Baselworld 2019: My Hands-On Opinion of the New Tudor Black Bay P01

For better or for worse, the Tudor Black Bay P01 is undoubtedly the most talked about watch of Baselworld 2019. The discussion began the moment the first leaked image hit Instagram this past Tuesday. It was a crappy scan of a crappy render — something that was clearly never meant for public consumption — and that certainly didn’t help the conversation, which quickly morphed into an onslaught. And then there was the watch itself. The render indicated a Black Bay that was really out of left field, boasting a risky design from a brand that I would argue normally doesn’t take big risks.

And then there was the issue of Tudor’s social media teases. Simply put — and I don’t think I’m being unfair when I say this — the social media campaign was misleading, especially the post that showed a printed triangle at the 9:00 position. Many, myself included, thought Tudor was bringing back the 79xxx Sub. So really I think the biggest sin here is one of setting up false expectations, and then having those expectations amplified tenfold via social media. I wonder about the reaction had the expectation not been set so high. 

The OG.

Some back story on the design is warranted. The watch is inspired by a ’60s prototype produced for the nicknamed  “Commando” program. The ask was a diver’s tool watch with a locking mechanism, and Rolex filed a patent for their design — a locking clamp on the lugs — in the late ‘60s. The concept was ultimately scrapped (likely deemed too impractical at the time) and the watch became lore. That’s what Tudor is pulling from here. 

Tudor Black Bay P01

Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial: Black
Dimensions: 42mm
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200m
Crown: Screw down
Movement: Tudor Manufacture MT5612
Strap/bracelet: Leather via metal lug extensions
Price: $3,950
Expected release: July 2019


Before I dive in, let me get this out of the way. As a consumer, the Black Bay P01 is not for me. I’m not  in the market for a novelty dive watch, let alone one that costs almost $4,000. But there are plenty of people who are, and given the number of these types of watches on the market (Omega Ploprof, Squale Tiger, Triton Subphotique, etc.), I can see why Tudor might want something like this in their lineup. After all, the classic Black Bay formula has had its fair share of the spotlight in Tudor’s catalog, and while I’m sure it’s still selling like hotcakes in most iterations, I know I was hankering to see something else.

With that out of the way, the Black Bay P01 is not the steaming dumpster fire Instagram would have you believe it is. Like every other watch Tudor makes, it’s perfectly engineered; everything is sharp, and the tolerances here are even more impressive here given the bezel locking mechanism, which has zero play when engaged.

The top clamp locks down the bezel.

The mechanism, which is essentially a clamp that flips open, does so in a really satisfying way. There’s absolutely no slop. To my surprise, I learned that only the top clamp is functional; the bottom is likely there for symmetry. It seems weird to me to do it that way, but I guess it ultimately doesn’t really matter if one clamp gets the job done.

One thing that makes this watch a tough sell for me personally are the really long lugs. I had no way of measuring the lug-to-lug, but even eyeballing it there’s no denying that the lugs are long. Even without the articulating lug extensions, which don’t really add to the length of the watch when worn, the P01 is too big for my wrist (note the overhang in the photo below). On the flip side, our very own Blake Malin tried it on at the presentation, and the watch looked at home on his larger wrist.

Otherwise, the case is pretty cool. I dig the overall asymmetry and the extended crown at 4:00. And, as I wrote above, the case is expertly manufactured. Everything is as precise as can be and finished in a really pleasing way. Though this isn’t your traditional Black Bay, the quality of the finishing remains the same.

I also really like the dial. Gone are the metal surrounds for the hour markers, and instead what we have here are simple printed markers topped with ever-so-slightly warm lume. It’s not faux-patina, but it does hint at age. Overall, I’m partial to this look, and I’d love to see it trickle down to future Black Bay releases.

So, to sum up, I won’t be running out the door to buy the P01. Unfortunately, it’s not for me. And for everyone reading this who sincerely thought Tudor was on their way to bringing back the Sub, I hear you. I really do. Ultimately, I think this is a watch for those who like weird and are in the market for a quirky novelty diver. If you fall into that camp, then I suggest you don’t exclude the P01 from consideration. Instead, I recommend you go try one on and make up your mind for yourself. Tudor

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.