Review: Tudor’s Black Bay GMT Is the Ideal Travel Watch

Dec 1, 2021

Category: Style

It’s tough to match the jet-setting style of a classic Pepsi GMT watch. Rolex invented the form with the original four-hand travel watch, the GMT Master, in 1955, and a number of other brands have followed suit in the decades since. One of the latest to do so is Tudor, which released its first Pepsi bezel GMT watch with the Black Bay GMT in 2018.

A smash hit right out of the gate, the hype surrounding Tudor’s GMT has finally subsided to the point where you can actually go out and buy one, if you so desire. With that being the case, we decided that now is the time to go hands-on with the Black Bay GMT to see what had everyone so excited about it in the first place. Here’s what we discovered.

At A Glance

Black Bay GMT Specs

Case Size: 41mm
Lug to Lug: 50mm
Case Thickness: 15mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement Type: Automatic
Power Reserve: 70 Hours
Movement: Manufacture Calibre MT5652, COSC Chronometer
Lume: Yes
Crystal: Sapphire
Strap: Three-Link Stainless Steel Bracelet

Video Review: Tudor Black Bay GMT

To get even more up close and personal with the timepiece, have a look at our accompanying Tudor Black Bay GMT 4K video review.

First Impressions

Pepsi Is More Than OK

At first blush, it’s very obvious that the Black Bay GMT is copying the formula of the original Rolex GMT. But since Tudor is the sister brand of Rolex, the watch doesn’t come off as an homage or replica like the GMTs of so many other brands. Rather, it feels like the legitimate heir to the Rolex GMT crown, aided by its retro styling cues — the matte dial, oversized unprotected crown, and thin aluminum bezel — that make it far more akin to the very first post-bakelite GMT Masters of the late 1950s than the current shiny ceramic version that Rolex makes today.

Photo: HICONSUMPTION

The Case

Large & In Charge

The case is, more or less, what you would expect from a Black Bay. It’s a big hunk of steel with a brushed top, highly-polished sides, and a simple caseback. The aluminum bezel really sings with its subtle-yet-brilliant red and blue coloring, and its coin edge is easy to grip and turn (in both directions — it’s bidirectional) despite this being perhaps the thinnest bezel we’ve ever handled top-to-bottom. The case is a bit on the chunky side at 50mm lug-to-lug and 15mm thick, and the slab sides don’t exactly thin out its profile. If you have big wrists, you’ll likely love the way it wears, but if you come in below 7 inches you may be left pining for the day when Tudor will release a version of the GMT in a smaller Black Bay 58 case.

Photo: HICONSUMPTION

The Dial

A Lesson In Contrast

While it appears rather humdrum in photos, the dial of the Black Bay GMT is anything but in person. It’s matte black and textured with a grainy, sand-like pattern. This adds some dynamism and contrasts wonderfully with the large white indices and snowflake handset, all of which are infilled with the Black Bay series’ typical very green-glowing Super-LumiNova lume. Finally, there’s the GMT hand, a thin retro stunner in red with a lumed snowflake tip that extends all the way to the bezel, which makes reading your second time zone a breeze.

Photo: HICONSUMPTION

The Bracelet

The Vintage Vibes Continue

One aspect of the Black Bay GMT that has emerged as polarizing is the bracelet. At first glance, it looks like your typical three-link Oyster-style design, but there’s a bit more going on. From the side, the bracelet looks like an old-school rivet bracelet, and that’s what some have taken issue with. It’s not a real rivet bracelet, it’s just made to look like one, and some view that as inauthentic. Us? We couldn’t care less. The bracelet looks good, the faux rivets add an interesting touch, and the entire thing is extremely well made. We especially love the clasp, as it sports next-level finishing and tolerances with a safety latch that closes perfectly flush.

Photo: HICONSUMPTION

The Movement

Yes, It's True

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Black Bay GMT is its powerplant. Rather than going the typical route and grabbing an off-the-shelf GMT movement from ETA or Sellita, Tudor went the extra mile and manufactured its own brand-new in-house GMT calibre for the watch. Like the movement driving Rolex’s GMT Master II, the BB GMT’s Manufacture Calibre MT5652 is both a COSC-certified chronometer and a “true” GMT. That means that, rather than possessing an adjustable GMT hand like those aforementioned stock movements, the Tudor’s hour hand is independently adjustable. This allows for quick changes to new time zones when traveling without interrupting the main timekeeping or your second time zone, and it’s a must-have feature on any serious traveler’s watch.

Photo: HICONSUMPTION

On The Wrist

Bold & Beautiful

As the Tudor Black Bay GMT is on the larger side, your wearing experience will vary depending on how big your wrists are. We will say, though, that even our smaller-wristed testers never felt overpowered by the watch and were willing to overlook its size and heft due to the piece’s incredible good looks and inherent “coolness.” And if you do have larger wrists? Then there’s no debate at all. The Black Bay GMT absolutely sings on wrists 7” and larger, and could easily function as a daily driver or as a special-occasion travel watch.

Final Thoughts

The GMT To Get

To wrap up, we were blown away by the Tudor Black Bay GMT. Sure, some of us may wish it were just a bit smaller, but the overall package is damn near perfect. From the retro Pepsi styling to the in-house true GMT movement to the baked-in Rolex GMT history, Tudor’s first foray into four-handers is first class all the way.

Purchase: $4,050

The 10 Best Luxury Watches for the New Collector

Got around $5K burning a hole in your pocket and looking to pick up your first luxury watch? Then have a look at our guide (and accompanying video) going over our favorite first luxury watches for new collectors.

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