Review of Tudor Heritage Black Bay

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Model # 79220R
Brand/Model:  Tudor Heritage Black Bay Automatic
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case, distressed-style vintage leather strap
Complications:  none
Price:  MSRP $3,100 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay pays homage to the company’s diving watches that appeared in 1954 and that continually evolved into the 1980s.  The new Tudor Heritage Black Bay was introduced a couple of years ago to great acclaim and rightfully so, this is a superb watch.
The modern Black Bay features gold tone hands and markers, harkening back, as Tudor says, to the ‘characteristic patina of older timepieces.’  According to the company, the beautiful burgundy red on the bezel is an original feature exclusive to Tudor and is faithful to their original 1970s models.
The Black Bay comes on either a stainless steel bracelet or a wonderful looking distressed-style vintage black leather strap.  Both variations also come with an extra black fabric strap.
Also introduced this year at Baselworld 2014 is a new blue Black Bay, with a stunning blue bezel and silver tone hands and markers replacing the gold tone pieces on the burgundy Black Bay.  The new blue model features a blue fabric strap in addition to a leather strap or stainless steel bracelet.
The Black Bay starts with a polished and brushed stainless steel case measuring 41mm without the large signed screwdown ‘big crown’; 44.6mm crown included.  Case thickness is 12.8mm; lug spacing is 22mm.
The crown tube is crafted in red anodized aluminum, which is visible between the case and crown.  The crown is polished and carries the Tudor ‘rose’ logo infilled in black.
The caseback is fully brushed and fits nearly flush with the case itself, a signature feature of many Tudor watches.  The caseback screws down and is minimally adorned, with just the Tudor name, several small Tudor logos and the words ‘Suisse’ and ‘Geneve.’  Minimalism at its finest.
Overall fit and finish is what you would expect from Tudor, that is, great in all respects.  No sharp edges, nothing misaligned or dirty.  Just quality all the way.
Being a dive watch, the Black Bay is factory rated at 200 meters of water resistance.
The dial on the Black Bay is a matte black, with applied gold markers infilled with lume.  The marker at the 12 position is an inverted triangle, with the markers at the quarter hours being rectangular while the remaining markers are round.  A gold minute track encircles the dial at its outer edge.
The hands are the famous Tudor ‘snowflake’ design, with the hour hand featuring the iconic snowflake shape, with the minute hand a simple pointer-style stick.  The seconds hand has the snowflake diamond about two-thirds the way up its gold tone shaft.  All of these hands are gold with inset lume.  Lume quality is excellent:  bright, long-lasting and evenly applied.
Below the 12 marker is the Tudor rose logo rendered in gold, along with ‘Tudor’ and ‘Geneve’ below it.  Above the 6 marker are ‘200m:660 ft’, ‘rotor’ and ‘self-winding.’  The use of ‘self-winding’ instead of the modern term ‘automatic’ is Tudor’s way of staying retro with this watch.
The burgundy bezel is a 60-click unidirectional type, with minute markers for the first 15 minutes and arabics or markers every five minutes afterwards.  Bezel action is crisp and has a nice, solid, yet slightly cushioned feel to it.  The edge of the bezel has a fine coin edge finish.  A lume pip at 12 adds functionality.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the burgundy color is simply smashing!
Capping the dial is a domed sapphire crystal with no distortion or defects noted. 
One thing that makes the Black Bay such a winner is its simple, no-fuss design.  The dial is clean, easy-to-read and highly functional.
Inside the Black Bay is an ETA 2824 Swiss Made automatic movement.  Running in 25 jewels at 28,800 bph, this workhorse of a movement is familiar to practically all watch enthusiasts. 
While some people decry a ‘plebian’ ETA  movement inside a Tudor, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this movement in a watch of this caliber.  First off, many many luxury watches sport ETA or ETA-based movements, not true in-house calibers.  Secondly, it would make little sense for Tudors to use Rolex movements.  Why put a Rolex movement in the brand’s secondary lineup?  Not gonna happen.  Third, Tudor uses the high-grade version of the 2824 and this movement is easily capable of running within COSC specs when properly regulated.
That being said, the performance of my Black Bay is completely acceptable, although not quite running at COSC spec., but remember, this watch is not COSC certified.  Its performance of about +6 to +7 seconds over 24 hours is fine and as I stated, any competent watchmaker can regulate that down much finer.  Power reserve is the expected 41 hours.  Winding, hacking, setting and crown functions are perfect.
The black vintage leather strap on the Black Bay really sets this watch apart.  The look is absolutely perfect for this watch.  Not forced in anyway, this strap exudes ‘retro’ without yelling it, says ‘sophisticated’ without any shine and feels great on the wrist.  The inside of the strap has a suede-like finish, while the outer distressed portion is matte finished with same-color stitching.
The strap measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 17.7mm at the clasp.  There are two keepers, one fixed and one floating.  The clasp is polished and brushed and is signed, with a pointed fold-over safety tab.  The deployant is a fully polished high-quality stamped piece of stainless steel, while the clasp features small white ceramic friction bearings for a tight fit and long life.  Quality through and through.
Presentation is via a two-piece outer box in dark brown with a polished black inner box containing the watch, the additional black fabric strap and papers, which are placed in a red wallet-type holder.
Overall, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay is a respectful look back at various iconic Tudor watches, with enough modern touches to make it a contemporary timepiece suitable for many activities. 
The simplicity of the watch (no date display) makes it a perfect ‘grab and go’ watch that is functional, fashionable and still unique enough to say ‘I have arrived.’  Perhaps the perfect homage to Tudor’s proud horological heritage.
Pros: simple, functional, attractive design, high-grade Swiss engine, superb fit and finish, outstanding vintage leather strap
Cons:  should case be fully brushed instead of polished? lack of a date display could affect some buyers, still pricey
Verdict:  an out-of-the-box hit for Tudor, the Heritage Black Bay combines many classic Tudor touches with enough modernity to create a watch that’s perfectly at home in today’s busy world.  An outstanding achievement!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.
Excelsior!

-Marc


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