Tudor’s newest addition to their Black Bay line of vintage-inspired sports watches goes further than the Swiss watchmaker has ever gone before in channeling vintage looks and proportions––creating a faithful reinterpretation of a vintage 1950s Tudor Submariner but with the durability and accuracy of a modern watch. Tudor, which is owned by the same parent company as Rolex, released five new watches for 2023. But the Black Bay 54 is the one making the biggest splash.
Tudor’s Black Bay series of watches was created to embody vintage aesthetics. And until now, the popular Black Bay 58 was their flagship vintage-inspired diver. But the beloved 58, which is offered in 41mm and 39mm case sizes, is still more in line with modern tastes for larger watches. The Black Bay 54 is a period-accurate 37mm in diameter and was named in reference to the year 1954 when Tudor released the Oyster Prince Submariner, reference 7922, which was used by US and French navies and professional divers of the era.
With its 37mm diameter and thickness of just 11.24mm, Tudor says the new watch has the same proportions as the original while benefitting from seventy years of technological improvements. So, you get the feeling of wearing a 1950s dive watch, but unlike an actual vintage version, this one is rock solid, deadly accurate, and benefits from new conveniences like Tudor’s brilliant T-Fit clasp (more on that later).
The watch is comfortable without feeling dainty on the wrist and has a 60-minute unidirectional bezel with a matte black insert. There are no graduated hash marks on the bezel, so the design is cleaner visually, and unlike the Black Bay 58, the numerals and markers on the bezel are silver-toned instead of gold-toned. Tudor says that both the bezel and the crown––the tiny grooved part you pull out and twist to set the time––were designed to match the proportions of the 1954 original.
The vintage look is further emphasized by the domed sapphire crystal, and the dial itself is “subtly domed,” with a satin radial-brushed black dial with gilt accents and applied hour markers (i.e. markers physically applied to the dial as opposed to markers that are painted onto the dial). It uses Tudor’s signature snowflake hands, as opposed to the Mercedes hands of the original watch, which were the same as those on the Rolex Submariner. Another vintage touch faithful to the original is that the minute hand is pinched at its base rather than straight.
The Black Bay 54 is powered by Tudor’s chronometer-certified MT5400 movement, which has a “weekend proof” 70-hour power reserve. It’s time-only, which keeps the dial and the operation clean and simple––no GMT hand or date window to set––neither of which you’d need underwater. Speaking of which, it’s water resistant to 200 meters, which is quite a high rating for a watch unlikely to be taken on actual scuba diving excursions. It’s all made and assembled in Tudor’s new state-of-the-art factory in Bienne, Switzerland.
The Black Bay 54 has two strap options: a satin-brushed rivet-style steel bracelet ($3850), and a black rubber strap ($3625). Both options have Tudor’s lovely T-Fit clasp, which is a micro-adjustable clasp that moves smoothly with ceramic ball bearings and allows you to adjust the watch tighter or looser with 8mm of travel, so you can adjust it to a hot day or a cold day without having to remove or add a link. For the rubber strap, this one is meant to be cut to size to fit the wearer’s wrist precisely, so having the T-Fit clasp is just as valuable. The Tudor Black Bay 54 is available now at Tudor.com