Iím always torn between my opinion with these blackbays. I have always wanted to love it, but then after a while I always find something that bothers me here and there. But 2 weeks ago I was offered this BlackBay 41 Red ETA at a price that probably couldnít refuse (Around $1700) . My local dealer was clearing up some stocks because he is closing down for a short while and didnít want too many items on hand, some couldnít fit his safe and he didnít want to take it home, so I purchased it.
To be honest, this Black Bay 41 ETA was the first Black Bay I ever owned, I immediately purchased it when it was first released and got into the ADs way back then, but sold it after some 2 or 3 years of usage.
It came with all the bells and whistles, complete, quite great condition. It does show some usage, but very minor. My dealer also mentioned there is slight oxidization on the hands that he will take care of later when he re-opens, or whenever I want it to be cleaned.
As I mentioned before, it was my first Tudor watch years back, so I had a soft spot for it, and I immediately purchased it and sent to my home.
I know there are different versions of the BlackBays and the most successful of the recent releases was no doubt the BB58, and for great reasons too. At one point I owned the BB58, but after seeing quite a few of my friends owning and wearing the same watch, I quickly got bored of it and l flipped it.
As you can see the version I got was with the strap, Iím not much of a bracelet person, so Iím pretty happy with the strap option, and I feel like Tudor got the strap very right for the watch.
The BB41 Red ETA is quite an interesting watch, and something I didnít quite appreciate when there were no competition or option. There are things that of course I still like and dislike about the watch. No watch is perfect, otherwise there would be no one buying other models or brands out there and I feel thats a good and bad thing at the same time.
I really like the material being used in BBís aluminium bezel. I prefer it much more than ceramic to be honest, because ceramic is too glossy. However if they made a matte ceramic, it would be awesome. But then again it would probably jack up the price further, and I have no qualms with aluminium.
Now as we can see the bezel itself is quite different than Rolexís submariner or GMT aluminium inserts, the Rolexís ones have a glossy finish still, while the Tudorís is almost matte and satin-y. Which is something I highly adore. I know this comes down to personal preference, but I really dislike glossy inserts.
And we can also see that the red is more of a burgundy coloured, while many people often doubted the colour when you see it in pictures, in person is actually more subtle than that. So those who are on the fence just because of the red, donít worry about it, and itís actually to me, easier to wear than green like the harrods or the LVs.
The watch comes in a 41mm diameter, and I personally think itís a terrifice size. While alot of people adored the 39mm BB58, I personally think its not the size of the diameter of the watch that becomes the problem. Itís actually the lug to lug length, and also the lug width. As you can see it doesnít impose much of a problem when being worn with a strap, because straps has a tendency of making a watch look slimmer and sleeker. But if you put in on the bracelet, the end links would make it look like a big block of steel on the wrist.
To make a better sense of it, the lug to lug length is just a hair under 50mm, some 49.5mm or so. That actually translates to the same lug to lug length of my Heuer 01 Skeleton (the 43mm diameter), with 50mm lug to lug. And thatís on a watch thatís a full 2mm larger. The lugs on the BB41 makes it more look like a fang than a lug to be honest. And I also find it completely unneccessary for a 22mm lug width, while most of not all divers around 40mm range uses a 20mm lug with, an increase of 1mm doesnít need an increase of 2mm on the width. It makes the watch looks extremely chunky.
The side profile of the watch is very bland and I can consider it blocky. They could at least taper down the lug thickness towards the end instead of making it drop off like a 90 degree angle. I think there are much more elegant solutions here to make the watch feels and look sleeker. But I guess it is what it is. And keep in mind that this is the ETA version, so it is actually MUCH thinner than the in-house BB41 movements. It comes at around 12.5mm thickness and is much more comfortable to wear, than itís in-house counterparts.
Some would bemoan the ETA movement inside, but I actually donít mind. It doesnít have a display caseback anyway, and itís easier to service independently should any crap happens to it. While Tudor of course offers a long period on itís warranty, but in the really long run, ETA movements (for now), are much easier to handle.
On my 16.5cm wrist, and with an oval-shaped profile, I think despite the negatives that I mentioned, the watch is still easy to wear, and on a strap, it doesnít look too large.
From this side you can probably see clearer how blocky the side profile is.While its not a deal-breaker, but imagine how sleek it would look if they taper down the thickness towards the end of the lugs. I personally think it would work wonders.
Another thing that I really like from this is the coin edged bezel. Different from the Seamasters or the Submariners or a slew of other divers out there, this coin edged bezel is really subdued but gives you a nice great grip when you try to turn it. From the top you can barely see it, and itís a nice perfect circle, while when your hands reach out for it, you instantly notice the grippyness of the bezel. It is also a pleasure to use or turn.
My most favorite part of the watch, from back then, until today, is obviously the dial. The gilt markers and golden hands are really beautiful and a joy to the eye. While Iím still not a fan of the snowflake hands with circle round indexes, but it doesnít put me off completely. I wish the markers would be square, or they can just use the lollipop our markers found on vintage Tudor subs. But I guess it needs to differentiate itself from itís older brother, and it seems that the square hour hands is a trademark of Tudor, just like the Mercedes hands is to Rolex.
You can also see that when the light hits the dial, there is actually a texture on it, grainy sort of, and I thik itís really really nice. It gives the dial an extra dimension to it. While it is obviously far from Grand Seiko dial finishing, but it is a pleasure to see that its not just pure flat black. The BB58 is actually pure flat black btw.
Oh in the pic you can clearly see the oxidization too, I wouldnít say itís that bad on the naked eye, but yes, it can slightly be seen and it provides a duller colour. I actually kinda like it and Iím not sure if I want it to be removed/cleaned. Because it kinda goes with the theme of the watch.
Now there is one thing I love that is unique to this ETA version, it is the Rose Logo, and the ďsmileyĒ text. While itís not something people mostly consider about, but when I have it, I felt its much better / nicer than the in-house dial layout. Of course its not a huge deal-breaker if I donít have it, but having it makes it feel extra special.
Iím not sure if this version someday will be more ďcollectibleĒ than the in-house movements, but I find it is quite a significant watch in Tudorís modern history, being the first ever Blackbay watch released in the modern era.
Another to note is Tudor is really great on the clasp using ceramic ball bearings, itís really a joy to use. It feels like I just want to click it open and close over and over again, just because it feels so nice.
Oh one more thing, Tudor doesnít give this watch any anti-reflective coatings, and I think it should. Because it would make the dial pop up even more.
Overall I think it is a very nice watch, it wears very well, and a nicely all-around watch. Sure there are shortcomings, but I think given itís price, and also itís positives, I can overlook the negatives sides.
To those who wants to experience a Tudor, but worried about shelling too much, this option, especially ETAs, and the BB41/36, would be a great start. It gives a really genuinely nice experience, without burning too much of a hole in your pocket. And especially if you can buy one pre-owned, it would give you at least a safety net of not loosing too much should you decide to flip it in the future.
Thanks for reading!