By TLex Introducing the new TUDOR Heritage Black Bay Bronze, a divers watch inspired by the brand’s rich history and fitted with a mechanical movement developed, manufactured and assembled in-house by TUDOR. The Black Bay Heritage is TUDOR’s first bronze model and is in my opinion the perfect canvas for their first foray into this ancient medium.
Okay, I’m gonna rattle on a little bit about bronze now cos it’s something that I feel quite passionately about, so if you just wanna find out more about the actual watch skip down a few paragraphs.
So who was actually responsible for the first bronze wristwatch? The short answer is Panerai. They used bronze as an experimental material for prototypes of their legendary Mille Metri that was commissioned by the Italian Navy in the 1980s. One was sold at auction a few years back for in excess of 280,000CHF!
When Panerai was taken over by the Cartier Group, those that stayed behind to form Anonimo were in many respects pioneers in the use of brozne, however they weren’t the only ones using it; a lesser known watch Manufacture called Julius Legend was also producing bronze models perhaps even earlier than them.
Did you know that Audemars Piguet also produced a special BARTORELLI Edition of the ROO Scuba featuring a bronze fixed bezel with an internal rotatable divers bezel also in bronze long before Panerai readopted bronze for the PAM00382.
Fellow Richemont Group brand, IWC have used bronze for two generations of the Aquatimer DARWIN Limited Edition watches and more recently this year, Oris produced their first BRONZE model. Outside of the dive watch industry it has also been adopted as specialist material for vintage styled Pilot watches such those by Zenith.
However it’s companies like ENNEBI (ex-Panerai engineers) and many of the smaller micro brands such as Benarus and Helson, and you guys - the dive watch aficionados, collectors and geeks who fell in love with bronze that are ultimately responsible for companies like Tudor making the move towards it. Who's gonna be next?
It’s taken six years or more and while bronze is still very much a specialized material used in a small niche of the watch industry; it’s kind of cool to see the trend finally catching on and to have been in some small way part of it.
Apart from its new 43mm brushed Al Bronze case, an aesthetic reference to the use of bronze in historic ships and other diving equipment; the choice of this bronze, a high-performance Aluminum Bronze alloy, guarantees the development of a subtle and unique patina. It is to my knowledge the hardest bronze alloy available and used for the manufacture of ship's propellers.
In this instance, the Heritage Black Bay Bronze has been perfectly paired with a chocolate brown dial and bezel – a first for TUDOR – with golden and accents, creating a something that is visually stunning!
This wouldn’t be a Tudor diver it wasn’t also fitted with a set of Snowflake hands taken directly from the divers watches that were issued in large quantities to the French National Navy in the 1970s.
The drilled holes on the side of the lugs and their particularly pronounced chamfering can be added to the list of notable historic design elements adopted in this new model.
Power comes from a COSC certified variant of the movement manufactured by TUDOR and developed for the Heritage Black Bay model. It displays hours, minutes and seconds, and proudly bears the reference MT5602, in which MT stands for, Mouvement TUDOR.
It has a power-reserve of 70-hours meaning that its wearer can, for example, take off the watch on Friday evening and put it on again on Monday morning without having to wind it. Beating to a frequency of 28,800 beats/hour or 4Hz, the movement is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with silicon balance spring, held in place by a traversing bridge.
Going back again, to the 1970s, when the French Navy was supplied with TUDOR Submariners, they were delivered without any bracelets and instead had them fitted with their own straps, handmade or otherwise. One of them, found on a vintage model was made from elastic recovered from a French rescue parachute.
It is from this ultra-functional relic, characterized by its central yellow thread that the beige and brown woven jacquard strap fitted to the Heritage Black Bay Bronze descends.In line with the characteristics of the Heritage line, it is also delivered with an aged brown leather strap whose angled cut accentuates a rustic effect that will ultimately come when the watch gets its patina.