Tudor replica has expanded its popular Black Bay Fifty-Eight series of dive watches. The latest addition is a blue version with a manufacture caliber and a moderately sized 39-mm case that has already won the “Challenge” watch award at last November’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). How does Tudor’s new entry fare in our test?
The Tudor label has been trendy in recent years and can look back on a steadily growing fan base. Rolex’s second brand was stagnant for many years, but since 2009, Tudor has begun accelerating again. Tudor’s history, which is rich in characteristic design, is being emphasized in the brand’s newly launched retro models. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay super clone, which looks back to Tudor’s early dive replica watches for sale, was released in 2012. Its debut was followed by the premiere of the smaller Black Bay Fifty-Eight in 2018. The blue version, which we are testing here, was unveiled in 2020.
The name “Fifty-Eight” refers to 1958, the year in which Tudor introduced its first divers’ watch, Reference 7924, known as the “Big Crown.” The new watch’s diameter of 39 mm corresponds to the dimensions of the case of the historical model. In other respects, too, this new version, at first glance, actually looks like a vintage watch, an antique model. It even looks somewhat delicate, thanks to the rotating bezel and the smaller dial.
The vintage impression is further underscored by the domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, which is highly curved along its rim like the acrylic crystals of models from previous decades. The dial, too, is slightly convex like the faces of classic antique watches. The narrow strap lugs and the typography on the rotatable bezel also allude to Tudor’s history. The designers even opted to omit a date display, thus completing the historical impression.
Old Tudor dive replica watches with so-called “snowflake” hands have become famous and are eagerly sought after at auctions. The nickname derives from the squares at the tips of the hour hand and seconds hand: each is rotated 45 degrees and somewhat resembles a stylized snowflake. This detail first appeared on the tips of the hands toward the end of the 1960s and was retained thereafter.
In 1956, French naval divers turned to Tudor to find the ideal divers’ watch for their purposes. Tudor subsequently became the official supplier to French military frogmen. The combat divers opted for blue rather than black dials in the mid-1970s. Our Tudor copy watch with blue dial and blue aluminum dive-time scale recalls these timepieces. The aluminum scale is not as scratch-resistant as its ceramic counterparts, but its matte surface goes better with this model’s vintage styling.
All in all, top quality copy Tudor has succeeded in creating a very handsome and harmonious retro watch that looks even more timeless thanks to its blue color and the fact that it forgoes the golden hands and hour indexes that are usually installed on the dials of other high imitation Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight models. Fortunately, functionality was not allowed to fall by the wayside: large luminous indexes and plenty of luminous material on the hands guarantee outstanding legibility by day and by night. The easily grasped crown decouples from the winding mechanism when screwed shut, thus protecting the latter. The time is easy to set thanks to the stop-seconds function and the absence of a date display, which accordingly eliminates the crown’s first extracted position.
The unidirectional rotatable bezel clicks into place in single-minute increments. It, too, is easy to grasp and to turn thanks to its finely serrated rim. The bezels of early models had some play and sounded tinny when they clicked into place, but Tudor has made significant improvements: this watch’s bezel clicks almost as authoritatively into place as do its counterparts on watches made by Tudor’s big sister, Rolex. A luminous triangular index enables the wearer to read the dive time even in dark conditions or murky water. This Black Bay is also fully suitable for diving thanks to its case, which is water resistant to 200 meters, and its water-resistant textile strap.
The watch’s blue fabric strap is lightweight and durable and has a gray stripe along its midline. It is sewn using a traditional method that relies on historical machines. The handsome pin buckle is styled to resemble the shield shape of Tudor’s coat-of-arms logo. Like the case, the clasp juxtaposes polished and satin-finished surfaces.
The textile strap is permeable to air, which contributes to its comfort on the wrist. Flat textile straps often look out of place on watches with tall cases, but that is not an issue here: the strap suits the Black Bay well and enhances its overall vintage appearance.
The strap runs across the back of the case and therefore largely covers it, but that’s not a problem here because, unfortunately, this cheap Tudor copy watches doesn’t have a glass back, so manufacture Caliber MT5402 won’t be seen by the buyer and can only be admired by the watchmaker who unscrews the fully threaded steel back and opens the case for maintenance or repairs. The movement is particularly impressive because it upholds Tudor’s traditional virtues of precision and robustness. The brand fulfills the former claim by having each movement tested by the official Swiss chronometer-testing authority, COSC. This exam certifies, among other criteria, that the average daily rate deviation remains in a narrow range between –4 and +6 seconds.