We’re off and running with Watches and Wonders 2021, and one of the brands on the slate that was most anticipated in the new W&W lineup (not to be confused with W&W) was Tudor. Ah yes, Tudor. Everyone loves Tudor. The sister brand of Rolex, maker of watches with the quality of the Crown, but with an everyman, tool watch focused appeal. And affordable, too – Tudor has always been a value proposition compared to Rolex, ever since the days when the brand literally used Rolex signed parts for watches with off-the-shelf, accessible calibers. So it’s no wonder that the brand’s big release this morning was a pair of precious metal dive watches on the Black Bay Fifty-Eight platform.
You read that right. This morning, in news that can only be described as extremely surprising, Tudor launched a pair of Black Bay Fifty-Eights in metals heretofore unused by the brand in their current collection (with the exception of an accent on some two-tone models). The new references are the Black Fifty-Eight 18K and the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925. Yes, that’s a solid 18K gold Black Bay Fifty-Eight with a green dial, and alongside it is a taupe dialed Fifty-Eight in silver.
Gold divers are common enough in the luxury sports watch space, so we’ll start with the Fifty-Eight 925, which for many is likely a head scratcher. Silver is not commonly used in watches because as a material it has some obvious weaknesses for a tool that’s to be worn on the wrist day in and day out. Pure silver is very soft, somewhat similar to gold, but the copper that’s contained in 925 silver (meaning it’s 92.5% “pure” silver, with copper making up the rest of its composition) makes it susceptible to tarnishing over time. It’s thought that silver is generally more susceptible to corrosion from the elements, so salty water and sweat would normally not be a good pairing with a piece of silver jewelry. And silver typically requires more maintenance to keep it looking sharp (the polishing of sterling silver flatware is something of a bygone ritual). This is just another way of saying that it’s not an inherently great material for a sports watch, even if it has certain undeniable aesthetic qualities.
Tudor is being somewhat cagey about the nature of the silver alloy they’re using, but they have intimated that it’s treated in such a way to make it sports watch appropriate. According to their press material, the composition of the alloy is such that it doesn’t impact the appearance of the case, which we take to mean that it won’t tarnish (or patina) over time, as you’d expect from a watch made with copper. They’re still referring to the material as 925 silver, which carries a certain weight in the jewelry world, so let the speculation begin about what exactly they’ve done to the case in terms of any additional coatings. The Fifty-Eight 925 has a satin finish that Tudor says plays up the lustrous nature of the material, and is paired with a taupe dial and bezel that looks fantastic.
The Fifty-Eight 18K is crafted from 18 carat yellow gold, and features a green dial, which is a natural pairing and remains true to both some classic and contemporary Rolex watches, a similarity that is likely intentional on Tudor’s part. It’s a little jarring to see Tudor move so clearly upmarket with a solid gold timepiece this year, but the end result is undeniably good looking, and anyone who has strapped a Black Bay Fifty-Eight to their wrist understands who well these watches will wear, which only adds to the appeal of the precious metals. Like the 925, the 18K has been given a satin finish, and both watches also feature exhibition casebacks, a first for a watch in the Black Bay lineup. The movements used here are unchanged – the Fifty-Eight still runs on the MT5400 and is chronometer certified with a 70 hour power reserve.
Retail pricing for the silver Black Bay Fifty-Eight is set at $4,300, and the gold version is priced at $16,800. Tudor