Having a versatile dive watch in a collection is deemed an essential for many watch collectors. After all, something that is water-resistant to 200 meters and has a rotating bezel for timing steaks is crucial for the modern man or woman, who also needs to look the part wearing a business casual outfit.
Photo courtesy of Millenary Watches
The Rolex Submariner is perhaps the most well-known watch there is. Until 2020, the case hit that sweet spot at 40mm. The new upstart in this category is the Tudor Black Bay 58, which comes in 39mm wide, 11mm thick and 47mm lug-to-lug, and, of course, comes from the lineage of the Rolex family.
CAN THE LESS EXPENSIVE BLACK BAY 58 COMPETE WITH THE VENERABLE SUB?
At the time of this publication, both watches are hard to get through the regular authorized dealer route, but watch collectors will find a way and perhaps choose to pay a premium on the secondary market. For comparison’s sake, we’ll be discussing the original no-date version of a modern Submariner (14060, 114060 or 124060). If you need a date complication, the BB58 currently does not offer one.
Photo courtesy of Reddit user u/YTSHorology
That said, we believe that if you choose to go with the Black Bay 58, in either the black with gilt accents or the newer navy blue model, you won’t be missing out if you can’t obtain a modern Submariner. Unless you need to have the Rolex brand name on the dial, which we understand, you might find the Black Bay 58 a replacement that more than holds its own in this versatile dive watch category.
The Black Bay 58 has many traits that many might favor over the modern Submariner. First of all, the Black Bay 58 does not have crown guards. This is a major plus for those who are seeking a vintage diver look in a modern watch. There are vintage Subs without crown guards, but let’s just leave it at a good find in this category is cost-prohibitive for most people.
The MT-5402 movement inside the BB58 from Tudor is COSC-certified and offers 70 hours of power reserve and features a silicon balance spring. So what’s powering the Tudor diver is more than likely going to satisfy the most ardent movement snobs out there.
Perhaps the most important trait of the Black Bay 58 is that its looks stand out on its own. Sure, the model is inspired by Tudor 7924 Big Crown Diver released in 1958, but the modern diver mixes the brand’s signature Snowflake hands with circular hour markers. The overall look is distinct and careful, and knowledgeable observers would never mistake the Black Bay 58 for another watch.
Let’s just acknowledge that a Rolex Submariner is a classic for a reason. It may be one of the best designed objects across any category. So if you know you must have a Submariner, either aluminum or ceramic bezel insert models, don’t settle.
Another reason you might not think the Black Bay 58 is a suitable replacement is because of the color scheme. Some might grow tired of the gilt accents of the black version, and the navy version might not be versatile enough to fill that single versatile diver slot.
The other consideration is the bracelet. The newer ceramic Submariners come with an incredible solid Oyster bracelet with its Glidelock clasp with tool-less adjustibilty. The slightly older 14060 comes with the rattly Oyster bracelet, which some collectors prefer. You can integrate the clasp with Everest’s deployant style watch bands that you can find here or skip the clasp all together for a tang buckle style here. The Black Bay 58 bracelet features fake rivets for a vintage look, which may be a non-starter for some.
Lastly, as we mentioned before, the Black Bay 58 mixes the sharp angles of the Snowflake hour hand against circular dial markers. To some, these elements do not blend well.
Photo courtesy of Millenary Watches
No good comparison article ends with a toss-up. In 2020 the Everest Journal believes that the Black Bay 58 can fill that single slot for a versatile dive watch over a Submariner. Tudor has nailed it and unless you are set on owning a Submariner, we feel strongly that you won’t be disappointed with choosing the ultra-hot BB58.
While we don’t have replacement straps yet for the Black Bay 58, check our line off curved end straps for the original Black Bay here. For instance, if you aren’t a fan of the Tudor snowflake hands, you can soften the strong snowflake hands’ presence with an Everest rubber watch band. The orange really plays off the details of the markers and indices as you can see below. Perfect color for a dive watch!
Or, if you’re looking to play up the snowflake hands because they’re a favorite feature of yours - check out how well the Everest black rubber watch band makes the hands shine.