Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight: Our Guide to All the Watches
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Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight: Our Guide to All the Watches

Tudor returned to the U.S. market after a lengthy absence in 2013 and the Rolex-owned brand had its first big hit in this modern era with the launch of the Black Bay (originally the Heritage Black Bay), a stylish, sporty divers’ watch, with a plethora of historical details drawn from Tudor dive watches of yore. In 2018, in response to growing consumer demand both for more modest case sizes and for greater period authenticity in vintage-style timepieces, Tudor introduced the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which proved to hit the sweet spot for many contemporary enthusiasts. Named for the year 1958, in which Tudor released the Oyster Prince Submariner Ref. 7924, the most clear forerunner to the Black Bay, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight models match that watch’s 39mm case diameter, which is downsized from the 41mm-to-43mm sizes still common to the core Black Bay series. Since its launch, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight has become one of the most popular extensions of the expanding Black Bay collection, and has been the stage for Tudor’s recent (and historically rare) forays into the realm of precious metals.

Descended From a Prince: Black Bay DNA

Tudor Oyster Prince SubmarinerThe aesthetic origins of the Black Bay starts with the Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner, released in 1954, one year after big brother Rolex rolled out its own much more famous purpose-built dive watch, also called the Submariner. This original version, Ref. 7922, used the same “Mercedes” handset found on many Rolex models and was water-resistant to 100 meters; its successor in 1958, Ref. 7924, upped this rating to 200 meters, which is still the standard for Tudor dive watches today. Nicknamed the “Big Crown” because of its extra-large 8mm winding crown, this model underwent a series of mostly small evolutions in subsequent years, chiefly in details like the crown guards and dial verbiage, until it was replaced in 1969 by Ref. 7016,  whose newly designed, distinctive square-themed hands and markers earned it the nickname “Snowflake.” That watch remained in Tudor’s catalog until the early 1980s and provided the template for the next decade’s worth of Submariners. While each of these landmark models would lend an element of inspiration to the modern Tudor Black Bay template, it is the 1958 Oyster Prince Submariner — which established 39mm as the series’ default case size shortly after the first models were sized at 37mm — that can be identified as having the most direct lineage to the Black Bay Fifty Eight collection. Here is a breakdown of all the Black Bay Fifty-Eight models currently on the market.

Basic Black: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Refs. M79030N-0002, M79030N-0003, M79030N-0001

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Black

Price: $3,475 - $3,800, Case size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor MT5402

The first Black Bay Fifty-Eight watch from 2018, still a mainstay of the collection-within-the-collection, has a classical matte black dial with all the familiar, vintage-derived Black Bay elements, including the combination of circles, rectangles, and inverted triangle at the hour points, the “snowflake” hour hand, sword minute hand and lollipop-style central seconds hand, and gilt-printed details like the inscriptions and chapter ring. The 39mm case is in brushed and polished stainless steel, with the archetypical “big crown” that screws in securely to ensure a 200-meter water resistance, and a unidirectional dive-scale bezel whose black anodized aluminum disk features gilded dive-scale markings to match the dial elements. The original 41mm Black Bay models, which were released before Tudor starting making its own movements, contained modified ETA calibers, but Tudor has equipped the Black Bay Fifty-Eight from the beginning with the in-house Caliber MT5402, a movement developed specifically for the Fifty-Eight series’ smaller case dimensions, with a monobloc tungsten rotor, a variable inertia balance held by a traversing bridge, an antimagnetic silicon hairspring, and a COSC chronometer certification. 

Navy Blue: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Refs. M79030B-0002, M79030B-0003, M79030B-0001

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue

Price: $3,475 - $3,800, Case size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor MT5402

The Black Bay being every inch a classic dive watch, and blue tones still enjoying immense popularity among watch aficionados, a version of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight with a vibrant blue dial was the inevitable follow-up to the black-dialed original. (The original Tudor Submariner’s connection to the French navy back in the 1950s was probably also a strong motivation, as well as a hint.) That watch, the Black Bay Fifty Eight Navy Blue, dropped in 2020 as one of that pandemic-plagued year’s most crowd-pleasing new releases. Its brushed-and-polished steel case, with a blue anodized aluminum bezel insert hosting silver-gilded markings for the dive scale, frames a domed, matte navy blue dial with a grained surface. The “snowflake” hands and geometrical hour markers are treated with luminous material and the screw-down crown is engraved with a Tudor rose emblem. The self-winding MT5402 Caliber ticks away inside the case, amassing a weekend-proof 70-hour power reserve. Like its black-dialed predecessor, the Fifty-Eight Navy Blue is offered on three bracelet options: a riveted steel bracelet with the same finished surfaces as the case; a blue “soft touch” flannel-style strap; and a blue-toned Jacquard fabric NATO-strap, woven on 19th century looms by the 150-year-old French family firm Julien Faure, Tudor’s strap-making partner for over 10 years. 

Bronze Age: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Ref. M79012M-0001

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze

Price: $4,625, Case size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor MT5400

Tudor introduced bronze, a material with an on-theme history of use in maritime vessels and equipment, into the original Black Bay collection in 2017, mounting the bronze-alloy case on a brown leather strap. For the first bronze watch in the Fifty-Eight subfamily, Tudor went all-in, crafting not only a 39mm case made of bronze (contrasting with the 43mm case of the first Black Bay Bronze, the largest in the core collection) but also a rarely seen bronze bracelet. The dial, as well as the aluminum bezel insert, are executed in a warm reddish brown that harmonizes with the red-gold hue of the satin-brushed case and bracelet. The bracelet, in the three-link Oyster style characteristic of sports watches from parent brand Rolex, has been fitted with the innovative “T-fit” rapid adjustment system for the clasp, which allows the user to adjust it in five separate positions without the need for tools. The movement inside is Tudor’s Caliber MT540, which is identical in just about every respect to the MT5402 but a smidgen larger in diameter so as to better be shown off behind a sapphire display back. Finally, as fans of bronze watches know, this nearly all-bronze timepiece (the caseback is steel with bronze-colored PVD, a more skin-friendly material) will develop a unique patina over years of wear to make the watch truly one with its wearer. The watch is delivered with an additional bronze-brown NATO fabric strap. 

Silver Streak: Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight 925 Refs. M79010SG-0001, M79010SG-0002

Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight 925

Price: $4,400 Case size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor MT5400

Rolled out to great fanfare in 2021, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925, and its sibling the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K, spotlighted below, are the first members of the now-extensive Black Bay family in cases made of precious metals. The tarnish-resistant alloy used for the case of the 925 (the number refers to the 92.5 percentage of pure sterling silver in the alloy) is, like the all-bronze bracelet of the previous model, a rarity in today’s watch world, more brilliant in its gleam than steel while also slightly more dense. The taupe-colored dial and matching bezel insert are also eye-catching and create an elegant contrast with the silver-gilded elements including the dive-scale numerals and the frames of the hands and hour indexes. Automatic Caliber MT5400 beats within this very special case, in which even the crown and its tube are made of 925 silver, and does so behind a sapphire exhibition caseback, another Tudor rarity. There’s no silver bracelet (yet), but the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 is available on either a brown leather strap with a silver buckle or a taupe-colored fabric strap with a jaunty silver stripe in the middle. 

Gold Treasure: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K Ref. M79018V-0001

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K Price: $16,825, Case Size: 39mm, Case Thickness: 11.9mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5402/MT5400

The most expensive and exclusive Black Bay Fifty-Eight timepiece is the 18K edition, so named for its 39mm case made of 18k yellow gold, once the most popular gold alloy for watches and jewelry but now possessing more of a niche, retro appeal in the modern era in which rose gold reigns supreme. The case, which maintains the same 200-meter water resistance as its siblings in more conventional metals, has a brushed finish for an appropriately understated look. The familiar “snowflake” handset is also made from 18k yellow gold, making for a pleasing contrast with the deep green dial, framed by a gold bezel whose aluminum dive-scale insert is dressed in the same colors (dark green with gold-colored details). As one might expect, the watch showcases its in-house movement — the same Caliber MT5400 that powers the other non-steel variants, with a 28,800-vph frequency and 70-hour power reserve — behind its sapphire exhibition caseback. The Black Bay Fifty Eight 18k is thus far delivered only on a dark brown alligator leather strap with an 18k yellow-gold buckle, with an additional green fabric strap with a gold stripe — at least until Tudor fans are properly braced for the inevitable sticker shock of a version on a full-yellow-gold Oyster bracelet.

For more history behind the Tudor Black Bay, and an overview of the entire Black Bay collection, click here.

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3 Comments

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ZH
Zach H.

Not wven a Tudor fan but thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this iconic watch series which I think showcases the best of the brand in the dive watch category. thumbs up

ZH
Zach H.

*even

PH
Patrick H.

Love my M79030N. Wears amazingly. Very well balanced on bracelet. Dial is simply lovely (side note: my Longines Spirit pops a bit more) Hacking/setting action can be a little wonky at times, which surprised me, but I feel it more an endearing quirk than a fault. Classic and, dare I say, iconic part of my permanent collection!

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