Hands-On Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro (Reference M79470-0002 of 2022)

The Skinny

  • 39mm
  • Stainless steel
  • 200 meters water resistance
  • Released March 2022
  • Price when released – $3675 on leather or fabric, $4000 on bracelet
  • Movement –  MT5662 GMT, integrated GMT function with jumping hour and date, auto-winding, certified chronometer
  • Precision – +2secs/day on our timegrapher
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

How The GMT Pro Nails The Rolex 1655 Vibe

Well established are that Tudor interprets vintage Rolex models and that the Black Bay GMT Pro of 2022 interprets the first Rolex Explorer II of 1971 (Reference 1655).

Two key points. First, whether you care about this watch’s relationship to the Rolex 1655 or not, this is an excellent watch with a deep vibe all its own (which we will spend most of our time on). Second, you really need to experience the Black Bay Pro GMT in person to get a sense of that deep vibe.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

A list and these images should suffice to show how this watch interprets the Rolex Eplorer II 1655.

  • Tudor nailed the yellow color. Not really mustard, but in that realm, and kind of remarkably warm yellow, but without going into orange territory. Very reminiscent of what the 1655 looked like by the early 1980s. 
  • The matte black dial is spot on.
  • The brushed steel bezel is wonderfully reminiscent while retaining Tudor’s unique take on the old Rolex font.
  • Creamy lume for vintage vibes, but not overdone. Just perfect. 
  • No marker surrounds (which are found on other Black Bay models). This lends the GMT Pro a vintage and utilitarian look much like the 1655.
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

How The GMT Pro Transcends Imitation & Generates Its Own Deep Vibe

Vibe is shorthand for holistic aesthetic affecting presence – or how a watch hits you when experiencing it with a softened Zen-like gaze – a beginner’s mind – and decidedly not when dissembling it bit-by-bit like a design critic does. Vibe is about wholeness, unity, harmony, and the Black Bay GMT Pro has a lot of vibe.

This watch’s vibe just chills me out and allows me to simply enjoy the watch without overthinking it. I find it difficult to focus on a specific detail and derive some thought about it. It’s just so natural to spend time with. It’s kind of like hanging out with a particularly mellow and lovely golden retriever, a beautiful creature that sends up fountains of endorphins.

That’s a lot to get from a wrist watch, and perhaps an odd thing to derive from one. But why does this keep happening every time I wear this watch? 

Here’s my theory: The Black Bay GMT Pro attains near-perfect color balance and proportionality. 

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

The Harmonious Colorway

We’ve touched on the color already, and it really comes down to the way the steel, the off-white lume, the yellow GMT hand, and the matte black dial work together so harmoniously. Everything contrasts for optimized legibility, but nothing is jarring. This is a soft colorway, one that doesn’t leap out and draw attention, but one that draws you into the watch, a quality which I find mesmerizing. This is one mellow and understated watch, but entirely engaging.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

Perfect Proportions

Relatedly, the GMT Pro’s proportionality is uncannily good. Everything feels perfectly balanced and distributed in the field of vision at arm’s length. The reason this GMT Pro has such wonderful proportions is that it obeys the basic lessons of proportionality and scale derived from centuries of watch design. Let me explain.

Early wrist watches were shrunk down so that their dials would register at the same optimal viewing proportion as pocket watches, which was optimized over the course of centuries. Pocket watches are read from the waist, but wrist watches are read from the chest. The closer you bring the watch, the smaller it should be to maintain optimal proportions in the field of vision (foreshortening is the technical term). Calatravas of 1932 were 31mm, and they were perfectly legible, compact, and – in my opinion, entirely lovely – a study in ideal proportions.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

Tool watches need to be a little larger than dress watches, however. The added size is helpful for legibility while bumping around in the wild, or flying a plane, or whatever one gets up to in tool watches like the GMT Pro. The added real estate also allows for more robust waterproofing, auto-winding rotors, added complications, and so on. But too big, and wrist watches just look audacious without adding any utility. Tool watches are best when they conform to old-school proportions.

Due to the 24-hour outer bezel, the dial of the GMT Pro here is rather small, in fact almost identical in size to the dial of my bezel-less 33mm Vacheron Constantin ref. 92239/000P-4 dress watch. Because of its perfectly sized dial and its perfectly proportioned markers, chapter ring, date window, hands and logos, the Black Bay GMT Pro looks entirely natural on the wrist and is super easy to read. The eye just knows where to go for the information it needs.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

And that, dear reader, is how the Tudor Black Bay Pro generates its own super deep vibe. It’s mellow, understated, harmonious, ideally proportioned, and just a pleasure to look down at. Yes, like a lovely golden retriever named Black Bay.

Regarding the Added Height

In order to make room for the more complicated movement, the Black Bay Pro is taller than the 39mm time-only Black Bay dive watches. I’d heard all kinds of brew-ha-ha about this added thickness when the Pro came out – of course, from people who hadn’t yet tried one on, alas.

Then I went to a store and tried one on and I immediately said to the cohort of highly sensitive horologically-minded young men who had gathered around me, “This thing wears great. What was all that fuss about?” Then they each tried it on, and everyone agreed it wore fine, and one of these young men pulled out his credit card and bought it – which pissed off one of the other guys who, it appears, might also have bought one, had there been two. It’s a hot watch.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

Even with the single-pass NATO strap – which is the best in the business by many kilometers and made by French ribbon maker Julien Faure – the Black Bay GMT Pro wears just fine. It’s a tool watch with a GMT function and an auto-winder, so it stands up on your wrist a bit. If your cuffs are too tight, wear a flannel or get a dress watch.

The Movement

Built by Tudor’s movement manufacturer Kenissi, this is an integrated GMT movement with a jumping hour hand, and it’s running at around +2 seconds/day measured in six positions on my timegrapher. This is serious mechanical performance from a relatively complicated in-house movement. When you consider the price of this watch, it’s kind of remarkable. You could look at Bremont, maybe at a few recent Zodiacs, and otherwise you have to go pretty far upscale to find a complicated certified chronometer anywhere near this price point.

So Much More Than A Vintage Rolex Interpretation

You can’t get around the fact that Tudor does interpret vintage Rolex models like this from time to time, but there’s so much more to the experience of Tudor’s interpretations than imitation. 

Think about it: how many watches currently imitate various Rolex models and how many have done so for decades? And the Explorer II alone? Just off the top of my head – Grand Seiko, Bell&Ross, Christopher Ward. And none of those are anywhere near as good as this Black Bay GMT Pro, and none have the legitimate shared heritage with Rolex. But, most importantly, none of those other interpretations have succeeded in transcending that which they’re interpreting. They’re all just Explorer II look-alikes.  

Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002
Tudor Black Bay GMT Pro M79470-0002

And so it’s entirely uncanny to me – and perhaps ironic to you – that the Tudor Black Bay Pro GMT, which so precisely imitates all kinds of Explorer II details, actually transcends its imitative nature and generates a deep vibe all its own. That, dear reader, comes down to exceptional design from a brand which takes (and takes from) its history seriously. This is why I’m declaring the Black Bay GMT Pro the best vintage-inspired release of 2022 – and maybe the best one I’ve ever seen.