Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight: a stunning spin on the vintage dive watch

By Jason Swire, August 8 2018
Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight: a stunning spin on the vintage dive watch

The Black Bay Fifty Eight is a landmark watch release from Tudor, providing the smallest and slimmest true dive watch from the brand since the Tudor Submariner (ref 7924) launched in 1958 – hence the name bestowed upon the Black Bay Fifty Eight.

But that's not the only part of the Fifty Eight's diver DNA. While the rest of the Black Bay collection offers vintage styling in modern proportions, the new Black Bay Fifty Eight is a thoroughly vintage watch in both style and form.

This will appeal to buyers with more slender wrists, and those who want the elegance of a 50's era diver with the reliability and accuracy of a modern timepiece.

The story

Tudor was launched back in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf as a companion to his primary brand Rolex, and early Tudor watches closely mimicked their Rolex counterparts.

The first major step Tudor took to establish its own identity was replacing Rolex's signature Mercedes-style hands with its now-emblematic Snowflake hands, developed for enhanced underwater legibility based on feedback and testing by divers in the Marine Nationale French Navy.

In 2012 Tudor began to emerge from Rolex's shadow with a highly successful Black Bay collection of vintage-themed divers.

The style

Tudor's standard Black Bay collection wears quite large, due to the case size of 41mm wide by 14.75mm thick, which not only detracts somewhat from the vintage theme but makes it unsuitable for wearers with modest wrists.

On the Black Bay Fifty Eight the case is reduced to a rather svelte and slim-wrist-friendly 39mm by 11.9mm. It's interesting to note that a modern Rolex Submariner (ref 114060) splits the difference between the Black Bays at 40mm by 12.5mm – so no matter your size preference, the Tudor-Rolex stable now has you covered for divers.

The secret to this slimmer profile is Tudor's all-new manufacture movement which makes its debut in the Black Bay Fifty Eight. The MT5402 measures a mere 26mm in diameter, and yet still boasts COSC chronometer certification for accuracy and a stellar 70 hours of power reserve.

To put this in context, the MT5602 movement featured in previous Black Bay watches measures a hefty 31.8mm, while the Rolex Submariner 3130 movement clocks in at 28.5mm.

This small movement is a big step for Tudor and you can expect to see it power more 'classically-proportioned' timepieces in the years to come.

Beyond its perfect proportions, the Black Bay Fifty Eight that nails all the details. The crown tube is presented in plain satin-brushed steel, without the colouring present in previous Black Bays.

The bezel numerals, hour indexes and hands feature a pink-gilded finish coated in cream coloured "faux-vintage" luminous material.

At first glance the Fifty Eight this may look like any another Black Bay, but this combination of well-executed vintage elements makes this watch a standout within the collection, not only offering compelling value compared to big brother Rolex but with a more elegant profile to boot.

The details

• In-house mechanical movement MT5402 with automatic winding
• Unidirectional rotatable bezel in steel with 60-minute graduated disc in matt black anodised aluminium and pink gilded markings and numerals
• Steel screw-down winding crown with the Tudor rose in relief, with circular satin-brushed steel winding crown tube
• Black dial, covered with a domed sapphire crystal
• Waterproof to 200m (660ft)
• Available on a riveted steel bracelet for AU$4,290, or on either a brown leather strap or a black fabric strap with a gold-coloured band for AU$3,910

Jason Swire

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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I've been impressed with what Tudor have been doing of late. Producing the "tool" watches at prices which Rolex used to do. With Rolex restricting supply of their steel sports models, sales at Tudor can only go up.

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