“A certain blue enters your soul” – Introducing the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”
“A certain blue enters your soul,” once said the famous French artist, Henri Matisse. Now while the shade of blue of the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” — or BBNewBie (Navy blue, NB, NewBie) as I have decided to call it for short — may not be something that’s revolutionary in its hues, it nonetheless manages to elevate the existing Tudor BB58 collection with a more fun, youthful aesthetic that will see this newbie be the envy of anything in its price range.
Before we dive deeper into the review, from the onset I would like to state that while at first look there is nothing really new here, somehow the star of the show still ends up being the dial: the navy blue matt domed dial that features central hour, minute and second hands (with stop seconds for precise time setting) presents itself as a contemporary backdrop for the applied hour-markers and the “Snowflake” hands to work their magic. The incredible legibility we have got accustomed to when dealing with the Tudor BB range is still retained, and the filling-in of the hands with grade A Swiss Super-LumiNova® luminescent material only further aides this legibility. It also makes for some seriously amazing lume shots.
As a package, the all-blue look of the dial is pretty amazing especially when paired with the blue Jacquard fabric strap. That said, the steel bracelet version (below) allows the dial to take centre stage, and this combination works exceptionally well if someone wishes to use this as their daily watch.
Usually, when it comes to luxury watches, the concept of value for money is usually not a considerable factor. After all, these days no one really ‘needs’ watches. Unless you are a professional diver with very specific timing needs or are aboard a NASA space shuttle, watches are essential ‘display candies’, that more often than not end up showing someone’s self-worth. Bottom line, they are not essential for our existence anymore given the rise of mobile phones, but for true horology lovers, they sure are Beethoven for the soul.
It is usually with this attitude I review Swiss luxury watches. But then once in a while, I come across a watch offering that beats these odds, and besides looking like a million bucks, are also value for money propositions. Omega’s Seamaster 300M is one that comes to mind. Rolex sports watches, if and when available at retail, are other examples that spring to mind. Given we are talking about Rolex and value for money in the same sentence — I strongly believe their watches are designed to withstand the test of time and look cool doing that — it then doesn’t surprise me at all that their more economical offering, Tudor, strives for the top spot in the industry when it comes to value-for-money luxury watches that feature refined aesthetics and proven reliability. The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” does just that.
And while it may not be a novel release from the brand, it ticks all the boxes one could desire from such a release. This, I think is where Tudor really scores with their so-far solo for 2020 release.
The Internal Competition
Days of Yore
Black Bay is an emblematic model for the brand. In terms of the naming of their word, for those who aren’t very familiar with the brand and its history, the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” gets its name from: Tudor, brand name; Black Bay, name of the collection that is a reincarnation of their 1950s Submariner watches; Fifty-Eight, year (1958) when its first 200m water-proof diver’s watch — Ref. 7924 or “Big Crown” — was introduced; and “Navy Blue”, the new addition to the range in terms of the colour of the dial.
Tudor has a history of producing blue sports watches, and this blue is not without precedence. It’s been 51 years in the making. In 1969, Tudor first introduced a divers’ watch with a blue dial and bezel. The same livery was later adopted by the French navy. This new release is in a way homage to that.
In regards to the colour being present in the modern-day catalogue, two offerings come to mind straight away: Black Bay “Midnight Blue” Ref. 79230B and Pelagos Ref. 25600TB.
Let’s briefly place the BBNewBie next to the former, the Black Bay (originally released in 2012 and inspired by the Ref. 7922 Submariner from 1954 that was a 100m water-resistant). It’s closer to its specifications compared to the Pelagos, and visually the blue bezel strikes a familiar chord. The BB “Midnight Blue” Ref. 79230B on a steel bracelet costs a similar 5’150 AUD, has the same 200m water-resistance and same frequency of 4Hz. Retaining the same essence, it also has the same characteristic angular “Snowflake” hands, dial layout, and overall case design with bevelled lugs. Essentially, it’s a similar watch for a similar price. You can even say that what BBNewBie is to the BB “Midnight Blue” is what the Rolex ‘Hulk’ Submariner is to Rolex “Kermit’ Submariner.
And now for the latter. Pelagos is another model currently in Tudor’s catalogue that the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” is very similar to. In terms of the colour segue, it may not be the exact same colour as the BBNewBie but is similar. BBNewBie is more understated and relatively a duller blue, but with the play of light, one could argue it is a very similar shade. Anyhow at the end of the day, it’s a blue watch. One can keep on comparing the shades and whatnot, but that doesn’t change the fact that both are blue watches.
Then Why Buy It?
If it’s very similar, then why anyone would wish to buy the new release?
- Well, for starters, it’s cheaper. The new BBNewBie retails for 5’000 AUD on a steel bracelet while the Pelagos retails for 6’250 AUD on a steel bracelet.
- Second, the case dimensions: the BBNewBie is only 39mm in diameter, making it much more daily-wear and small-wrist friendly, while the Pelagos comes in at a larger 42mm case size.
- Third, Pelagos is more of a professional diver’s watch, with its 500m water-resistance and a helium-espace valve. The new BB58 is 200m water-resistant and doesn’t feature a helium escape valve.
- Last but not the least, Pelagos has a date appetite at 3’o clock, whereas BB58 is time only. In my personal choice for watches, I always prefer to have a date window, except when it’s at that awkward 4.30 position. Talking about the Pelagos, I also prefer its rectangular indices that matching the hand better. That said, I do also realise that the purists might prefer the more clean look of the BBNewBie sans the date window.
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” is not an entirely new colour segue or watch style for the brand, and while I personally would pick the Pelagos in the same stunning blue, there was still space within Tudor’s collection for this new release that the brand has capitalised upon.
As I said, it ticks all the boxes:
- for purists who appreciate the idea of the new watch retaining the characteristic proportions of the 1950s
- for people on a budget restraints
- for perusers of vintage style watches
- or for folks with smaller wrist sizes
In my humble opinion the new BBNewBie is a wonderful option.
The External Competition
In my opinion, no luxury diver around the 5K Australian mark exists that comes even close to the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue”. The watch costs $4580 on a blue fabric strap, that comes with the Tudor heritage, a rotating bezel timer, a 200m water-resistance, the impressive 70-hour power reserve, COSC-certification, and a five-year guarantee. And even though I am a big fan of Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra range, I believe Tudor’s BB58 presents for a much more all-rounder package. True the Aqua Terra range has a date option and the watches come at the similar smaller case diameter of 38mm, they are much more expensive — all above 7K AUD — and slightly less water-resistant at 150m with no rotating bezels. Same is the case with the Seamaster 300M.
Then there are the Breitling Superocean Automatic 42 Ref. A17366D81C1A1 and the Superocean Automatic 36 Ref. A17316D81C1A1 that have a blue dial and a blue rotating bezel and retail for a slightly more expensive $5’500 AUD on a steel bracelet. The latter is too small for a dive watch in my opinion and the former is more of a Pelagos competitor with its 500m water resistance and 42mm case diameter. Plus they both feature only a 38-hour power reserve and a borrowed ETA 2824-2 movement.
Then there are other offerings from Doxa and Seiko that are very reasonably priced but their overall case designs can be polarising. In terms of a traditional, neat, ultra-legible round cased ‘luxury’ Swiss diver that’s trustworthy and under 5K AUD, I just don’t think it faces any competition. There’s also the Oris Divers Sixty-Five series but they, unfortunately, they have a much lower power reserve, don’t have an in-house movement, and don’t boast of Rolex’s/Tudor’s legacy. On a side note, the new Oris x Momotaro Diver’s Sixty-Five is pretty freakin’ amazing, and relatively pocket friendly too.
I would in-fact even go on to say that the new BBNewBie could very well be the perfect beater out there. It even comes with a 5-year guarantee that does not require the watches to be registered, or go through maintenance checks. Additionally, the brand also claims that the watches be serviced approximately every 10 years (depending on the model and real-life usage). So if you can think of something that trumps this new watch, please leave your suggestions in the comments section below as I am happy to stand corrected.
The reference 79030B features a COSC-certified manufacture calibre MT5402 that is a self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system. The 26mm diameter and 4.99mm thick movement features a variable inertia balance, a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, an open-worked (with satin-brushed and sand-blasted details) tungsten monobloc rotor, and bridges and mainplate with alternate sand-blasted, polished surfaces and laser decorations. It beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h) and comprises of 27 jewels.
The movement is encased inside a 39mm diameter 316L steel case with polished and satin finish. The case features a unidirectional rotatable bezel in 316L steel with 60-minute graduated disc in matt blue anodised aluminium with silver gilded markings and numerals.
The watch offers an impressive 70-hour power reserve and water-resistance of 200m (20 ATM). It comes on varying bracelet options: steel bracelet (5’000 AUD), blue ‘soft-touch’ strap (4’580 AUD) or blue fabric strap (4’580 AUD).
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
I realised if I approached this review like a watch collector, a serious watch geek, or a watch journalist, the review wouldn’t be fair as the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” is essentially an old dog that’s learnt some new tricks. Now I know the saying goes ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but to give credit where its due, Rolex and now Tudor, both have a tendency to release a variation of something familiar and trustworthy that somehow manages to catapult itself into the limelight. Also, the all-blue Tudor does look good, one can’t deny that. But still, it’s only a new colour segue. True its got its roots in the French Navy and all but that’s about it though. In contrast, I reckon that the original BB from 2012 or the first issue of the BB58 were more worthy of reviewing from a watch collector’s/journalist’s perspective.
So instead, I have decided to approach this review from the perspective of writing it for someone who is either just getting into watches or someone who would like to own a nice diver and sees this specific one for the first time perhaps. Or maybe they have heard of Tudor but not really looked much into it. To them, the brand’s history, French Navy connection, whether it comes in other colours or not, what shade of blue it is, none of that matters. What matters is that at their disposal is a beauty of a dive watch for a fairly affordable price. Now, suddenly the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” becomes very interesting. And in my opinion this is where it scores the most; not as a watch to be compared with Tudor’s entire history or that of Rolex’s, but as a stand-alone dive watch.
Like I said at the beginning, here it ticks all the right boxes. Price point, check. Rotating bezel, check. High water-resistance, check. Brand legacy, check. Daily wearable size, check. A popular dial colour choice, check. (I realise I just sounded like Monica or Ross doing that. I really don’t feel like expanding in this reference so please God, let there be some F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans reading this review).
Anyway coming back to the watch in hand, as my understanding goes, trying to remember my younger self from a couple of decades ago, I would have loved to have this watch. And even now, I would still love to. For me, past and prevent versions both, as a watch lover, the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” is a no-brainer.
For more information on this and other Tudor watches, please head to their website here. All Tudor images Courtesy ©TUDOR. All Rights Reserved.