Editor’s note: With the announcement of Tudor’s ceramic Black Bay for Only Watch 2019, we found our minds turned, inexplicably, to the darker things in life. And while the chances of owning that dark phantom are slender, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark is a much more achievable goal …
The story in a second:
It’s time you met the dark horse of the Black Bay family.
After four years of tantalising, tactical releases culminating in the near-perfect surprise announcement of the Black Bay Black last year, we weren’t expecting a new Black Bay in 2016. Well, we were wrong. Tudor gave us not one, but three completely new takes on its modern classic (and updated all the existing models to boot). So now, in addition to the colourful trio of red, blue and black, we’ve got the mighty bronze, the petite 36 and today’s subject, the midnight-hued Black Bay Dark.
The first thing you notice about the Dark is how apt the name is. It’s a starkly monochromatic watch, the black and white colour scheme only relieved with the occasional flash of red. Of course the dial and bezel are big parts of this picture, but it’s the black PVD case that cements the unrelenting blackness of the watch, making the straight sides and slabby lugs of the 41mm case seem more imposing, almost monolithic. PVD is a widely used technique for making black cases, but recently it’s lost favour to ceramic cases, as ceramic is even harder and a scratch won’t reveal the bright steel underneath. For more on how black watch cases are made, check out our handy guide.
At first glance, not too much has changed when it comes to the dial and bezel; they’re classic Black Bay, featuring the red triangle at 12 that was introduced on the Black Bay Black, a lonely flash of colour reflected on the depth rating text on the dial. On second glance, you realise that gone is the historic rose logo, and in its place is the shield. For me the distinctly old-school printed rose was one of the highlights of the Black Bay, and I’m a little sad to see it relegated to the watch’s crown. But I can see why Tudor would want to keep their branding consistent across the board. The other change is that the text at six is now straight instead of curved, and we’ve gone from one line to three. The inclusion of depth rating and COSC status are a significant visual change, and make the Black Bay feel more like its grown-up brother, the Rolex Submariner.
The other major upgrade that the entire Black Bay family received this year was that they’re now powered by Tudor’s own MT5602 instead of the ETA 2824. Aside from adding a little extra cachet to the watch, the main benefits to wearers are the superior silicon escapement, the robust traversing bridge, variable inertia balance and, most notably, the 70 hours of power reserve.
As is usual with Tudor’s heritage line, the Dark comes with a range of strap options. The black bracelet is the most imposing option, really amping up the tactical vibes of the watch, but it also comes with distressed leather and woven grey straps, both of which provide some welcome textural contrast.
I’m generally not one for full black-on-black watches these days — they can be so serious, so grim — but I was surprised how much I dug this on the wrist. Perhaps it’s thanks to the slightly carefree spirit captured by the entire Black Bay line, but I didn’t find the Dark possessed the same degree of pseudo-military chic so many other blacked-out watches strive for.
Oh, you didn’t see I was wearing a watch? Probably because it’s so stealthy.
Who’s it for?
The Black Bay Dark is the perfect choice for those who want their heritage-inspired diver with a hint of menace.
What would we change?
It would have been nice if the rose logo stayed on the dial.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark Australian pricing
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Dark on leather, $4950, and on bracelet, $5300
Original images by Jason Reekie.