Tudor 2023 Predictions: Black Bay Movement Overhaul

Tudor 2023 Predictions: Black Bay Movement Overhaul

Tudor’s Black Bay collection began with just one watch: the Heritage Black Bay Ref. 79220R. In many ways, this release established Tudor’s modern identity: cementing their historic design language separate from that of Rolex. Today, the ‘Black Bay’ name encompasses nine separate categories with 100+ variations. Such a large collection – while desirable for the consumer – requires frequent upkeep from the brand. As new movements are introduced, existing models require updating or discontinuation. This is where the Black Bay collection sits today. Multiple models are due for movement upgrades. Tudor’s caliber MT5402, debuted in the Black Bay 58, boasts slim dimensions and impressive specifications. Widespread adoption of this movement would bring consistency across the Black Bay collection, and could potentially slim down some chunkier models. Could Watches and Wonders 2023 see a movement overhaul from Tudor? Which models need it the most? Before we get into predictions, let’s discuss the reasoning behind these upgrades.

Tudor Movements: Out with the Old, In (House) with the New

Blue dial Tudor Black Bay 32, 36, and 41 side by side

Image Source: monochrome-watches.com

Without getting lost in the semantics of “in-house”, it’s worth mentioning that Tudor’s MT54XX calibers are produced by a manufacturer called Kenissi. Originally created by Tudor, Kenissi has become a joint venture alongside Breitling and Chanel. They provide movements to a number of brands, all of which are derived from Tudor’s in-house MT56XX platform. 

First in line for an upgrade is the Black Bay 32/36/41 category (pictured above), identified by their smooth fixed bezels. These no-frills, time-only, dive-inspired watches are the only Black Bays without MT (in-house) calibers. Instead, they use the ETA-based (pre-2020) or Sellita-based (post-2020) caliber T600. While the T600 is a fine movement, it has some outdated specs: 38 hours of power reserve, Nivaflex hairspring, and lack of COSC certification. The MT5402 would remedy all of this: 70 hours of power reserve, silicon hairspring, and chronometer certification. Teddy Baldassare recently described this upgrade as a “no-brainer” for Tudor. The Black Bay 32/36/41 watches are fairly slim to begin with (~11mm), so an upgrade to the MT5402 probably wouldn’t make them any thinner. 

three varitations of the Tudor Black Bay Heritage 41mm

Image Source: monochrome-watches.com

Second in line for an upgrade is the Tudor Black Bay (pictured above), commonly referred to as the Black Bay Heritage or Black Bay 41, but not to be confused with the fixed-bezel Black Bay 41. This 41mm offering is the heart of the Black Bay line, but still utilizes the brand’s first in-house movement from 2015: the caliber MT5602. This movement is COSC-certified (-4/+6 sec per day), but is not further regulated to -2/+4 seconds per day like the newer MT5402. Additionally, the MT5602 is fairly thick, contributing to the Black Bay’s considerable 14.75mm height. This upgrade would not only increase accuracy, it would enable a case re-design to bring down the 41mm Black Bay’s 14.75mm thickness. This would be perfect for those who like the Black Bay 58’s slim profile but prefer a 41mm diameter. As of today, the original Black Bay is more expensive than a Black Bay 58 (both on bracelets), despite its categorically inferior movement and chunkier dimensions. 


Tudor Black Bay 41mm vs Tudor Black Bay 58 thickness

Image Source: monochrome-watches.com

The majority of the Black Bay collection uses MT56XX movements: the Black Bay, Black Bay Bronze, Black Bay Pro, P01, GMT, and 31/36/39/41 S&G. All of these watches are 14-15mm thick, a significant presence on the wrist for most people. While an upgrade to the MT54XX family would be a welcome addition to any and all of these models (time-only for now), I predict we will see it in the Black Bay 32/36/41 and 41mm Black Bay models first. The T600 caliber in the Black Bay 32/36/41 is simply a class below Tudor’s in-house offerings; these watches most urgently need a movement upgrade. I predict that Tudor will make this change somewhat quietly; it’s not the most exciting announcement and most people are expecting it. The 41mm Tudor Black Bay’s MT5602 is way ahead of the T600, but not as good as the MT5402. The core Black Bay offering should sport the latest technology, especially considering its price point. I predict that Tudor will slim down the 41mm Black Bay upon its adoption of the MT5402. Pictured above are the profiles of the 41mm Black Bay (top) and Black Bay 58 (bottom). If these upgrades don’t happen at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023, I’m confident that they will happen soon after. Whatever Tudor decides to release at Watches and Wonders, I’ll be there to cover it here on the Everest Journal.

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