Tudor Black Bay Black 2.0 Review
The Black Bay is Tudor's most popular contemporary watch, which is unsurprising since it's based on a combination of the best watches from the brand's past. Tudor recently decided to update the original three models, making aesthetic changes to the dial, bracelet and even adding a new in-house movement. But should Tudor have messed with success?
Tudor's renaissance is the product of a variety of great watches, like the Pelagos, Ranger and North Flag, but I think it's indisputable that it owes most of its recent popularity to the Black Bay.
So when fans heard that they'd be expanding the line, adding a new bronze model, a smaller version and a blacked out "Dark" piece they were excited. A few were less excited, however, with the news that the original three Black Bays, the red, blue and black, were also getting updated.
Namely, while most fans were very happy with the news that the watch was going to be equipped with Tudor's new movement, they were divided as to changes on the dial. While the hands, markers and colors have remained pretty much identical, there are two subtle differences.
This CHRONOMETER writing is the most obvious. This is because, as you might suspect, it's now a chronometer where it wasn't before. More importantly, however, the completely redundant and semi-circular SELF-WINDING text has been replaced by the also completely redundant, but linear, OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED. Of course the rotor is self-winding. We're not actually going to reach into the back of the watch and turn the rotor. And of course it's officially certified. Chronometers are certified by definition. Still, the three lines of text at the bottom balance nicely with the emblem and two lines of text at the top. Besides, watch collector law states that Grand Seiko fans like myself are forbidden from criticizing other brands for redundant writing on the dial.
The other difference is the use of the Shield emblem over the Rose, although the Rose continues to live on with the crown. This has also been somewhat divisive, because there is a perception, one that Tudor itself probably fostered, that "heritage" pieces like the Black Bay get the Rose while contemporary pieces like the Pelagos get the shield. That held true for the last several years, but it's worth pointing out that this was never the traditional practice of Tudor. The two symbols were used interchangeably at various times and models in the brand's history, and they were even sometimes used together. Thus, this change, in my view anyway, doesn't break any Tudor rules and whether you like it or not comes down to personal aesthetic preference.
For my own preferences, I greatly prefer the new dial to the old one. I never liked the semi-circular text and I find chronometer text, while also unnecessary, to at least be somewhat informative as virtually all mechanical watches today are "rotor self-winding" compared to the relative minority that are chronometers. As for the Shield versus the Rose debate, I'm happy with both, but I'll allow myself some hypocrisy against what I just said about the history of Tudor's logos. While I think they both look great, the Rose is the one that is more cohesive with the vintage design.
Another difference can be found in the bracelet. Tudor made the gutsy decision to go to a riveted bracelet, or at least a faux-riveted bracelet. That might sound like a criticism, but bracelets held together by screws are much more sophisticated than their riveted counterpart, so I'm really only pointing out that it's just for looks and doesn't compromise the structural integrity.
Here we can take a close look at the "rivets." Note that many rivets are actually screw heads, or on the other side, the end of the screw/pin. That's good news because Tudor's bracelets are really secure and surprisingly easy to work on, at least compared to rivals like Omega and Grand Seiko.
Since the bracelet is functionally identical, the crucial question is whether it looks good. I've held off on forming an opinion on this until I spent time with it. I do think the bracelet looks quite good, but I'll admit that I like the plainer original one more. Nonetheless, it does fit with the vintage machismo that the rest of the watch presents, and, at any rate, you can always get the leather strap.
I'm showing you the back of the watch in part because it has a slightly different back, but in part because there's a new movement inside it. That would be wonderful MT5602 which is, as far as I know, virtually identical to the other Tudor In-House movements except without a date or power reserve. Because it's not really that different from other Tudor movements, and because we can't see it, I'd recommend you check out my Tudor North Flag review where I go crazy in-depth with it. If you lack the time to do that, then I'll say that it's simply one of the most sophisticated movements under $10,000. I personally wear a North Flag and it's one of my most accurate watches, company that includes Grand Seikos and Omegas.
The excellent lume remains unchanged in the 2.0. The lume on this watch has always been well thought out, using very different shapes for all three hands, and a unique 12:00 marker for orientation.
Not much has changed in terms of the case. It's still 41mm, a terrific size for the watch. At 14.8mm thick it's slightly thicker than its predecessor, probably due to its fancy new movement, but well within normal parameters for watches in this genre.
The rose logo still lives on with the crown, which screws down for an unchanged 200 meters of water resistance. The lug to lug measurement is, at least to my calipers, 49.5mm.
So that's the Black Bay 2.0. The changes to this model track to the red and blue versions as well. What do I think? To me, there is no question that the 2.0 is superior. It's got an excellent movement, I prefer the straight chronometer text to the round self-winding text and I'm fine (although indifferent) about the choice to use the Shield instead of the Rose. There are, nonetheless, a few reasons to go after the 1.0. I like the bracelet a little more but it's also thinner. Many collectors have speculated that they will be more valuable, as well, particularly the Black Bay Black 1.0, although I don't really follow that side of watch collecting very closely so I have no opinion on whether or not that'll hold true. So while I would take the 2.0 without a second thought, if you do find yourself preferring the original, I'd say the time to get it is now. They're still available at retailers, but it's just a matter of time until they're gone. If you'd like to read about the original Black Bay Black, please see my review of it here.