Have you ever wondered why Tudor timepieces — especially the early models — look so much like Rolexes? In 1926, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf launched what would become the Tudor watch company. It was on a mission to provide watches with Rolex quality but at affordable prices. Early references, such as the Ref. 7922 Submariner, utilized the same cases and bracelets as the Swiss brand but featured cheaper movements. Today, debuting at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, Tudor looks back to its roots with a new heritage-inspired version of its Black Bay diver, called Black Bay 54.
Despite what it sounds like, the number 54 in the model name does not refer to the case size (that would be newsworthy in and of itself), but instead, it’s a nod to the year that Tudor released its first dive watch, the Ref. 7922 Submariner. In fact, while previous Black Bay divers have seen 41mm and 39mm versions, the 54 is the first to feature a modest 37mm case size, which is somewhat small for a dive watch these days but is more accurate to the original 7922 from 1954. Despite the smaller size, the water resistance remains at 200m, which has been the standard for the brand’s divers since ‘58.
Introduced in 2012, the Black Bay range has been a favorite for Tudor fans for its retro-inspired designs. However, we’ve been wanting to see a return to the retro-style case sizes. While the new 54 is not much different than previous Black Bay models with its stainless steel case, dial configuration, and overall design language, it does come with features of the ‘54 Submariner such as the lollipop seconds hand and the lack of date indicator. Most notably akin to the 1954 original, there are no intermediate hash marks between every five-minute marker on the unidirectional bezel.
Available with either a black rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet, the Black Bay 54 is priced at $3,850 from Tudor’s website.