The Uniqueness of Tudor Black bay One
This year, for the first time in the company’s history, Tudor have provided a watch for the sixth biennial Only Watch auction - a unique reference 7923/001 Black Bay One.
All watch collectors have their grail watch and each collector has their own reason for wanting the elusive watch. For some it’s rarity, others the fact that the watch was issued for professional use (think MilSubs or Comex) or just simply the fact that it would be an aspirational acquisition.
There can be only one… There is certainly a pursuit by almost all watch collectors for unique pieces; possibly the ultimate ‘Holy Grail’. The sixth biennial Only Watch auction is being hosted by Phillips this year and features the usual line up of unique pieces that will be auctioned to support research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy and it is sure to attract a lot of attention.
The Black Bay was Tudor’s third release in their phenomenally successful Heritage line. Released at Baselworld in 2012 and then supplemented by an additional colour way in 2014, it was essentially a reinterpretation of the iconic Tudor Submariner reference 7922, the ‘Big Crown Sub’; a watch that was the grail for many Rolex and Tudor collectors. The first version of the Black Bay featured a gilt dial, no-crown-guard-case, big size winding crown, domed sapphire glass and red bezel insert. The 2014 release had a silver print dial and featured a blue insert, which was a nod to the illustrious heritage of the blue snowflake watches utilised by the French navy – the Marine Nationale.
Tudor released three no-crown-guard Submariners in the 1950s, the 7922 and 7924 which both featured the large 8mm winding crown and the workhorse calibre 390 automatic movement. Additionally, there was a very short run of a manual wind Submariner (the only non-automatic Submariner from the Wilsdorf stable) that was given reference number 7923. It was only produced in very small numbers and in fact very few pieces have survived, making it one of the rarest production model watches that Tudor made. It is this watch that inspired the Black Bay One and Tudor really have paid special attention to detail in creating this one off watch.
The new Black Bay One has taken some key characteristics from the original 7923 and it is the only time this watch has been produced without the legendary snowflake hands. Instead, the watch features yellow gold ‘pencil’ hands and a small-lollipop seconds hand (where the bubble appears on the tip of the seconds hand).
This detail was an important part of the 7923’s aesthetic and they have been faithfully reinterpreted here. One of my favourite touches is the red depth rating on the dial, above the SHOCK RESISTING. This is a classic 1950s Submariner feature that is both charming and striking in equal measure.
There is one thing for certain, the Black Bay One will draw a huge amount of attention and bids, as collectors fight to own one of the most significant Oyters ever to leave the Geneva factory!