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How Tudor Used the Black Bay and METAS Certification to Become an Beacon of Horological Quality

As Tudor’s state-of-the-art manufacture enters its second year as a resident of the Jura, we look at the brand’s decision to devote an entire floor of its facility to quality testing, including a lab dedicated to METAS certification. Was it genius or overkill?

By Ash Longet
PR & Business Development

As Watches and Wonders Geneva 2024 draws near, the chatter in horological circles isn’t just about Rolex; there’s a growing buzz around its Le Locle-based sibling, Tudor. Moreover, given the success of last year’s heritage-inspired, METAS-certified Master Chronometer Black Bay with its wildly attractive burgundy bezel, collectors are itching to see what design twists and movement innovations the brand has up its sleeve.

But before the tidal wave of horological excitement hits with the upcoming show, let’s dive deeper into what’s fueling the fervent anticipation surrounding the Black Bay family. Because, after its dozen years on the scene, I can’t help but wonder:

Has the Black Bay cemented its status as an icon? And if so, what’s been Tudor’s secret sauce in earning such acclaim?

Luckily, access to Tudor’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities has provided us with invaluable insights into the lineage of these iconic timepieces.

First Anniversary of Tudor’s Le Locle Manufacture

Last year, Tudor, established by Hans Wilsdorf as Montres Tudor SA in 1946, unveiled its groundbreaking new manufacture, marking a significant leap in its watchmaking journey because it was the very first industrial facility fully dedicated to Tudor watchmaking since its founding.

Located in the heart of the Jura Mountains, overlooking the tranquil Bied River, Tudor’s bold crimson edifice in Le Locle is far more than a mere building, it symbolizes Tudor’s strategic vision, positioning itself at the epicenter of the watchmaking world. The decision to build this facility was not only practical but strategic, bringing Tudor closer to its suppliers in the Jura Mountains, where specialized watchmaking expertise thrives.

Divided into two distinct sections, the facility comprises Tudor’s operations, including assembly, testing, and quality control, alongside Kenissi, Tudor’s sister company, responsible for movement manufacturing for Tudor and other renowned brands.

METAS: Precision Reigns Supreme

While many of my colleagues in the watch media have focused on how the new manufacture is cutting-edge and automation-friendly, I aim to spotlight a different facet of this facility: the METAS certification lab.

This unexpected saga started in 2021 with the Black Bay Ceramic, which was powered by the first Tudor-made movement to be certified by the Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), located in Bern. Fun Fact: METAS developed a new certification standard for wristwatches in 2015 in partnership with OMEGA.

Certified as a Master Chronometer, the Black Bay Ceramic’s movement – the in-house MT5602-1U automatic calibre – represented the logical progression of Tudor’s ongoing efforts to introduce increasingly advanced and innovative timepieces, and it was a deliberate decision to select the Black Bay collection as the inaugural line for METAS certification.

As a marketing strategy, it was kind of a genius move because, by leveraging the Black Bay’s widespread popularity among aficionados, Tudor ensured that the introduction of METAS certification would resonate deeply within the horological community, amplifying its impact and cementing its position as a leader in the field.

In practical terms, the Master Chronometer certification encompasses a comprehensive set of criteria, ensuring that a watch meets the highest standards. Notably, a Master Chronometer watch must operate within a daily variation range of 0 to +5 seconds, significantly surpassing the -4/+6 seconds precision tolerance of the COSC certification.

Moreover, the watch’s “life” undergoes rigorous testing and must align with the brand’s declared power reserve value. Another crucial criterion is resistance to magnetic fields, such as those produced by an MRI, of up to 15,000 gauss, exceeding levels typically encountered in a non-MRI technician’s daily life.

Furthermore, the watch’s waterproof capability is examined in order to meet the stringent requirements defined by the ISO 6425 standard for SCUBA-quality dive watches, which means it must withstand the pressure equivalent to 25 bars, far exceeding its stated 200m waterproof rating.

Black Bay 41 Burgundy and Future Plans

At this point, it’s pretty much undeniable that the Black Bay collection has been vital to Tudor’s impressive revival. However, the burgundy bezeled model unveiled at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023, in particular, played a pivotal role because it trimmed a millimeter off its thickness (making it a svelte 13.6mm), reduced the lug-to-lug distance to a compact 49.3mm, presented a whole new range of interchangeable bracelets, and achieved the METAS Master Chronometer certification.

As a result, this watch, which I like to call the “Black Bay Burgundy,” heralds a new era of innovation and vision for Tudor. And given Tudor’s recent investments in cutting-edge manufacturing facilities and unwavering commitment to horological excellence, it is reasonable to anticipate a comprehensive reimagining of the entire Black Bay range under METAS certification.

This strategic move would not only set an unprecedented benchmark for future releases but would also allow Tudor to continue expanding its burgeoning market presence.

For more information about the brand, check out Tudor’s website.

(Images © Tudor)

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