Hands On with the Tudor Black Bay 54: King of Small Divers

Hands On with the Tudor Black Bay 54: King of Small Divers

This year at Watches and Wonders, Tudor released the Black Bay 54. This 37mm dive watch adopts the same vintage-inspired design philosophy as its larger sibling: the Black Bay 58. That said, the 54 occupies its own space. Aside from its smaller size, this watch is visually distinct from the Black Bay 58, primarily by means of omission. I was lucky enough to have some hands-on time with the Black Bay 54 at Tudor’s pop up shop in Geneva. Two weeks removed from its release, let’s take a closer look at the Black Bay 54: history; specifications; and market position.

Black Bay 54 Background

Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner 7922

Image Source: swisswatches-magazine.com

Of course, ‘54’ represents the year 1954, not the watch’s diameter. The Black Bay 54 takes after the Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7922 (pictured above): a 37mm watch that established Tudor’s line of divers. If you compare the two, you’ll notice many similarities. The Black Bay 54 maintains its ancestor’s general dial layout, rotating bezel with minute indices, Oyster case shape, and lack of crown guards. In contrast to the ref. 7922, the Black Bay 54 features a snowflake hour hand, updated shield emblem, and non-smiling bottom text (which makes me non-smile, too). This is less of an homage and more of an adaptation. The Black Bay 54 borrows from the ref. 7922’s vintage sizing and character but offers modern specifications and build quality.

What’s New with the Black Bay 54?


Tudor Black Bay 54 on rubber (left) and bracelet (right)

Image Source: tudorwatch.com Press Center

The Black Bay 54’s individuality comes from its size. A 37mm dive watch is small by today’s standards. With that, this watch is uniquely positioned due to its dimensions and capability. At 11.2mm thick, the Black Bay 54 boasts an impressive 200 meters of water resistance. Inside its slim case sits Tudor’s in-house caliber MT5400. This COSC-certified movement features 72 hours of power reserve and a slim profile, allowing the Black Bay 54 to achieve its svelte dimensions. 

Tudor Black Bay 54

Image Source: hodinkee.com

Tudor offers the Black Bay 54 on a bracelet or rubber strap, both featuring Tudor’s T-Fit clasp. This marvel of micro-adjustment is a big leg up on the Black Bay 58, which as of right now does not offer a T-Fit clasp. While we’re comparing the two, the Black Bay 54 omits the 58’s 0-15 minute indices on the bezel, as well as the red triangle at 0. While I hate to see these features go, their omission is historically accurate and visually appropriate given the Black Bay 54's smaller surface area.

Final Thoughts

Tudor Black Bay 54 on Wrist

The Black Bay 54 surprised me. Upon reading the dimensions and seeing pictures, I was challenged to rethink Tudor’s entire approach to the Black Bay collection (yet again). Until this point, I saw the Black Bay 58 as Tudor’s “smaller” dive watch offering. I didn’t expect them to go even smaller. That said, the 37mm diameter is perfect for a lot of people. This size fills a gap previously occupied by the likes of the Rolex Yacht-Master 37, the years-discontinued Omega Seamaster 300M 36.25mm, and a whole slew of small divers (many quartz-powered). It’s safe to say that the Black Bay 54 takes the crown for sub-38mm dive watches. Although I don't love it on my 6.75 in wrist, this is one of my favorite releases of 2023 so far. 

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