Tudor Black Bay Chrono: Hands on review

For long enough now, Tudor products have been causing a stir in the watch industry. Long enough to think that the waiting lists and premium pricing is a lot more to do with a high quality swiss manufacturer and less to do with the typical ‘Rolex’s younger brother’ stereotype that has long been with the brand, since it’s conception by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf.

The conception:

To bolster it’s already impressive arsenal of highly accurate, highly durable time pieces, in early 2021 Tudor launched a new addition to the Black Bay family. At Watches and Wonders 2021 the Black Bay Chrono (model number 79360N) burst onto the scene. With it’s striking resemblence to the renowned Daytona, it is no surprise that his model has been designed to carry the mantre, instituted from the very start of Tudor’s almost 100 year life, by Mr Wilsdorf: “I have considered the idea of making a watch that agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches and yet one that would attain the standard of dependability for which Rolex is famous.” A weighty expectation, certainly, but the Black Bay Chrono seems to handle it, without even breaking a sweat.

The Price:

It doesn’t take long to see that the Black Bay Chrono is exactly that, a watch that attains the standard of dependability that Rolex is famous for, at a modest price. If you are lucky enough to stumble across an authorised dealer that has this piece in stock but doesn’t have a waiting list from said dealer all the way to Geneva, you can pick up both stainless steel variations for a cool £3,900. That is over 2.5 times cheaper than it’s Rolex counterpart. On the second hand market the Black Bay Chrono is fetching between £4,500-£5,250. Still, less than half the RRP of a Rolex Daytona. The relative affordability of this piece really is remarkable. It opens up the Swiss watch market to countless numbers of people that would be priced out by the big Rolex brother, whilst also providing a very solid alternative to other respectable chronograph models from brands such as Tag Heuer, Omega and Breitling.

The old adage ‘you have to spend money to make money’ is applicable to pretty much anything, the watch industry does not exclude itself. The great thing about this Tudor is that it seems to break the trend of how much many you need to spend in order to make some real interest in your investment. Anyone familiar with swiss watches will know that the sought after pieces (submariners, Royal Oaks, Nautilius’) will make you the most money in terms of pure appreciation. But not everyone can afford to shell out a minimum of £8,000, if they were lucky enough to get a submariner at list price, let alone the £15k/£20k needed for a Royal Oak or Nautilus. Since the release of the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, there has been a steady increase in their aftermarket value. People know how good they are, the great value for money they are getting and the desirability of them. With a affordable retail price (£3,900) one can easily make a quick £500-£1000 flipping the Tudor, without having to break the bank to acquire one in the first place.

The movement:

As we have come to now expect with Tudor, you really do get great value for money. That trend continues with the Black Bay Chrono. The M79360N is fitted with a calibre MT5813. From 2015, Tudor has been producing high quality manufacture movements, proving excellent precision and robustness. As is standard in all Tudor manufacture calibres, the MT5813 boasts a 70 hour power reserve. Impressive, considering the chronograph is a complication that can guzzle power reserve like a high end sports car guzzles petrol. As stated on the Tudor website, the wearer can remove the watch friday evening and put it back on Monday morning, without the watch having missed a beat. Convenience and precision, two very important elements in a timepiece, both very much present with the 70 hour power reserve. A silicone balance spring provides exceptional magnetic resistance as well as robustness. Matching the more modern silicon balance spring with the traditional, the MT5813 features a column-wheel mechanism and vertical clutch for using the chronograph. To top it all off, this movement comes certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, passing the test of staying within a tolerance of -4 to +6 seconds a day.

The Materials:

Tudor cast the case in stainless steel, with most metallic features of the watch being finished in 316L stainless steel. This has then been highly polished on the edges, showing the lovely gleam that is typical of stainless steel. Polished edges are also seen on the steel bracelet, one of the features made from the 316L. The front and back of the bracelet are brushed, showcasing ths slightly darker lustre than can be observed when looking at the 904L stainless steel that the Rolex Daytonas are cast from. The Tudor bracelet appears slightly darker with a bit more of a dull shine, perhaps the absence of a polished centre link adds to this. What the bracelet lacks in shine, it makes up for in liberation. I am sure i am not the only person who, when wearing a polished watch, has been very cautious of it on their wrist, in an effort not to scratch or blemish the seemingly perfect finish of the bracelet. With the brushed 316L, you get the sense that not only is the watch meant to be worn, enjoyed and donned as a tool watch, but it wants to be worn, enjoyed and utilised. With the Black bay chrono, there isn’t the sense of guilt for really putting it through it’s paces on the wrist, like there may be with more expensive, more polished chronographs. The stopwatch function on a time piece is made to allow the watch to become a real tool, the 316L steel case and bracelet facilitate that.

The crown and chronograph pushers, like the rest of the case, are made from 316L steel and are screwed down to ensure water resistance. When all is securely locked, the watch has a water resistance of 200m. Very impressive for a ‘professional watch’ that would be expected to be used in the world of racing, but is equally as competent in diving or other water based activities. For context, racing watches like the Chopard Mille Miglia (168589-3001) and the Rolex Daytona (116500) only boast 50 and 100 metre water resistance respectively. Diving chronographs like the Omega Seamaster (210.32.44.51.01.001) and Ulysse Nardin Marine Diver (1503-151-3/92) both can be taken down to a depth of 300m whilst retaining full water resistance. The Tudor Black Bay strikes a great middle ground allowing it to be utilised in a hoast of environments.

As chronographs go, the dial of the Tudor looks pretty simple. With only 2 subdials ( a continuous seconds at 9 and minute counter at 3) the traditional hour counter for the chronograph is omitted, giving to a less congested dial. Small circular luminous hour markers adorn the inner edge of the white printed minute track, the 6 o clock being replaced by a small white date feature. The silver subdials provide a bold contrast against the black dial, whilst the aluminium style shine is enhanced by the deep matte finished of the dial. The traditional snowflake finish on the hour hand, with the standard minute hand complete the dial. Both central hands are generously covered in luminescent fill, making for great legibility in dark conditions. As before mentioned, the subdials and hour markers draw the attention with their shine and steel edging. I think this is mostly in part to the use of a aluminium bezel in place of a ceramic ( a material that is becoming more and more popular). The black aluminium anodised bezel with silver tachymetre scale doesn’t shout at you when looking at it. It is somewhat graceful and understated. It isn’t glossy and sheek like we have come to expect with the Daytonas and the new Seasmasters, only adding to the idea that the Tudor Black Bay Chrono is a real tool watch, not just something that shows off how much off a premium one can afford to pay.

The Verdict:

Usability, reliability, value for money, safety of investment, quality of materials. All important elements to consider in balance when delving into the world of swiss watches. Gravitating too much towards one may adversly effect the other. Fortunately, there are times when an equilibirum is found. A point where all things that matter, that are important, that are worth having all come together to provide the complete package. The Tudor Black Bay Chrono is the equilibrium. It is the piece with which no compromise is needed. To put it plainly, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono is the ultimate watch.

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