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Hands-On: Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight ‘BB58’ Blue Watch


Swiss Tudor has another easy-to-admire hit on its hands with the Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight Blue reference M79030B, which aBlogtoWatch debuted here. With vintage style, modern construction, and trendiness to the umpteenth degree given today’s tastes, this blue version of the medium-sized Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight leaves rather little to complain about. The worst thing you can say about a conservative timepiece such as this is, “Oh, wait, is that new?” It does, indeed, feel like a watch that has been part of the Tudor Black Bay collection all this time — and yet a blue-dialed version of the Black Bay Fifty Eight (BB58) is brand new for 2020. Let’s take a look at what makes this diver’s-style watch special and how it compares to the hype.

Tudor’s standard Black Bay is a 41mm-wide modern take on the vintage Tudor Submariner collection. Tudor is part of the Rolex watch family and, historically speaking, they each produced watches known as the Submariner. Tudor’s versions had distinctive “snowflake” hour hands — in contrast to the “Mercedes” emblem-style hands on the Rolex Submariner models. When the original Black Bay hit the market, it was immediately appreciated for its handsome vintage-style, excellent quality-to-price ratio, and appeal to both novice and mature watch enthusiasts and collectors. The Black Bay Fifty Eight was released as a mid-sized Black Bay, measuring in at 39mm-wide, and is proportionally smaller in other respects as compared to the larger Black Bay model. aBlogtoWatch did a full review of the Tudor Black Black Fifty Eight watch here with the original black-dialed reference M79030N version.

While I tend to like 40mm-wide-plus watches, I think a common observation about the larger Tudor Black Bay is that it feels a bit thick and slightly off when it comes to overall proportions. It just feels too beefy to be as correctly identified as a fully vintage-themed modern sports watch. The Black Bay Fifty Eight (Why could they not have just called it the “Black Bay Thirty Nine” to avoid confusion?) is proportionally more attractive at 39mm-wide and about 12mm-thick, as opposed to the wider and thicker 41mm-wide model. Proportions mean a whole lot when it comes to watch design and visual aesthetics. That means sometimes a smaller watch is a better option if the overall composition benefits from a more harmonious overall sense of proportions. That is the case here (no pun intended).

The 39mm-wide case is in steel and finely finished, as anything from the Rolex/Tudor family should be. The case is water-resistant to 200 meters and has a “vintage-style” raised sapphire crystal that is meant to look a bit like historic acrylic crystals. This does bolster the vintage theme, but at the same time, it also has the tendency to increase glare on the crystal (though it doesn’t negatively affect legibility too much). Rolex and Tudor seem to be allergic to putting AR-coating on the top of crystals (as they are loathe that the coatings might wear off and get ugly), and one slight benefit of this is that the crystals are a bit “shiny,” which is an unspoken thing people tend to like a little bit in a luxury product, as it helps a watch be just that much more eye-catching.

Around the crystal is a uni-directional rotating bezel with a mighty healthy-sounding (and feeling) tactile click at each minute marker. The bezel itself is very finely machined, which is something you can easily see in the precision of the peripheral “teeth,” as well as the design of the lume pip at the 60-minute market with its rounded metal housing. Another excellent case detail is the very substantial crown stem. The Black Bay collection (including the BB58) lacks crown guards (for style reasons). To get around this, Tudor engineered a very beefy crown stem that is meant to protect the stem both when the crown is screwed down and when it is screwed out. This is probably one of the most durable (if not the most durable) crown stems I’ve seen currently on the market.

Going back to the rotating bezel, the insert is a matte blue aluminum. This is one of the few quips I have because, for the money, I think a lot of people would like to see Tudor adopt ceramic bezels, just as Rolex did. Ceramic bezels can be created to match the iconic look of an aluminum bezel but are going to offer more color permanence and scratch resistance. The blue bezel is slightly different but similar to the matte blue color of the Black Bay Fifty Eight Blue’s dial. The face of the watch is a beautiful assortment of properly-sized hands, sufficient contrast, and an attractive mixture of shapes to be both useful as a timepiece and pleasing to the eyes.

This is a time-only dial, meaning it offers the minutes, hours, and seconds (all lume-painted) with no date window (which isn’t a thing on the Black Bay watch family as it is). No-date watches are preferred by many enthusiasts because of the cleaner, symmetrical dial as compared to those with a cut-out date window. Otherwise, the dial is clean and useful, though I think more than a few people agree that Tudor could have done without the “Officially Certified” text statement on the dial under the “Chronometer” label. Any watch that is labeled a Chronometer must be officially certified so the statement is needlessly redundant. Yes, this is what Rolex puts on its dials, as well — but those are other watches that are typically looked down upon by watch lovers for having “excessive dial text.” Having said that, an extra line of text on the dial is hardly a reason to avoid being interested in an otherwise very pleasing timepiece product.

The 39mm-wide case has one of the finest steel finishing jobs for the price. The case combines polished and brushed surfaces with the addition of polished anglage (angles) on the lugs. This isn’t anything revolutionary in design, but it is some of the finest results you can see in a timepiece (if not the best) at this price point. Over on the crown is the Tudor “rose” logo etched into the side.

Inside the Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight watches is the in-house-made Tudor caliber MT5402. This automatic movement operates at 4Hz with a non-magnetic balance spring and boasts a full 70 hours of power reserve. It also has a free-sprung balance wheel, if I recall correctly, and as the name on the dial implies, the MT5402 automatic movement is designated as a COSC-certified Chronometer. In overall tests, the MT5402 and related Tudor movements tend to offer exceptional performance accuracy as pared with much of the competition. At this price point, it isn’t impossible (any longer) to find watches with in-house movements in them, but the Tudor movements are said to be appreciably more reliable. What most people will enjoy is the longer 70-hour power reserve, which is nearly twice as long as the power reserve in most ETA-powered automatic timepieces.

On the wrist, the Black Bay Fifty Eight is comfortable and does not feel too small, in my opinion, given the case thickness. Sure, there are going to be larger-wristed folks that simply can’t pull this off. That said, the number of people regularly asking for ~38-40mm-wide classic-looking diver’s watches means that Tudor will have plenty of takers with this particular size. While not as showy as the 41mm wide-Black Bay models, the 39mm-wide BB58 makes up in great proportions (as mentioned above) given its more “out of the way” wearing experience that allows it to actually serve as a sports watch more effectively.

Tudor offers three versions of the reference M79030B Black Bay Fifty Eight Blue that vary with regard to the strap. The reference M79030B-0001 comes on the excellent matching steel “rivet” bracelet, while this M79030B-0003 comes on the bespoke Tudor NATO-style strap that features a blue nylon textile strap with high-quality Tudor steel buckle and hardware. The BB58 reference M79030B-0002 comes on a blue leather strap and is the same price as this M79030B-0003 on the NATO-style strap.

As a daily wear sports watch for someone who likes vintage looks in a modern package, there is no deficit of options these days, even among the major luxury watch brands. Tudor has some of the best values in town, and I think for people who prefer this medium size, the Tudor BB58 has much of the same (if not just a bit more) appeal than the larger standard Black Bay model. Retail price for the Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight Blue (BB58) seen here on the NATO-style strap as the reference M79030B-0003 is $3,375 USD. Price on the matching steel bracelet with the reference M79030B-001 is just $3,500 USD. Learn more at the Tudor website here.

What do you think?


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