Editor’s note: We recently went hands-on with a number of Tudor novelties, and you can read about them here, here, here, and here. Today we look at the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono Collection for 2021. Today’s watches have been photographed with the grateful assistance of J Farren-Price Sydney and Tudor Australia. Please note that none of our posts are sponsored so if you like our work, you can support us by buying us a coffee.
Myths and Dreams
Genuine watch enthusiasts would agree; what the Tudor BB 58 is to the Rolex Submariner, the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono is to the Rolex Daytona. Affordable, available, and awesome.
This is not a shade on the Rolex professional watches, but as an enthusiast —and in this case not as a collector — there is a certain level of comfort and charm in drooling over watches that are not mythical legends but true tangible assets.
There is a Joseph Campbell quote that reads: “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths”.
The Rolex Daytona is like a myth, a watch that the enthusiast community, the public, can only dream about.
But thankfully, true to the above quote’s sentiment, the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono watches allow the public to create and achieve their own private myths.
So yes, while similar, the two new Tudor Black Bay Chrono watches do provide a glimpse of life beyond the shackles of dreaming of a Paul Newman Daytona.
They are robust, precise, handsome, legible — at least the black dial one — and most importantly, daily wearable. These new pandas won’t be faced with extinction and won’t disappoint.
The Hands-on Experience
The question ‘which of the two new Tudor Black Bay Chrono versions is the best for you’ can best be answered based on how these two panda-chronographs perform on the wrist.
But if you want it in a nut-shell, ask yourself: are you one of those who has been dreaming about the mythical Rolex Daytona? Straight up, get the panda-dial version. Want to step out from the shadows of Rolex’s Paul Newman? The new Tudor reverse-panda says goodbye to any preconceived notions about the similarities between the two, and offers a very worthy substitute.
The Body Specs
In terms of dimensions and movement specifications, they are the exact same. But side by side, the two are as different as night and day; depending upon your personal tastes, your preference will differ.
Both these read as: 41mm diameter sans crown and 44.6mm with crown/pushers, 14.4mm height without the strap — new thinner case is reduced by 1mm thanks to the reworking of the crystal and movement — and 16.4mm with the bund strap, 50.7mm lug-to-lug, and feature a 22mm lug interhorn spacing.
On my ~16cm wrist, despite the over 50mm lug-to-lug spacing, there was minimal overhang thanks to the lugs curving a fair bit, and visually more so in the black dial version.
The white dial version looks big no doubt: as a guide, it gives the appearance of the same dimension on a fabric strap as the black one gives on a bund.
For context, we can look at the new Tudor BB58 925, Black Bay Ceramic ‘Darth Vader’, and BB Bronze. The former measures in at smaller 39mm diameter, slimmer 13.2mm height, shorter 47.2mm lug-to-lug, and 20mm interhorn spacing. There is a visible difference in the sizing, and for reference, I reckon the BB58 collection fits me absolutely perfectly.
Now take the Black Bay Ceramic; its dimensions are: same 41mm diameter, thicker 15.6mm height, larger 51.2mm lug-to-lug spacing, but only 20mm interhorn spacing. But despite featuring a larger body, it fits the same or slimmer visually on my wrist.
The biggest difference in all of these watches to note is the thickness and the strap width sizing: the ones with only 20mm work much better on slimmer wrists, and also adds a sense of sleekness to the appearance. Being 22mm on the BB Chrono, it adds bulk.
Finally, let’s look at the Bronze: it reads as larger 43mm diameter, similar 14.5mm height, larger 53mm lug-to-lug and an even larger 23mm. Thanks to these, it is noticeably larger than say the new BB 18K.
The new Tudor Black Bay Chrono watches have the same quality, of looking larger than they are.
That said, out of the two, I reckon for those with larger wrists, the new Tudor Black Bay Chronos in white will be an excellent fit. And for those with slimmer wrists such as myself it’s pushing it a bit and the black dial is definitely preferred.
Another Feature That Differentiates
Lastly, in terms of which version and strap combo suits whom, the weight of the Tudor Chrono collection is also something to consider: 107g on a NATO, 122g with the bund strap and 186g on the bracelet.
I do like that thanks to the various bracelet options, those who like light-weight watches such as myself and those who long to feel the weight, both groups are catered for.
In regards to comparison with other chronograph watches in the market, there are a million versions to look at.
With very entry-level ones like the Dan Henry 1937 to rather high-end ones like the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph, there is something for everyone. Other options I can think of would be the Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope, Hamilton Intra-Matic Chrono, Frederique Constant Flyback Manufacture, some TAG Heuer Carreras, Cartier Rotonde Chronograph, Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955, and the Patek Philippe 5170R-010 to name a few.
But for the purpose of this review, we will restrict ourselves to the competitive landscape provided by select panda-style chronographs.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term — I hope my mother is reading this somewhere and learns this — panda watches are those that feature white/opaline/silvered or creamy dials with two chronograph counters usually in black to bring contrast and mimic a panda’s face. In the same vein, reverse-panda watches are those that feature a darker dial background with light coloured ‘panda-eyes’ chronograph counters.
Also please note that I am deliberately leaving out Omega Speedmaster from this list. That comparison is another article of its own.
Tudor vs Tudor
The most obvious comparison choice for me would the existing chronograph models in Tudor’s catalogue. The two-tone version — photographed below — retails between 7’900 AUD to 9’540 AUD. It is a more ‘premium’ looking version thanks to the use of precious material and is priced as such.
On the other hand, the Tudor Heritage Chrono comes in two options: blue and opaline dial or grey and black dial and retail between 5’750 AUD to 6’170 AUD. These feature a slightly larger case at 42mm, a different movement, lesser water-resistance of 150m and a completely different aesthetic.
By releasing a chronograph option proved between the Heritage Chrono models and the two-tone models, Tudor has further cemented their control over this price segment.
Tudor vs CFB
The new Tudor Black bay Chronos retail between 6’650 AUD to 7’070 AUD. The first watches outside Rolex/Tudor universe that comes to mind are the Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Bi-Compax watches that feature the same aesthetics — both panda and reverse-panda models available — but as an added bonus also include a much-revered Grande Date and throw in an Annual calendar complication as well, all for a little bit more 7’200 USD or ~ 9’800 AUD.
Albeit more expensive, these do offer a fair bit and for those who prefer limited edition watches and a more dressy-look for their chronographs, it is an excellent option. It also features similar dimensions of 41mm x 14.15mm.
But that said, there are a few differences: sapphire crystal case back but only 30m water-resistance, feature the calibre CFB 1972 that is out-sourced being either a Dubois-Depraz module over ETA 2892 or ETA 2984-2, and the movement provides only 42-hours of power reserve.
One of the best aspects about the Tudor is the ‘extras’ such as ‘five-year transferable guarantee with no registration or periodic maintenance checks required’, 70-hour power reserve and tool watch aesthetics that go a long way.
Tudor vs Breitling
Given the new Tudor watches still use the existing Breitling x Tudor movement, the Manufacture Chronograph Calibre MT5813 — or aka Breitling Manufacture B01 — it’s only reasonable to talk about Breitling’s competitive offerings.
The new Breitling Premier B09 Chronograph 40 from Watches & Wonders 2021 is definitely something to compare this to. Keeping on the dressy side like the CFB option, these Breitling beauties are powered by a similar movement to that of the Tudor BB Chrono.
Breitling’s calibre B09 is based on the automatic B01 and the 30 x 6.73mm movement is a manual-winding version beating at the same frequency of 4Hz, and offering a similar impressive 70-hour power reserve. It is based on their calibre B01 like I said that has previously been used mostly in limited-edition run pieces like the AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition and Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition. The movement is encased inside a slightly smaller 40mm diameter and 13.08mm thick case with a cambered sapphire crystal on top that is glare-proofed on both sides.
You also end up paying a premium for these, with the Premier B09 Pistachio dial starting at RRP of 10’990 AUD (and is minus the silicon balance spring used in Tudor’s version of the movement).
Tudor vs Hamilton Intra-Matic
I simply can’t finish a bi-compax panda-style watch review with the lower end mighty king, the Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Auto Chrono 40mm. Take for instance the ref. H38416560. For only 2’150 CHF or ~3’200 AUD — so half of Tudor’s offerings — one gets a 40mm diameter watch with a smaller and more wearable 20mm lug interhorn spacing. For those with slim wrists, it is heaven-sent.
The movement it uses is the calibre H-31 that is based on the ETA 7753. Hamilton only offers a two-year warranty though. The Intra-Matic Auto Chrono is also not COSC-certified. It is less water-resistant to only 100m and offers a slightly lower 60-hour power reserve as well.
The Tudor BB Chrono also features screw-down pushers which means one can actually subject the watch to water-bound activities, which for a chronograph is rather rare (and welcome).
What Do I Reckon?
At the end of the day, all these watches are great and work differently in terms of the aesthetics they offer. I personally love the CFB Bi-Compax, but will I buy it given it’s not officially in Australia is a whole other debate. The Pistachio Breitling is simply stunning but more expensive to own (and maintain thanks to the possibility of periodic checks), while the Hamilton is a no-brainer (especially for anyone with limited funds).
And usually, when one is in the market for a particle type of watch, a certain amount of hesitation occurs, taking time to pull the trigger.
But when it comes to the solidly built watch — but not a dressy chronograph — like the new Tudor BB Chrono, it’s a no-fuss handsome package to which I can simply say off the bat, yes please.
The Tudor is a rugged tool watch, that can take pretty much take anything life throws at it, and when the dust settles, simply shrugs its shoulders and flicks the dust off, and carries on.
The current Tudor BB Chrono catalogue stands at nine variations, adding to the S&G models the new classic panda and reverse panda dials. The watches still use the Manufacture Chronograph Calibre MT5813 and come ready to play in the big leagues with added free-sprung, adjustable mass balance wheel and a silicon hairspring.
The reference 79360N retails between 6’650 to 7’070 AUD and features a COSC-certified manufacture movement, the calibre MT5813.
This 30.4mm diameter and 7.23mm thick self-winding mechanical chronograph movement with bidirectional rotor system 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), comprises 41 jewels, and offers an impressive 70-hour power reserve.
That’s All Folks!
In response to our original question, ‘which of the two new Tudor Black Bay Chrono versions is the best for you’, the answer is straightforward: in my humble opinion, the black dial reverse-panda works best for those with slimmer wrists that want an ‘’unbreakable’ tool watch with striking aesthetics and commanding wrist-presence but don’t want it to be an obvious ‘poor’ or ‘stingy’ man’s Rolex.
And the opaline dialled panda-version works best for those with larger wrists and those looking for a great value-for-money serious tool watch that can be identified from a distance as a Rolex product.
Opaline is in essence similar to the Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6239 that sold for $17.8 Million USD a couple of years ago. I have an Omega version of it, the CK2998 LE and let me tell you, with its 39.7mm case, it’s a beaut and quite practical for day to day wear. It also stands out a bit, so those who would like to gather some attention should definitely go for the opaline version.
Personally, if I was to somehow include the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono in my collection, I would go for the black dial version and despite my ~6-inch slim wrists and all the statistics above, choose the bund strap option, the ref. M79360N-0005. That’s my pick from the series, simply because I reckon it brings out the best.
There is a certain, dare I say, macho look to it, and the subtle use of red colour is really vivid. Visually, somehow the thick hour snowflake hand that obscures the counters on both models is less apparent as well. I also love the feel and shape of the screw-down pushers that appear more prominent on this set-up.
The appliqué lume-filled dot indices are also more prominent for legibility, and overall, the execution is more harmonious. Both versions feature the white date wheel with black numerals, but I prefer that on the black version.
The graininess of the dial is also more prominent in the black version, and so is the very, very hard to see azurage of the counters. In the white opaline one, these are unfortunately lost, but you do gain a certain ‘clean’ elegance instead.
The opaline version shouts Daytona from a distance and is more vintage-esque in my opinion. It’s got a retro-charm and for those who like those aesthetics, it’s a great option. Let me put it this way: the black version seems modern, while the white is more of a homage to the brand’s past DNA (which makes sense given these celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the brand’s first chronograph watch).
On the whole, the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono is damn near ideal to being a perfect chronograph at this price point, but perfect it ain’t. Though as far as looks and aesthetics go, they are fine. No issues there.
Give us — at least those with slimmer wrists — a BB58 Chrono version with a slimmer case, no Snowflake hour hand to obstruct the view, and no faux-rivets on the bracelet, and suddenly not only does Omega have a real threat but also for under 7k AUD these beauties will be unconquerable.
But despite a couple of shortcomings, it is nevertheless a stellar offering for a dynamite price.
More To Life Than ‘Paul Newman’
Coming full circle, I will end this with another reference to dreams and myths.
“If you dream the proper dreams, and share the myths with people, they will want to grow up to be like you,” said Ray Bradbury.
Tudor with the new BB Chrono not only brilliantly breaks out of the shadows of its sister company Rolex but also gives the majority of the watch enthusiast public a ‘proper dream’, that is attainable and can be ‘shared like a myth with (other) people’, and tastefully manages to imbibe the ideology of ‘growing’ to appreciate and ‘like’ Tudor even more.
To find out more about the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono collection for 2021 and other Tudor watches, 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 specified are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.