Hands-On Review – Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue

The Skinny

  • Diameter: 39 mm
  • Thickness: 11.9 mm
  • Lug to Lug: 47 mm
  • Water Resistance: 200 M
  • Movement: MT5204
  • Price: $3,375 on a fabric strap
  • Time owned: 2 months with daily wear

As An Owner…

I didn’t pick this watch because of the story. I’m not particularly interested in diving, or in the Marine Nationale. I’m allergic to hype, so I’m going to leave the story to others who have told it better. There were three reasons I bought this watch.

  1. Provides great value for the money
  2. Robust sports watch for my collection that lacked one
  3. No fauxtina

This is my watch so I’m going to give you my opinion. I spent my money so I think I’ve earned that right. If you want an objective viewpoint there are plenty of reviews elsewhere. I’ve worn this watch almost every day for 2 straight months so here’s what I think.

The Case

Tudor is indisputably a great value for the money and the Black Bay 58 line has the added punch of an in-house movement. Tudor sometimes is criticized for having slab sided cases. The Black Bay line tends to have flanks that are thick relative to the bezel and the caseback is fairly flat rather than protruding out from the back. The relative thinness at 11.9 mm helps to ameliorate the flank issue in this watch compared to the Black Bay 41 or the GMT. There is a sharply defined high polish chamfer on this piece which separates the sides from the front of the lugs which have a diagonal brushing. That chamfer in a way is what made me want to buy this watch. It shows a high level of attention to detail which is missing from almost every other watch in this price point. For example, I had also considered the Grand Seiko SBGW231. Despite all the hype around Grand Seiko zaratsu polished cases, I found the case to have a single high polish finish and to be rather soft compared to the Tudor. This is at Grand Seiko’s entry level price point of $4,300 for a mechanical piece. I don’t think Tudor gets enough credit for their case finishing.

The Bezel

The bezel has a coin edge and is made from aluminum. Although ceramic is generally considered a more modern and superior material, I do like the matte finish and classic look of the aluminum. I find the bezel action to be quite precise in one minute intervals and enjoyable to use for simple timing tasks such as parking meters. Naturally, it is unidirectional. The exposed crown without a crown guard seems to be a typical design feature of the Black Bay line with the ugly duckling P01 being the exception that proves the rule. I like having the crown without the crown guard as I don’t do anything in my daily activities that would damage a crown. The Tudor rose emblem is a nice touch. I very much dislike the color applied to the crown tube in some of the Black Bay line because it makes the crown look unscrewed and I appreciate the omission of that feature in the 58.

The Dial

The crystal is a bit domed and gives some vintage styled distortions at the edges. The dial is a sort of matte navy blue. It has the typical round luminous markers with a triangle at 12 and sticks at 3, 6, and 9. The hour hand and seconds hand have the diamond-shaped “snowflake” tips with a simple minute hand. I agree with my colleague Allen Farmelo that square markers would have made for a more consistent design language with the snowflake hands as it did on the original Tudor snowflake dials. However, that can’t be helped and it does not bother me to have it the way it is. It seems a little strange to be that there is a rose on the crown and a shield on the dial but I won’t lose sleep over that little bit of design inconsistency either.

A Little Rant About Fauxtina

I like that the watch is basically blue with white lume. I don’t particularly care for lume that has been colored yellow for the sake of looking old. If I want a vintage watch, I’ll just get a vintage watch. My fantasy as a vintage collector is to go back in time and buy those watches new because their design language appeals to me. I find the white lume and the blue colorways of this watch to be more honest. I thought the original Black Bay 58 was trying a little too hard with all the gilt and fauxtina. Just like an older person who gets too much plastic surgery to look young sometimes looks a little “off,” I think that a modern watch that has been altered to look vintage sometimes looks odd. Vintage design doesn’t mean that it has to have signs of aging. Anyway, rant over.

The Strap

I got my watch on a fabric strap. It’s a bit hard to find it on a bracelet and this was the first available so I took it. I would have preferred that it came on the bracelet standard since I believe the cost of getting the OEM bracelet is around $850 but this is Tudor and Tudor is part of Rolex and Rolex doesn’t give a damn what you want so there you go. I have to say though that I like the fabric strap very much. It doesn’t make sense to me that it also comes on leather since leather isn’t waterproof so I wouldn’t have gone for that. The fabric strap looks like at NATO with a blue color and lighter blue stripe but in fact has tubes sewn in to hold the spring bars. If you take the spring bar out of the buckle you can adjust the strap length as well, which I did to get a better fit.

The Movement

The back of the watch looks pretty basic with an Oyster-style screw down back that has a flat surface and protrudes ever so slightly. The solid caseback has “Manufacture Tudor” written on it, drawing attention to the caliber MT5204. I know that it’s slightly irrational to prefer an in-house caliber when an ETA 2824 could perform as well or better but I never claimed to be totally rational. Having an in-house Tudor movement makes the watch feel more special. I tend to be leery of in-house movements if they don’t have a long track record. I don’t want to be a beta tester for a watch brand. Rationally or not, it makes me feel better that Tudor has an association with Rolex and their manufacturing base. I find that my watch is a pretty consistent +5 seconds a day which is within the COSC standard of -4/+6 although I had hoped to brag about slightly better performance. For those who care, it has a 70 hour power reserve, silicon hairspring, free-sprung microstella balance wheel, full balance bridge, automatic bidirectional winding, is 4.99 mm tall by 26 mm wide, has 27 jewels and beats at the industry standard 28,800. For me as the user that translates into an almost 3 day power reserve, efficient winding so that the power is almost always topped off by my movement, robustness in terms of shock resistance, has anti-magnetic properties, and has some Rolex technology that gives it more potential for precise regulation.

Conclusion

I wish I could say that I carefully chose this watch because of the Marine Nationale heritage and the vintage design of the Black Bay 58. The truth is that I didn’t have a proper modern sports watch, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, and I needed a watch that wasn’t too large for my wrist. Tudor has made an affordable, robust, stylish watch and it suits me perfectly.