Since the introduction of two important watches within the Tudor collection, namely the Black Bay GMT and the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, the watch community has somehow been asking for a mix of the two concepts. Basically, a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight GMT. And somehow, this could have existed, yet Tudor decided to spice things up a little bit. And the result is this watch, the Tudor Black Bay Pro. Yes, it’s 39mm like the BB58. And yes, it has a GMT function, like the BB Pepsi. But no, it’s not just a simple blend of these two. What the BB Pro is is actually fairly different, rather cool, very much a tool watch that can do it all. And, at least to me, it really is one of the best instrument watches I’ve seen this year. But being a fan of the Explorer II (older models, of course, not the huge modern versions), this watch somehow speaks to me. Even though, we’ll see, it isn’t perfect either.
If I had to make it short, the new Tudor Black Bay Pro is the perfect adventure watch. It’s robust, legible, it features a GMT complication for travelling, it can dive, it’s meant to be used and abused, it’s fully equipped… Basically, the kind of one-watch collection you’d like to have for weekends and leisure activities. The only thing it can’t really do is being a week/business watch to be worn with a formal attire. But then again, fewer and fewer of us are actually wearing a suit at work. A do-it-all, wear-it-everywhere watch. Let’s have a look at the details.
Not a BB58 with GMT…
As said, the new Black Bay Pro isn’t exactly what some of the brand’s enthusiasts have expected. There was a clear demand for a smaller sized BB GMT (as a reminder, a 41mm watch with a 14.6mm thickness and quite a lug-to-lug presence), which could have been done within the BB 58 case with a bidirectional rotating bezel. But, Tudor thought differently and created what’s indeed a more compact GMT watch, yet with a slightly different interpretation. We’re here moving away from the traditional codes of the dive watch world or classic GMT inspirations, to go into basically the same concept as a Rolex Explorer II. And that means an adventure instrument watch, which isn’t meant for a specific purpose but is good for many things. A few diving credentials, some travelling capacities, a robustness that makes it suitable for exploration or any rough terrain, or even a sky-compliant design.
Basics… The Tudor Black Bay Pro is a 39mm watch with the classic case of the collection. It’s made of 316L stainless steel, it’s mostly brushed with polished bevels, and the sides of both the case and the bracelet are also polished. Nothing new here, at least for the central part of the case. The same can be said about the caseback, which is of low interest visually, only worth mentioning it’s screwed and in conjunction with the screw-down crown, the Black Bay Pro is rated as a 200m water-resistant watch. Speaking of the crown, you’ll notice something quite special – and no, I’m not talking about the rose logo engraved, but its actual shape. The crown has a new design, where the thin fluted profile and aluminium tube have been replaced by a classic, more deeply notched crown… the Rolex way if you like, as it used to be the case in the past.
Framing the classic domed sapphire crystal, a recurring element on all Black Bay watches that participates in the retro look of the collection, is a new bezel. No bidirectional rotating steel bezel with aluminium insert, but instead a fixed steel bezel, finished with a handsome radial brushed surface and an engraved, black-filled 24h scale that is certainly reminiscent of the bezel found of the first-generation Explorer II reference 1655. No doubt that this element is one of the main reasons for the coolness of this watch. It’s quite surprising to see it used on a Tudor, but since Rolex isn’t making many references to the past in its modern collections, the Rose is certainly a good vector to bring back some of the Crown’s coolest design cues.
Let’s now address the main topic of discussion about this Tudor Black Bay Pro… Its thickness. We’ve seen multiple comments on our own channels and on Instagram regarding the fact that the case was high. Surely, and even though we were not able to precisely measure it (not really an option during a watch fair), the case is about 14.5mm/14.6mm in height, which is coincidentally the exact same as the Black Bay GMT Pepsi. This isn’t a surprise, since the two share the same movement and the same water-resistance. So yes, this Black Bay Pro is quite thick, more than a BB58 for sure (which is about 12mm in height), but not overly thick either. This is more a feeling, a visual sensation due to the more compact case and the fact that Tudor tends to make casebands that go down to the caseback, and do not use domed casebacks. So all in all, yes the watch has some heft but once on the wrist, it isn’t thicker than a classic 41mm GMT or a Black Bay 41 Diver.
Let’s now talk about the dial and the fact that it has quite some special features. At first, it feels classic, with a domed profile and a matte grained texture over a black colour. There’s a railroad minute track on the periphery, the modern shield logo and brand name at 12 o’clock, and 3 lines of text at 6 o’clock, including a yellow depth rate. Also, the applied markers feel familiar, with a combination of dots, rectangles and a triangle at 12 o’clock. Except that… these applied markers are not metallic and later filled with luminous paint. These are made from blocks of luminous ceramic, with a slight cream colour. And the 3D effect not only looks very cool but also enhances the technical, instrumental design of the watch. The hands are typical Tudor, with a Snowflake profile and large amounts of Grade A Super-LumiNova.
Most importantly, the Tudor Black Bay Pro is first and foremost a dual-time watch, with an independent 24h hand that can be used either to display an additional time zone or to indicate if it’s day or night. The indication is here displayed thanks to a yellow Snowflake hand, again a tribute to some glorious vintage GMT watches of the mother-brand… The function is a so-called real GMT, where it’s the local time hand (the main, shorter, cream-coloured Snowflake hand) that moves in one-hour increments, either backwards or forwards. The date, an indispensable function on a GMT watch (agree with me or not, but the date is needed here), is displayed through an aperture positioned at 3 o’clock and is, of course, coupled with the local time hand. Overall, legibility is great, night or day. And all settings are done by the crown.
As often with watches by Tudor, you’ll have multiple strap/bracelet options for the Black Bay Pro. First, and probably the most relevant, is a steel bracelet. It comes with the classic riveted profile, is entirely brushed on flat surfaces and features a folding clasp. Interestingly, the latter is fitted with the T-fit micro-adjustment system (extension up to 8mm in five positions), which was first introduced on the BB58 Bronze. The Black Bay Pro is also available with a hybrid strap in black rubber and fabric with a folding clasp, or with a black-and-yellow Jacquard fabric strap made by Julien Faure in France.
Inside the Tudor Black Bay Pro is the same movement as the Black Bay GMT, namely the manufacture Calibre MT5652 made by long-time partner Kenissi. This automatic movement is chronometer-certified by COSC and fitted with an anti-magnetic silicon hairspring. Also, the variable inertia balance is held in place by a robust transversal bridge. The movement beats at 4Hz and stores up to 70 hours of power reserve, once fully wound by its bidirectional rotor. Regarding the precision, even though COSC standards are between -4 and +6 seconds, Tudor insists on between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its running when watches are completely assembled. A well-known movement, which has proven reliable and precise, and is here fitted with a practical GMT function. Its 7.52mm height certainly participates in the overall thickness of the watch.
Thoughts on the Tudor Black Bay Pro
Being a fan of the older versions of the Explorer II, I’ll certainly give here a biased opinion, at least when it comes to the looks. With its combination of super-robust case, proper water-resistance, more compact diameter and, mostly, this very cool fixed, radially-brushed 24h bezel and yellow GMT hand, I must say that this BB Pro certainly is one of the most appealing tool/instrument watches I’ve seen recently. It has it all, can do it all and even looks rather stunning in the metal.
Now, if you look at the facts, Tudor has once again brought here an impressive package. The overall execution of the watch is precise and very neat. The BB Pro is fully equipped, with a chronometer manufacture movement, new innovative materials on the dial and a bracelet that is not only cool looking but also comfortable, solid and adjustable. It’s anti-magnetic, it can dive, it has a practical GMT function, and is packed with historical references that will speak to watch nerds like me, or even to a wider audience looking for a fun looking tool watch.
It’s hard to say, but there’s not much to complain about here, especially when considering the price at which Tudor is retailing this watch. The height of the case will certainly push some away, but not me. And the look of this Black Bay Pro is definitely different from the BB58 GMT some were expecting, so it might not be as consensual as a more classic Pepsi watch. But on my side, I truly love this new Tudor…
Availability & Price
The Tudor Black Bay Pro reference 79470 will be available from the brand’s retailers in the coming 2 to 3 weeks. It won’t be limited in production or numbers and will be priced at EUR 3,750 on the steel bracelet and EUR 3,450 on the two strap options. It comes with a five-year transferable guarantee. For more details, please visit www.tudorwatch.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.