Photo by Hodinkee
When Tudor came out with the original burgundy Black Bay in 2012, it burst onto the scene as the ETA-fueled, relatively affordable alternative to higher priced dive watches. The aged leather strap and deep burgundy bezel showcased the vintage-inspired trend that was soon to become a significant genre for dive watches. Musician and watch collector John Mayer even wrote about the black dial version for Hodinkee as the entry point for being a real “watch guy.”
He wrote: “While I love a good heavy hitting vintage piece as much as anyone, I’ve long been an advocate for eliminating the perceptual five-figure buy-in when it comes to someone who wants to become a Watch Guy without having to make any major concessions.”
Those are strong words for any watch, let alone something that has a relatively short history in watch terms. Inspired by old Tudor divers of the past, but able to stand alone on its own merits, the Tudor Black Bay became the brand’s runaway commercial success.
Photo by Millenary Watches
In spite of its success, many found the original Black Bay (at 41mm) to have many faults. In addition to noting the tall slab sided case, Worn & Wound founder Zach Weiss, wrote in his review: “In short, I found the use of a Snowflake hand with circular markers odd, and the use of a very modern case appeared to play against the heritage concept.”
Photo by Millenary Watches
A lot of folks felt the original was a bit too big overall. This, of course, was addressed by Tudor with the introduction of the Black Bay 58 in March of 2018. With a 39mm case and 11.9mm case height (as opposed to the 14.75mm case height of the originals) the 58 has arguably become one of the hottest watch designs in the last five years.
Not to be ignored, there is the Black Bay family without the rotating bezel, which offers 32, 36 and 41mm options. But these aren’t for that buyer who wants a classic diver, which requires a rotating timing bezel.
So where does this leave the original bigger Black Bay? They are readily available on the secondhand market at good prices, but in 2021 with the more aesthetically pleasing and better scaled 58 available, is there a place for the OG Black Bay (now with in-house movement)?
The original burgundy version is the most desirable model of the originals in my opinion. It has its place in history and the striking colorway is not available in any other incarnation. Paired on the matching burgundy fabric strap, this one still stands out in a crowded field of vintage inspired divers.
But with the new Black Black chronograph and the popular GMT model there’s just too many shiny new objects in this family to allow the original big Black Bays to maintain its relevance for those seeking to add a new watch to their collection.
Any original Black Bay owners who love theirs? Let us know why in the comments section.
Purchase straps for your original Black Bay watches here.