one of many rich exterior details, and operating the big crown feels like a premium experience. Also impressive is that the MT5652 in-house movement matches the twice more expensive Rolex in power reserve, at 70 hours. When you switch between multiple timepieces through the week, this power reserve is extremely convenient.
I’d wear this with … not quite everything. The Tudor’s utility look is best with smart casual. I like to contrast the cool steel with a warm dark blue sweater cuff or my comfortable tweed sport coat and jeans. Leave the Rolex GMT, with the high-polish jubilee bracelet, to the suit and sport watch types.
If I could change anything … I could probably go without the rivets on the bracelet, as I find they contrast the high-quality industrial look of the watch too much. The Tudor is a fantastic watch at this price point so I feel slightly cheeky mentioning the lack of an easily adjustable clasp mechanism (à la Pelagos or Rolex’s Easylink extension). While extremely well-constructed, I find the clasp to be stubborn to open at times. Other Black Bay models have a painted Tudor flower logo on the top of the crown, where the GMT is stamped texture. I’m not sure this early on which I prefer. Lastly, that beautiful aluminium bezel is not nearly as easy to turn as the ceramic Rolex.
One month on … the Tudor Black Bay GMT has quickly become my go-to casual choice. I still keep finding great angles, and love the long-lasting power reserve when I just need to grab a watch and go. It is subtly upscale while setting the value bar unreachably high for quality at the price. It could just be all the GMT watch you ever need. Long live the snowflake.