Tudor is no stranger to dive watches with iconic pieces going back decades. Validated by both the French Navy (Marine Nationale) and US Navy (among other world militaries), Tudor Submariners have a well-earned reputation. Other than a minor inscription, military Tudors are almost always the same as civilian counterparts, which is a testament to quality and robustness. Following the wildly popular 41mm Black Bay series from 2012, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight debuted in 2018 with a smaller case and new movement. Originally clad in black and gold, the latest BB58 Navy Blue has a fresher, monochromatic vibe with a blue dial and bezel.
Blue is Black
Although the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue is simply a new colour variant, it really changes the personality. Blue is by no means a new colour for Tudor as models like the Pelagos Blue and 41mm Black Bay Midnight Blue attest, and this is a welcome addition to the BB58 line. And while it may be a blued-out version of the original Black Bay Fifty-Eight, it bears a strong resemblance to the blue Tudor Submariner Snowflake from the 1970s. Like its sister company, Rolex, Tudor’s (new) design language maintains a consistency that stands the test of time.
I personally found the 2018 gilt BB58 a bit old fashioned with its liberal use of gold on black (I might be in the minority on this), but the navy blue version with silver accents has a more contemporary, dare I say youthful presence that I find more appealing. If it’s variety you’re after, the larger Black Bay series has you covered with multiple colour options, bronze cases and Rolex-ish variants like the GMT Pepsi Bezel. For the burgeoning BB58 series, however, blue is the best (to me).
The stainless steel case has both a polished and satin finish with bevelled lugs and comes in at 39mm in diameter and 11.9mm in height (47mm lug to lug). That’s noticeably smaller than the standard Black Bay’s 41mm diameter and much thinner than its hefty 15mm height, resulting in a more vintage feel. When the larger Black Bay launched in 2012, it was key to Tudor’s comeback, along with the Pelagos and Heritage Chrono.
The Black Bay collection is Tudor’s bestseller and clearly the turning point in its historic yet (recently) troubled history. The new Black Bay Fifty-Eight harkens back to the 1958 Submariner 7924 (hence BB58), although the case is still 2mm larger than the original’s 37mm. I’m fine with that as it’s smaller without being “too small,” especially for a contemporary diver.
Proper diving credentials
Going back to the case, it has a domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating surrounded by a unidirectional rotating bezel with an anodized aluminium insert. The colour, of course, is matte blue with silver Arabic numerals every ten minutes and a detailed 15-minute scale. It turns with a very refined 60 clicks. The triangular marker at 12 o’clock is a matching silver with a luminescent pearl, replacing the red triangle on the 41mm models. I prefer that bit of consistency.
The oversized crown has Tudor’s rose emblem in relief, but a subtle difference from the 41mm model is with the tube between it and the case. It’s uncoated steel on the BB58, but colour-matching (to the bezel) on the standard models. It’s easy to both pull and turn, but I can’t help but think that a bezel-matching blue would’ve been a nice touch. This is a proper diver, so the crown screws down and the case is water-resistant to 200 metres. You’ll only need more for saturation diving.
The dial is virtually unchanged from the larger Black Bay models, other than the matte blue and silver accents. The blue is toned down a bit from the Pelagos, giving it a more “mature” aesthetic. Put this dial side-by-side with a vintage 1960s Submariner and the main difference you’ll see is with the hands. The now popular Tudor snowflake hour hand (since 1969) was a “Rolex” Mercedes hand back in the day.
Bold, applied circular indices are complemented with stick indices at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and an inverted triangular index at 12 o’clock. All indices and the hour and minute hands are filled with white Super-LumiNova (green glow) for excellent legibility, day or night. The seconds lollipop hand has a square-shaped end with lume. As before, there’s no date window and I appreciate the lack of contrasting colours – it’s clean, classic and perfect for daily wear.
Gone are the days of modified ETA 2824 automatics and the like for older Black Bay models. The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue has a manufacture calibre MT5402 auto with a COSC chronometer rating and silicon balance spring, designed specifically for the BB58 line. It has 27 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 70-hour power reserve. Functions are simple with central hours, minutes and seconds, and the movement deliberately lacks a date complication. The bidirectional rotor is openworked with TUDOR engraved, and although everything is well finished, the movement is otherwise undecorated.
Three strap options are available for a narrower 20mm lug width, reduced from the 41mm model’s 22mm width. There’s a stainless steel riveted bracelet with folding clasp and matching polished and satin finish, blue soft-touch strap (water-resistant) with folding clasp and blue fabric strap with a silver stripe and pin buckle. All three options work very well with this model, but I’m partial to the fabric strap with that silver stripe. It not only matches the look of the watch perfectly, but also makes it even fresher and is the most comfortable option.
As I say many times, dive watches are a dime a dozen and come in all price ranges. The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight line sits in an interesting spot, above well-designed yet “budget” pieces from Oris, Hamilton and Longines, but below luxury divers from Rolex, Blancpain and Omega. The latter three just serve to reinforce how well-priced this new Tudor is. Top-notch fit and finish, purpose-built, manufacture automatic engine with a chronometer rating and silicon balance spring, and versatile 39mm diameter. It definitely punches above its weight class and although a Rolex Submariner has more prestige, it’s also twice the price. Unfortunately, ‘a la Rolex’, these are going to be hard to find (and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t help). Prepare for the ever-frustrating waiting lists or unscrupulous markups, but as they say, patience is a virtue.
The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue is available now, starting at EUR 3,160 for both strap options and EUR 3,460 for the steel bracelet. You’re getting a lot of watch for the money and this is almost a bargain. It also comes with a five-year transferrable warranty. You can see our hands-on video review of the BB58 Navy Blue here and for more information, visit Tudor’s website.