TUDOR Black Bay 58: Hot or Not?

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Tudor Black Bay 58 cuffed

In our last installment of Hot or Not? I argued that a gold Rolex Datejust is tasteless, tacky and tepid. This time I’m charged with defending the white hot TUDOR Black Bay 58. Let’s start with some family history . . .

I’m the third of three boys. My older brothers retired in their early-40’s. In the intervening 20 years, I pressed on – hypnotizing arachnophobes, marrying and divorcing women, disrupting the blogosphere and driving sports cars like my hair was on fire.

Just as it’s time to acknowledge that my bothers’ productive years are behind them, it’s time to put TUDOR’S  big brother Rolex out to pasture. Rolex has done nothing interesting for so long it’s hard to remember Rolex ever did anything interesting.

Tudor Black Bay 58 cuffed

Meanwhile, TUDOR’s been experimenting with case shapes, dial variations, movements and materials (titanium!). Kicking out the jams, even as it refines, restores and renews its heritage pieces.

The Black Bay 58 is, in many ways, the culmination of TUDOR’s campaign to not be Rolex. It’s roughly half the size of a Submariner. There’s no date wart. It’s got its own design language. It’s got its own caliber. It doesn’t cost your first born.

Tudor Black Bay 58 gold AF

The Black Bay 58 is handsome. Hardy. Accurate. Reliable. Comfortable. Luminescent. Did I mention you don’t to raid the kid’s college fund to buy one? I could go on but I’ll stop here, Luke, and ask you a simple question. What’s not to love?

Luke Ibis:

I’ll grant that the Black Bay 58 is a nice looking watch. You know what’s even better looking? Any real vintage TUDOR dive watch from the 60’s or 70’s.

1959 Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner

The Black Bay 58 is just another mishmash of a brand’s greatest hits remixed and repackaged for a modern audience. An audience that unfortunately recoils at the patina and scars those vintage pieces carry AND any potentially serviced or replaced parts that would foul it’s collector value.

1955 Tudor Oyster Submariner 7923

The gold on black dial is from the 1950’s. The oversized crown with no guards is from the 60’s. The snowflake hands come from 70’s military TUDORs that were basically low-end Rolex.

It wants to be at least three different watches but swings and misses three times. Even though there’s no baseball right now I think that means it’s out.

Vintage Tudor ad

Unsuccessful homages end up insulting the brands and the heritage they are trying to leverage. The Black Bay 58 may be pretty but it’s about as authentic as a stripper’s love: a lot of fun when you’re flush, but foolish and phony in the cold light of day.

Robert Farago: 

You say the Black Bay 58 is based on the brand’s history of low-priced Rolex knockoffs – complete with Submariner and Oyster branding and Mercedes hands. I say the BB58 is clearly it’s own thing, separate from Rolex both old and new and TUDOR’s own past as a Rolex wanna-be.

Tudor Black Bay 58 outdoors

Sure, the BB58’s got the same color scheme as the 1955 TUDOR Oyster Submariner. And? It’s a distinctive color combo that’s warm and rich and, in the right light, a little bit flash. Faulting the BB58 for bringing back that design is like criticizing Ford for bringing back the GT.

By the same token, slating the BB58 for using the snowflake hands that set TUDOR apart from Rolex is like knocking Kaia Gerber‘s looks because her mother was a bit of a babe.

Tudor Black Bay 58 menu

You want authentic? I repeat: the BB58’s got it own in-house movement. Developed with Breitling, the new-for-2018 calibre MT5402 is COSC-certified, warrantied for five years and boasts a 70-hour power reserve.

Yada yada yada. The Black Bay 58 is more than the sum of its parts. It has quintessence. It’s not too big or too small, too thick or too thin. It’s a dive watch reduced to its basics. Unadorned, unabashed and unafraid – of water or sheltering under Armani shirt cuffs.

Tuodr Black Bay 58 fire hydrant

The Black Bay 58 builds on its shared past with Rolex but goes one better, by proving that less is more. Which is my way of saying the Black Bay 58 is so cool it’s hot.

Luke Ibis:

Evolution implies change, Robert. Greater fitness for purpose and niche. The BB58 isn’t an evolution of anything. It’s more like the hot house tomatoes you can get in the grocery store all year round. A genetically engineered product that looks authentic, but fails the taste test.

Tudor Black Bay 58 side

I can’t believe that we’re praising TUDOR for making a reasonably sized watch here. They went back and figured out that those old 39 mm sports watches from the 1960’s really were pleasant to wear, then just did that with a new watch. Wow that’s innovation! The BB58 proves the Swiss are either completely out of ideas or just obsessed with smelling their own farts.

Speaking of things that stink, let’s talk about the engine in the BB58. That amazing COSC-certified in-house movement is just another spinning rotor automatic. It doesn’t raise the bar in any way and it certainly doesn’t bring any new technology or innovation to the table. Worse, it means that TUDOR, for purposes of vanity only, ensured that their watches will be impossible to service without the direct support and sponsorship of Rolex/TUDOR forever.

Tudor Black Bay cuff

Did you want an heirloom? Did you want to share that brilliant Swiss quintessence with your children’s children? Well I’m sorry to let them know that grandpa’s old watch may no longer be supported by TUDOR Authorized Service. Whatever independent watchmakers are left working won’t be able to get parts either. So that “timeless” BB58 will be nothing but junk drawer flotsam that they can’t quite let go.

The BB58 is a perfect symbol of the cynical, profit-at-all costs watch market circa 2018. TUDOR simply said “hey, they can’t afford a real vintage piece, so let’s give them the next worst thing.” That next thing is a jumble of hackneyed old styling cues bungled together with a cheap but prestigious sounding movement that ensures it’ll be useless in 20 years. All that makes it decidedly not hot.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi , I was very fortunate to receive a brand new tudor black bay red bezel for Christmas, my question is if the bezels circumference is 41mm is the watch referred to as a tudor bb41?

  2. Late reply, but No, why would it be? The 58 on this model (only model with a number in its name) is reference to 1958 the year. By your logic it should be called black bay bay 39.

    The 41mm is simply a black bay

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