Let The Patina Reveal The Story of Your Own Time With The Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43
Editor’s note: As we wait for Tudor to announce its new 2021 novelties at the upcoming Watches & Wonders digital fair next month, we go hands-on with one of the existing gems from the brand, the Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43. Given Tudor does something with this range every couple of years or so since its inception, perhaps there may be another version releasing soon? In the meanwhile, let’s check out this bronzed beauty, courtesy of J Farren-Price Sydney
The Watch: The 2019 slate-grey Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43 ref. M79250BA-0001 (leather strap reviewed here) or ref. M79250BA-0001 (fabric strap variation) retailing for $5’650 AUD. It is the second regular production variation of the watches-in-bronze collection by Tudor that was first revealed in 2016 in a brown version that won the “Petite Aiguille” prize at the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, a feat repeated last year by Black Bay Fifty-Eight.
Between these two, there have been two more variations, one blue-coloured limited to European retailer Bucherer (and now that’s also made its foray into US), and one one-off khaki-green piece for the Only Watch Auction.
Available At: J Farren-Price Sydney, 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney (02 9231 3299). It is now also available via their E-Boutique here
Tudor may be most popular for its Black Bay (BB) Fifty-Eight series these days, what with last year’s Navy-blue iteration deservingly winning the GPHG, but the Black Bay Bronze (BBB) divers are remarkably charming in their own right, owing to the larger 43mm case diameter suited for those with not-so-slim wrists, and for those enthusiasts who would like to show their own story courtesy the unique patina these watches develop over time thanks to its bronze case
Our In-person Impression
Inspired by Tudor’s naval history and fitted with the in-house TUDOR Calibre MT5601, the BBB line is essentially a dive watch collection that is inspired by the brand’s divers’ watches that were produced in the 1950’s.
Just like my BB58 Navy Blue, the Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43 also features the iconic angular hands — “Snowflake” — that again while being a feature of the end 1960s, manage to look contemporary and modern. Perhaps one of the most distinctive differences between the Black Bays and the big brother Rolex Submariners is the absence of crown-guards protecting the winding crowns on the former, a design element that again harps back to the first generations of Tudor dive watches.
The true magic here lies in the brand’s ability to present us with a design language whose foundations are some 70-odd years old, yet the final product has stemmed into a handsome, modern day timepiece. The subdued looks, excellent proportions and geometry, and exceptional legibility are what first draw you in.
Will You Like It
Let me be clear from the onset; as much as I love the aesthetics of this watch, and given I don’t own a single bronze watch, I like many others am still waiting for a smaller diameter variation. In terms of looks, I wouldn’t change a thing; but owing to my slimmer, roughly 16cm wrists, the large 43mm case with ~52.5mm lug-to-lug spacing is frankly big.
The Tudor BBB 43 is also relatively thick at 14.5mm and doesn’t have lug design language where their shape helps reduce the overall appearance and dimensions of the watch. Take for instance the Omega Worldtimer; it is larger in diameter with 43.5mm sizing but overall sits smaller with ~50mm lug-to-lug spacing. Or the F.P. Journe Chronograph Monopoussoir Rattrapante. It is again larger coming in at 44mm in diameter, but due to absence of lugs, only 12.1mm thickness and less than 50mm lug-to-lug spacing, it sits rather snuggly on my nearly 16cm wrist.
In the case of the Tudor BBB, the watch is big, but also has a definite personality to go with it. So for someone like me, this would be pushing it, but for anyone with 17cm or above wrist size, this is an excellent offering. It’s a stunner with a solid wrist presence. No doubt.
Do We Like It
Damn, what’s not to like?! For the price of only $5’650 AUD, one gets:
- An in-house movement with silicon hardware that is COSC-certified
- Five-year transferable guarantee with no registration or periodic maintenance checks required
- (Unofficial) 10-year service interval
- 200m water-resistance and power reserve of ~ 70-hours
- Unidirectional rotatable bezel with 60-minute graduated disc
- Sapphire crystal
- Brand recognition
- Excellent wrist presence and legibility
- Daily-wear, beater watch capability (barring the hard-to-find-replacement-straps with 23mm interhorn lug spacing)
- And I have to mention the looks again; it is a stellar looking timepiece, and for those who are not allergic to a bit of bronze on their skin, the Tudor BBB 43 should be a must have
Keeping with the price theme, I reasonably feel that only two other watches compete directly with the Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43: the Longines Heritage Automatic Bronze and the TAG Heuer Autavia Calibre 5.
I know there are a plethora of cheaper and more pocket-friendly options out there, from brands such as Christopher Ward, Baltic, Yema among others, but for those looking for a Swiss brand with name recognition and brand legacy, it is this trio from Tudor, Longines and TAG Heuer that IMHO tick all the boxes.
And when it comes to the latter two, the TAG option is relatively similar priced at $5’500 AUD while the Longines option retails for a cheaper $4’475 AUD. The TAG option is also COSC-certified just like the Tudor offering while the Longines Heritage Automatic Bronze is not. Both the Longines and TAG watches are also smaller in dimensions, coming in at 42mm. At the end of the day, whichever you pick — J Farren-Price also sells Longines but the way — you won’t be going wrong with either, but personally, after handling all of them, I would go for the Tudor option.
Not just because I happen to be reviewing it, but because it’s got a very distinctive presence on the wrist. Tudor uses a highly resistant to corrosion aluminium-copper alloy with satin-brushed finishes for homogeneous development of the patina, and that makes a big difference. Also, the Longines version is a different kind of diver with an internal rotating bezel and I personally prefer external ones, and the TAG option is not what I would call to be a traditional Autavia.
The Calibre MT5601 is an automatic-winding mechanical Manufacture movement that was released in 2016 as the brand’s third in-house calibre and is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, held in place by a traversing bridge.
The 33.80mm diameter and 6.5mm thick movement is based on the Tudor caliber MT5612 — that is smaller by 2mm and is used in watches up-to 41mm in diameter — and features a hacking/stop-seconds function for accurate time changes, comprises of 25 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), and provides with an impressive 70-hour power-reserve.
It is also COSC-certified like parent company Rolex’s timepieces, meaning it is accurate within −4/+6 sec/day. This is furthermore impressive given the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) certification is roughly found in about only 3% of Swiss watches (according to good-ol’ Wikipedia).
The movement is hidden by a closed case-back, and despite being industrially finished, it features an openwork rotor that is satin-brushed with sand-blasted details, and its bridges and plate have alternating polished sand-blasted surfaces and laser decorations.
The Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43 is a good casual/sporty watch that I can see people wearing out and about when they wanna look cool but don’t give a hoot about the conditions. It’s a tough beast, but with touches of elegance.
Move beyond the charm of the patina of the bronze case, and the dial takes centre-stage. The no-date, 3-6-9 fumé slate-grey dial is a masterclass in stealth, legible dials, with the execution of the lighter to darker fade amongst the best at this price point.
While the minimalist printed outer chapter-ring with applied numerals keeps the dial clean and cluster-free, I really appreciate the use of gilt or gold-tones — in the border of the indices, outer chapter-ring, the texts at 12 and 6, the hands, the bezel knurling, the bezel markings — that bring in a sense of uniformity and tie in the various elements of the dial neatly with the bronze body. The generous amount of lume only further enhances the appeal of this dial.
Talking about uniformity, the bezel has a uniform slate grey colour that compliments the dial, and also contrasts well with the case. The bezel action is good in feel and satisfying in sound. The rose logo on the crown is an excellent touch as well, and last but not the least, the leather strap used here is comfortable and has a great aged aesthetic to it that works well with the overall package.
The Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43 ref. M79250BA-0001 is an excellent offering from the brand, but this was only a colour change on 2019, and I for one am curious what the next step in evolution for this collection would be, if and when Tudor decides to spice it up some more.
In the meanwhile, strap on this bronzed beauty and live your life with no worries. It should take pretty much anything you throw at it with ease, and look sexy while doing it. And while its doing that, it’s your turn to write your own story and let the patina do the telling.
To find out more about the Tudor Black Bay Bronze 43 and their other timepieces, please head to their website here or visit their authorised retailer J Farren-Price Sydney at 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney (02 9231 3299). All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt.