The Inspiration For The Tudor Black Bay 58
At inception, the Tudor Black Bay watch was actually called the Heritage Black Bay. Not just a name, the design of the Black Bay took inspiration from the Rolex and Tudor Submariners of yesteryear.
Vintage Sub ref. 6536. Image: Christies.com
With the Black Bay 58, Tudor took the opportunity to integrate additional vintage-inspired elements including the red bezel index, the gilt dial elements, and the rivet-style bracelet, among others. Though not the sole inspiration for the BB58, you can note many aspects of the vintage ref. 6536 that are clearly represented in the modern Tudor.
After the introduction of the steel/black bezel Black Bay Fifty-Eight in 2018, Tudor has gone on to release the same model in a steel/blue bezel version as well as others with silver, bronze, and 18K yellow gold cases.
Black Bay 58 Models. Image: Tudorwatch.com
The Case Of The Tudor BB58
For most wrists, the original Heritage Black Bay really was too big. On paper, it had a 41mm case diameter, a standard size for most dive watches. However, this obscured the fact that the watch case was quite thick. There’s no doubt it looked great, but on the wrist, it definitely felt like a bit of a “clunker.”
The Tudor Black Bay 58 reference 79030 changed this hard-to-overlook aspect with a new, more compact case that I believe has even better proportions than the original. The redesign not only makes the BB58 more wearable, it also makes it more elegant.
The case specifications of the Black Bay 58 are:
- 39mm case diameter
- 42.5mm with crown
- 47.5mm lug-to-lug
- 20mm strap size (between the lugs)
- 12mm tall/thick
The stainless steel construction is the same, as is the surface finish of the metal, retaining the brushed top and polished case flanks. Furthermore, the case possesses the trademark polished edge between the top and sides of the case, which I’ve always found to be a small detail that significantly enhances the look of the watch.
Sitting atop the case is a steel unidirectional diver’s bezel. The bezel has a coin edge for improved grip as well as a metal diver’s scale insert.
The insert is black with gold-toned markings. I was surprised by how well these markings on the bezel match the other gold-toned or bronze elements on the dial, given that they are completely different materials. The bezel also has a luminous pip and red arrow index at 12, a callback to vintage Submariners as mentioned previously
Bringing the entire case design together is the crown with a similar coin-edge texture as well as a Tudor rose that recalls the brand’s previous logo (before it was replaced by the Tudor shield.)
Black Gilt Dial
If the case design imparts the comfort factor, I’d say the dial takes care of the other critical aspect of any watch – the looks.
On the surface, the Black Bay 58’s dial looks like a regular matte black dial. However, in the right light, you’ll notice it has a bit of texture.
It’s a small detail that most distant observers won’t notice, but it’s part of a more prominent theme that I encountered with the Black Bay Fifty-Eight: Tudor has taken care of all the details, not with the goal of producing a flashy watch, but rather to improve the experience of the watch collector who’ll take the time to admire their watch from up close.
Other notable details include the printed minute markers, which match not only the bezel but also the hour indices. Speaking of which, these indices are applied rose gold plots with substantial lume. The hands at center, in the trademark Snowflake style, are also rose gold with plenty of lume.
Other than this, there are also printed specifications and the Tudor marquee. Overall, the dial is perfectly executed; it’s not too busy and it’s not too simple. All of the elements are very refined and thought-out, making for a very handsome aesthetic.
Tudor Manufacture Calibre MT5402
I’ve spent most of this review praising all of the external characteristics of the Tudor Black Bay 58 when none of them would have come together so cohesively if it weren’t for the movement within. That’s because the Tudor MT5402 Caliber, explicitly designed for this watch in the new-and-improved case, is what allows it all to happen.
The MT5402 movement is as modern as can be, and as far as most collectors are concerned, has little to envy from the most up-to-date Rolex movements. It has bi-directional winding, a 70-hour power reserve, and is COSC-chronometer certified.
It doesn’t have the most cutting-edge anti-magnetic or shock-resistant elements you’ll find on watches that cost twice as much (or more), but when was the last time you really needed all of those gadgets?
The Black Bay 58’s Rivet Bracelet
Finally, we come to the BB58’s rivet bracelet, a point of contention for many collectors who were on the fence with regard to this excellent watch. Many complained that they didn’t like the look of the faux rivets or that it makes no sense to have them there since they’re not functional.
If you’ve made it this far into the review, then I think you can make it past my brief rant…
No, the bracelet does not function like the original Rolex rivet bracelets. And it shouldn’t – the vintage rivet bracelets were a pain as they constantly broke. This is the reason why Rolex only used them for a couple of years. I’ll also point out that the bezel is for diving and the watch is rated to 200m of depth, and yet 99% of owners will never take this on a dive and hardly venture more than 10m below the surface with this watch.
Back to the topic – like everything else on this watch, the bracelet is very sturdy and well-executed. The links are solid and boast matching surface finishes to those found on the case. The folding clasp, shaped like the Tudor Shield logo, is just as confidence-inspiring thanks to the satisfactory click with which it snaps closed.
Links can be removed with a small screwdriver and the clasp has three smaller settings for micro-adjustments. I do wish the bracelet had an EasyLink, and in fact newer Tudor watches possess this feature, but at this <$4,000 price point, one can hardly expect it.
I’ve also found that the color scheme of the dial makes it very easy to pair the Black Bay 58 with many different straps. I’ve become particularly fond of the khaki fabric strap featured higher up in this review, as well as a brown leather strap. Nevertheless, after a couple of weeks of trying new strap combinations, I tend to gravitate back to the bracelet (and always wonder why I ever changed it.)
On-The-Wrist Review Of The Black Bay 58
If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a big fan of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. In fact, I’d say it’s the absolute best value proposition out there right now, which is not to say that it’s cheap. The watch retails for $3,800, though it regularly sells in pre-owned condition for below $3,000.
That being said, I don’t believe you can find a Swiss watch with this build quality, pedigree, attention to detail, and wearability at this price. In my opinion, the Tudor Black Bay 58 is Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster quality at less than half the price.
On the wrist, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight just feels incredibly solid. The watch is compact, and even with the full steel bracelet, it does not feel heavy. Nevertheless, it remains a sturdy timepiece and one which emanates the essence of a professional tool watch.
This isn’t a flashy watch, and unless you’re surrounded by watch ̶n̶e̶r̶d̶s̶ collectors, it’s unlikely to be recognized. This is exactly what I was looking for in the Black Bay 58, a well-built Swiss automatic watch without the stigma, and I certainly found it.
More broadly speaking, the Black Bay 58 is a great option for those starting out a collection as well as for those looking to fill another slot in their watch box. I wouldn’t expect the watch slot to be filled too often, though, as I suspect you’ll be wearing it much more than you’d expect.