Spotlight On: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel 79730
by Hugh Taylor | September 04, 2017
At Baselworld earlier this year, Tudor introduced four new editions to its outstanding Heritage Black Bay collection. To those that aren’t yet familiar with the collection, it’s a masterclass in retro chic, which has arguably been the trend of the decade. The new models have one key addition, a stainless steel bezel, which has the effect of giving them a colder, more functional look and, fundamentally, pushing them even further into vintage territory. The piece I have in my hands today, the reference 79730, is the dive watch model that the collection centres on. Here are my thoughts on it.
Aesthetically there is little difference between the Heritage Black Bay dive watches and the first Tudor models from the 50s, save for the overall crisper feel of the modern manufacturing and, more noticeably, the colours—until now Tudor has decked out the Heritage models with snappy colour schemes or made the cases from bronze and black PVD-coated steel. The originals, however, were all steel with black or dark blue dials and bezels. The fresh colour schemes were actually one of the range's strong points as they were tastefully chosen and quite original. So while this new model is functional and even more vintage, it perhaps isn’t as exciting as, say, the bronze and brown model. But obviously it depends on your taste.
Anyway, colour aside, these couldn’t be any more on the nose of the current trend. Head to any important watch auction and you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the fever surrounding vintage sports watches, in particular of the Rolex variety. Well, the early Tudors came in the same case as the Rolex Submariners of the time and, along with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, they paint the archetypal image of the dive watch. However, while the modern Rolexes have evolved and have been reimaged, the Tudors have revived the original look, and it’s hardly a surprise that they have been one of the biggest hits in mechanical watches in the past few years.
Of course, the Heritage Black Bay dive watches have had some considerable technical upgrades from the early additions, including the upsized 41 mm case, which is water-resistant to 200 m, and most importantly, the now in-house Tudor movement. In the past, the main difference between the Tudors and the more expensive Rolexes was the fact that Tudor used imported movements, so the new development brings the Tudors up to near-Rolex level, yet the prices are still a fair deal lower. The movement is the very respectable MT5612 calibre—a COSC-certified workhorse with a three-day power reserve—that was introduced in the Pelagos in 2015.
The present steel piece retains the collector’s favourite features (and indeed the backbone features of the Heritage collection), namely the “snowflake” hour hand, first used in the seventies in the watches Tudor designed for the French Navy, the domed matte dial, the rose logo on the crown and depth-rating in red. It has a few distinguishing features though, such as the date window, which like it or not is always useful and the red in the triangle on the bezel at the 12 o’clock position, which brings an extra flash of colour. Finally, the other key difference is the bracelet, which is thinner and riveted, which again recalls the 50s and 60s models. The effect of the bracelet is that it feels a little lighter and sportier on the wrist.
Seeing as the steel bezel is not really used anymore—not by Tudor since the late nineties and very sparingly by Rolex—it is refreshing. It also has a ruggedness that is always appealing. However, personally I would probably shoot for the bronze edition or one of the livelier colour schemes over this one. As for the other novelties mentioned, as is typically the case with Rolex upgrades, they are but minor tweaks and don’t really change the experience of the watch. That said, this is a dignified new addition to the Heritage collection and one that is well worth the price tag.
For more information visit our dedicated pre-owned and vintage Tudor watches page.