A First Look At The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition
Tudor is ushering in a new Bronze Age with this new boutique-only, naval-influenced Black Bay Fifty-Eight model.
Tudor is one of the most beloved brands in Swiss watchmaking. That is because it offers instantly recognizable designs and high-quality craftsmanship at a much lower price point than most luxury watchmakers. In the last decade, it has also emerged from the shadow of its parent company, Rolex, because it is more willing to take risks when it comes to materials, such as the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 released earlier this year.
That brings us to Tudor’s newest launch, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition – a tool watch that doubles down on the brown with a unique dial, bezel, and bracelet.
Here’s what makes this dive watch so desirable for anyone looking to invest in their first Tudor or bronze timepiece.
Bronze cases are fun because, as the material oxidizes, the patina evolves to match its wearer’s daily routines. Tudor even calls it a “living” metal for just that reason. That means the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition is meant to be actively worn, and the Tudor team has given careful consideration to every aspect of the design to ensure that this watch won’t end up sitting in a box.
The Black Bay is Tudor’s signature piece, and this iteration maintains the classic silhouette but in a comfortable 39mm bronze case. The material is a high-performance aluminum bronze alloy used in naval engineering for parts such as propellers to protect against underwater corrosion. This mix, as well as its satin-brushed finish, helps deliver a homogeneous development of the patina.
This case isn’t the only way the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition differentiates itself from the competition. Though Tudor’s exploration bronze in its collection stretches back for several years, this is the first time the brand has produced a bracelet entirely from bronze.
While the links mimic the style of Tudor bracelets from the 1950s and ‘60s, the 2021 version features a novel bronze clasp, satin-brushed like the rest of the bracelet and case, with a redesigned cover, and the Tudor “T-fit” rapid adjustment system for the length. This quick-change system is easy to use and needs no tools so that wearers can make fine, instant adjustments along the whole length of this 8mm bracelet. Plus, it will develop a patina at the same pace as the case.
Before the watch is delivered to its new owner, all handling is done using gloves and according to a specific workflow, particularly for waterproofness tests, between which each watch is entirely dried to preserve its new, non-patinated appearance. So once it’s on your wrist, the signature is all yours.
This bronze model is also aesthetically interesting. The Black Bay may be Tudor’s flagship model, but the brand has never been afraid to play on variations of its main themes. In this instance, the watch features the brand’s trademark “Snowflake” hands, coated with phosphorescent Super-LumiNova. But what really makes this iteration feel very noticeably different is the domed, shaded matte “brown-bronze” dial with applied hour markers and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.
The combination of the domed dial with its concentric shading and a bezel with the same gold accents on the hands and hour markers creates a finish that also changes as the light hits it. These subtle combinations of light and texture, historical references, and modern interpretations make the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition a joy to wear.
Function is also foremost in the presentation of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition. The watch comes with a complimentary fabric strap that is also a stylish tribute to the brand’s maritime heritage.
For decades Tudor made timepieces sans bracelet for members of the French Navy, who then fitted with their own straps. One of these straps, discovered on a period diving watch and conserved in the brand archives, was made of elastic recovered from a French rescue parachute. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition recognizes this relic’s central yellow thread on its “bronze-brown” jacquard strap.
This version of the strap is a little more durable, however. Woven in France on 19th century Jacquard looms by the Julien Faure company in the St-Etienne region, the comfort and quality of these bands are unique to Tudor.
In The House
One of the most significant developments in the Tudor story is its introduction of in-house calibres for its most important watches. Fun Fact: In 2015, the North Flag was the first Tudor watch with an in-house movement. Before then, they used ETA parts.
The Manufacture Calibre MT5400, which powers the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition, displays hour, minute, and second functions. And because it is meant to be an everyday wear, it is built to last. It is waterproof to 200m (660 ft), has a silicon hairspring, and has a variable inertia balance maintained by a sturdy traversing bridge with a two-point fixation to ensure robustness.
This year with the Black Bay Ceramic, Tudor introduced its first movement certified by the independent Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) as a Master Chronometer – a designation previously awarded only to Omega, a competitor. The Manufacture Calibre MT5400 is also certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), but its performance exceeds the standards set by this independent institute.
COSC allows an average variation of between -4 and +6 seconds in the daily running of a watch. Yet the MT5400 delivers between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its running when completely assembled.
And if you feel like taking the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition off for a few days, another notable feature of the Manufacture Calibre MT5400 is its 70-hour power reserve.
In-house mechanisms tend to drive prices up, but Tudor is keeping true to its mission of making affordable professional watches by keeping the flourishes to a minimum. The Manufacture Calibre MT5400 features an open-worked, satin-brushed, and sand-blasted rotor in tungsten monobloc. The bridges and main plate have alternate sand-blasted and polished surfaces along with laser decorations.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Boutique Edition is available exclusively in approximately 50 Tudor boutiques around the world and retails for $4,525.
For more information, visit Tudor’s website.
(Images © Tudor)