Hands-On: The Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark Limited Edition

Tudor is pretty regular with their release schedule. Most of their drops occur at Tudor World — sorry, I mean Baselworld — and then there’s occasionally one or two little surprises throughout the year, like the Pelagos LHD back in 2016. This week, Tudor unveiled a new, highly limited (for the brand) edition of the Black Bay Chrono rendered in all black PVD. Dubbed the Black Bay Chrono Dark, it takes this already masculine watch to a new aggro level, and we got the chance to go hands-on with it.

Before getting into the watch itself, let’s go over why Tudor made it. This isn’t just a blacked-out chrono for the sake of making a blacked-out chrono. It’s to celebrate Tudor’s role as the Official Timekeeper of the Rugby World Cup 2019, as well as their sponsored team, the New Zealand All Blacks. Additionally, Tudor will be supplying the referees with the non-limited Black Bay Chrono in steel. Starting September 20th in Japan, this is the ninth Rugby World Cup and the first in Asia, so it’s kind of a big deal. The All Blacks also won in 2011 and 2015, so they’ll be defending their title.

The Black Bay Chrono Dark

Clearly, Tudor drew from the name and aesthetics of the All Blacks for inspiration in the design, as well as the numbering of the watch. Founded in 1903, the All Blacks have had a total of 1,181 players at the time of writing, which is also the number of Black Bay Chrono Darks to be produced. As that number goes up, more will be released, so I suppose there will be a shred of hope for whoever ends up on the waiting list. The number of each watch will be etched into the solid case back.


Hands-On: The Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark Limited Edition

Black PVD Steel
Tudor MT5813
Domed Sapphire
Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
41 x 50mm
Lug Width

While I appreciate the story and intention behind the watch, as someone who knows next to nothing about rugby  I’m just here for the blacked-out chronograph. As you might recall, I recently reviewed the Black Bay Chrono S&G (steel and gold), which was a pretty lengthy and thorough run-through of the watch. The long and short of it: despite a couple of odd design choices, the Black Bay Chrono is a fun, rugged chronograph with style to spare, and it wears well. It’s a bit on the chunky side, but as I wrote before I can forgive the thickness of this watch given that automatic chronographs are typically in the 14+mm range. And considering that the watch features a COSC-approved chronometer caliber with 41-jewels, a column-wheel, a vertical clutch, a 70-hour power reserve, a silicon hairspring, a freesprung balance, a bi-directional winding rotor, and a frequency of 28,800 bph, I’m even more ok with a touch of thickness. After all, that’s one of the most impressive lists of stats in a chronograph on the market.

edge-to-edge black
brushed steel under the black coating
Numbered case-back
rugged details

But I’m getting sidetracked. With the Black Bay Chrono Dark, Tudor took the next logical step with the format: coating it in black PVD, though before doing so they made a slight change to the finishing. Gone are all of the polished surfaces on the case, making way for satin brushing, which is the same finishing that was used on the three-hand Black Bay Dark. This is a wise choice as black PVD over polished surfaces becomes too glossy, defeating the intended tough look while also picking up fingerprints like no one’s business.

But it’s not just the mid-case. The pushers, crown, crown offset, bezel, and bracelet have all gotten the brushed black treatment. The result? A mean-looking watch. If the steel model is sporty-casual, and the steel and gold is sleazy-cool, then the blacked-out model is pure aggro. The crown and pushers, which I felt looked a bit too decorative on the S&G, look armor-plated on the Dark. And by making it all black, the watch actually looks more compact and even a touch thinner, giving it slightly harder lines and sharper angles.

The white indexes really pop

Perhaps the biggest visual difference actually comes from inverting the bezel insert, which has gone from brushed steel with a black index to black anodized aluminum with a white/silver index. This pulls the black of the dial all the way to the edge, connecting it with the case and completing the blacked-out look. The dark surface also makes the index pop, and it has a bit more of a technical quality to it.

As for the dial, Tudor kept the same one used on the steel model. It’s black (surprise) with black sub-dials, white indexes and highlights, and applied polished markers with white lume-fill. At six are three lines of text over the date, including “200m 660ft” in dark red. The date is also white with black text. It works on the watch, perhaps even a bit better than it does on the steel case, (which could have used contrast sub-dials, in my opinion), but since this is a LE I do wish there was something to make it a bit special — perhaps black surrounds on the markers and a black date. Or even dark gray sub-dials, though that might have gone too far. The hands are the same as those found on the steel model as well, except that the tip of the chronograph-seconds-hand is dark red rather than white.

The Black Bay Chrono Dark comes mounted to a 22mm three-link bracelet that tapers to 18mm at the clasp. It looks the part on the chronograph, though it lacks the rivets I so enjoy on other Black Bay bracelets. That said, I understand that choice, as the watch has a more modern, sleek look than the others, and the three-hand version also lacks rivets.

no-rivets, but the black PVD gives a sleek, modern edge

On the wrist, what’s not to like? It’s the same great-looking chronograph in an even meaner, sportier package. The Black Bay Chrono was never going to pass for a dress watch, so you might as well take it to the aggressive extreme. And as I mentioned, it has the additional positive effect of making the watch look trimmer, which never hurts. At 41mm, it was never too big either, it just wasn’t retro-sized. And in black, it’s a tough, modern racing-chrono that will look amazing with rugged materials and casual attire.

All in all, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark is an excellent addition to the lineup, though I wish it wasn’t limited. I get the reasoning and I think the tie-in with their role in the Rugby World Cup and sponsorship of the New Zealand All Blacks is logical, including the numbering concept. But this watch just makes sense as part of a trio, and I wonder if they went far enough with it to make it a “LE” special. Looking through Tudor’s back catalog you’ll find the ceramic Black Shield chronographs. Sort of a forgotten collection, it shows that Tudor can work with more exotic materials to get that all-black look. Perhaps a ceramic bracelet would have been an issue, but imagine this watch in ceramic with an all-black bund strap, vis-a-vis the S&G? Now that sounds pretty sexy. Tudor

41mm wears well on a 7″ wrist
Yeah, it’s got a lot of attitude

The Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark comes in at $5,925, making it a bit pricier than the steel version, which is to be expected given the coating and limited nature of the watch. Tudor hasn’t done many limited editions since its return to the spotlight, making the Black Bay Chrono Dark a special case. While 1,181 units is not an unsubstantial number, for a global brand on the scale of Tudor and given the rugby All Blacks tie in, they will likely go fast, and thus potentially increase in value. So, should you be interested in one as an investment, or as a sick blacked-out chrono to wear, I wouldn’t hesitate. Tudor

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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