Is Tudor challenging a major Swiss Watch Brand with the Black Bay Ceramic?
Breaking down the new Tudor Black Bay Ceramic and why it’s a game changer for the brand.
At this point, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the award for most hype-generating watch brand goes to Tudor. They’re taking the crown when it comes to creating buzz, utilizing social media like no other in teasing new releases ahead of time. This week was no different as for days we have all been anticipating the release of something new and exciting. The speculation was everywhere, but I don’t think any of us were truly ready for what came next and how much Tudor has elevated themselves in the world of watchmaking.
On what would regularly be just another #speedytuesday, many of us here in the States woke up to something quite different and unexpected. Flooded all over our social media feeds was the new Tudor Black Bay Ceramic. No stranger to playing with alternative metals as earlier this year, the brand gave us both a gold and a sterling silver Black Bay Fifty-Eight, this newest offering from the brand partners the already well loved Tudor Black Bay with a new ceramic case. But that’s not the only surprise as Tudor also launched a new movement that seems aimed to challenge legendary Swiss manufacturer OMEGA (but we’ll get more into that later).
Matte Ceramic Case
Let’s first talk about the obvious - a new material permanently added to the Black Bay collection. The watch keeps the same measurements that we have become accustomed to within the Black Bay collection (41mm diameter, 14.4mm thick, and just about 50mm lug to lug).
What is special about this new Black Bay is the fact that it will be the first regular produced variation of the watch with a ceramic case. The matte ceramic case features a surface finish that is sand blasted which gives a stunning contrast to the mirror polished beveled edges, creating a sexy set of angular lines that give a traditionally bland looking material a new world of personality.
Partnered with the new ceramic casebody is a steel bezel that has been PVD coated (with the same process being true for the crown). While it maintains the “all black aesthetic”, personally I’m not sure how I feel about the long term wearability with two of the most traditionally highly worn areas of the watch being PVD coated instead of ceramic, but only time will tell how it holds up. All in all, Tudor nailed the aesthetic here. They even gave us another sapphire caseback! And this time, it’s to show off something special.
An Updated Movement
The Tudor Black Bay Ceramic is powered by an updated movement, the MT5602-1U. While technically not a completely new calibre, this automatic three hand movement boasts the brand’s impressive 70 hour power reserve and five year warranty. But it has a few special features up it’s sleeve as well. Firstly, it’s as stealthy as the rest of the watch with a specialized all black finish including a Tungsten rotor.
Upon further inspection you might discover something a bit more precious (with a hint of it written right there on the dial), “Master Chronometer”. I think it’s safe to say that many of us are familiar with COSC certifications on watches but for those who may be a little newer, COSC is essentially an independent testing facility that certifies the accuracy of watch movements submitted by brands (used by most every major watch brand in the industry). So if Tudor watches were already certified for their accuracy, what does “Master Chronometer” really do?
What is Master Chronometer Certification?
To answer this, we have to give credit to the originator of Master Chronometer Certification, OMEGA. In 2018, OMEGA partnered with independent Swiss measurement agency METAS to create a new, more stringent way to certify watches. No longer was the brand willing to accept the widely used COSC certifications that test only the movements of watches for their accuracy. In developing this new certification, it was determined that every movement sent in had to pass a higher series of standards: magnetic resistance (watches have to be completely unaffected by magnetic fields), accuracy (COSC certification requires a watch to run from -4/+6 seconds per day, METAS criteria is 0/+5), shock absorbency equal to 5,000g, and water resistance.
Unlike COSC, this new form of certification required both the movement to pass these tests and the finished cases of the watch as well. This new criteria was game-changing for both OMEGA who had been pushing the boundaries when it comes to movement manufacturing as well as for the watch industry as a whole, opening up this new certification to any watch brand that wished to apply. It took three years, but someone else finally did…
Is Tudor Challenging OMEGA?
The Black Bay Ceramic is a great looking watch, don’t get me wrong. But I’m most fascinated by the fact that Tudor has stepped up to the level of OMEGA and created a movement that is completely resistant to magnetism, something very few brands (including “big brother Rolex”) have tackled themselves. The METAS certification also guarantees that this watch will not run slow, another problem by so many others in the watch industry.
Considering Rolex has their own “Superlative Chronometer”, my mind just sits here and wanders as to why they chose to go through METAS instead of using the certification that they have access to. Is Tudor challenging OMEGA? Both brands are well known for their value proposition as being some of the best made watches in their price points, with OMEGA always a bit ahead as the brand has spent years deservingly boasting about their METAS certified movements.
And it would be a shame not to point out that the first watch Tudor launches this new movement in happens to be eerily similar to one of OMEGA’s 2021 novelties. Seems to me like Tudor is making big moves in the market. It will be curious going forward to see how this new Tudor announcement plays out and affects the market positing of both these brands.
Is Tudor Entering the Big Leagues?
Overall, whether you love or hate the watch, I think it’s safe to say that the days of referring to Tudor as the “Rolex little brother” are just about over. The brand has proven time and time again in recent years that they deserve their own spotlight, and they’re clearly positioning themselves to compete heavily with the more established and traditionally respected Swiss watch brands. It would not surprise me in the least if you start to see prices of Tudor gradually increase, so if you’ve been on the fence, it is most definitely something to consider soon. Then be sure to accessorize it with one of our many strap options!
By: K. Wells
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