18 Months Later - The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
My wife surprised me with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze for my birthday in August of 2016. She was quite clever about it too...she used my brother/business partner to obtain the watch, then simply put it in with the rest of my watches in my watch box. Well, it was quite a surprise when I opened my watch box to find a new watch sitting there waiting to be worn.
For those of you not familiar with Tudor it is a beautiful Swiss watch brand that is owned by Rolex. To live under the shadow of the giant that is Rolex likely has not made it easy for Tudor to create their own identity. Indeed, for as long as I can remember Tudor was never really a mainstream brand, only ever mentioned in conjunction with the word "Rolex", never a lot of advertisements, and with very little distribution. The brand has been around long enough though, originally founded by Rolex's founder, Hans Wilsdorf, in 1946 and like most brands has had its ups and downs. Tudor's reentry into the American market in 2013 was the beginning of something new.
In my opinion, today's Tudor really became important with the introduction of the Heritage Black Bay collection. The launch of this collection in 2012, drawing on heritage and design from the 1950's Tudor Submariner, has quickly and easily become the most popular collection within the brand of Tudor. The line has expanded and grown quickly over the few short years of its existence, adding new bezel colours, materials, and even a new in-house calibre movement. For a watch brand to offer a watch with an in-house 3 hand movement under $4000 CAD is somewhat unbelievable. It would seem that most brands that can actually produce a mechanical movement in-house tend to stick to more complicated movement types, therefore driving the retail price up - Breitling and TAG Heuer are two that come to mind with their B01 and Heuer 01 chronograph movements respectively. Why some brands have an aversion to making basic 3 hand movements in-house is beyond me. I assume it has to do with money.
The Heritage Black Bay Bronze was introduced at Baselworld in March of 2016 to much fanfare. When I saw it in person I must admit I was quite taken with it. Indeed, when I texted my wife pictures I believe she fell in love with it as well; unfortunately due to its 43mm case size it is a smidge big on her wrist. Bronze is a material that is not often used in watches with most brands leaning towards using 316L stainless steel or precious metals. Depending on what the material is exposed to, bronze can change colour in ways that are not always appealing - think "green splotches." Tudor, however, came up with a patented formula that would ensure that the patina effect would happen evenly and consistently, and ultimately, beautifully.
My experience with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze has been awesome. I love wearing the watch as my 'weekend warrior' - it is ideal to wear with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. As I spend most of my time in a suit I tend to wear my Rolex or OMEGA as the Bronze just seems to clash with dress clothes. I've tried it a few times while wearing a suit and I feel I'm almost self-conscious about it. However, when I'm on vacation I love to wear the Bronze as it does not have a date feature, just time. Because when you're on vacation, who wants to know the date anyways!
The watch itself has performed perfectly. As I don't wear it often, whenever I do go to wear it I need to wind it up - I do not own a watch winder. Once the crown is unscrewed you can manually wind the mainspring in the movement. Having wound many movements over the years you can get a feel for the quality of the movement inside the watch just from how it feels while you wind it. For example, on an imitation Rolex, one of the tells that it is not authentic is that when you go to wind whatever it is inside the watch, it feels like you are trying to twist metal around itself. Higher calibre movements have a smooth action and just the right amount of tension. The timekeeping aspect itself has been fantastic. As a COSC certified movement, the calibre #MT5601 is tested for 15 days, in 5 different positions, at 3 different temperatures. COSC is the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, a not-for-profit organization that certifies the accuracy and precision of timepieces. The end result must be that the movement must be within -4/+6 seconds per day. Given that I wear the watch maybe 2 days in a week, I've never noticed any deviation in time, which means that it is working perfectly for my needs.
I am excited to see where Tudor is going. The level of quality they put into their product, and their willingness to try new things is exciting. My hope for Tudor is that they become a dominant brand in the $1000-$5000 CAD price point, as most brands seem to have completely left this category alone. TAG Heuer has basically dominated this price point for a long time if you are looking for a sporty-type watch, so it would be nice to see what another awesome brand like Tudor can do.
Probably my only concern with Tudor is their partnership with celebrities. I can only imagine how much it must have cost them to acquire David Beckham, Lady Gaga, and the entire New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks. I understand the marketing behind this, but in my experience, these partnerships can distract a company from their main purpose, in this case building a luxury timepiece at a reasonable price. Partnerships like these cost lots of money, and that money can only come from the sales of their timepieces. Personally, I would rather see that money go into their product mix rather than into buying celebrities to endorse their product. My guess is that this type of marketing works, seeing as how every brand does it, but I am a bit of a purist when it comes to that sort of thing. One thing is for sure though, with these types of A-list celebrities wearing Tudor watches, word will get out and more people will be asking for the brand.