The Tudor Black Bay GMT: The only watch you need?

When Tudor released their new GMT at Baselworld 2018, it was met with overwhelming adoration. It was of course released along side the much coveted BLRO Rolex Pepsi GMT Master II, a new addition to Rolex’s somewhat unobtainable stainless steel sports model line up.

At the time it felt like a win for the collector. Can’t get a Rolex GMT? Not to worry, try this latest release from Tudor! But unfortunately this was not the case. The Tudor GMT has become a unicorn in its own right, where we’ve seen resellers, grey market dealers and the preowned market attach premiums over and above the reasonable recommended retail price, not to mention a 12 month wait at your local AD.

Set all that aside for a second and let’s look at the watch.

Specifications
Case size: 41mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Lug to Lug: 50mm
Crystal: Domed sapphire
Bracelet: Riveted style, solid end links, signed fold over clasp with micro adjust, screwed links
Movement: In-house Tudor GMT movement MT5652 , 70 hour power reserve

To understand the history of the watch, we need to go back to 1954, when two brands released two very different watches: The Rolex GMT Master and the Tudor Submariner.

The Rolex GMT.
As the legend goes, Pan Am Airlines reached out to Rolex with a request to design a watch with multi timezone capabilities for their pilots. Ergo in 1954 the GMT was born. The watch featured a 24 hour bezel in blue and red, with blue highlighting the PM hours and red the AM. Furthermore the watch was adorned with an additional hand, going around the dial once every 24 hours (aka the GMT hand). This complication allowed the wearer to track up to three timezones, by setting the GMT hand to one timezone and quickly pivoting to another seemlessly by a turn of the bezel.

The GMT over the years has seen many revisions, and today the stainless steel version is available in two colourways: Pepsi per the original and black and blue which has been coined the ‘Batman’. It’s of course been upgraded to all the latest technology, featuring a ceramic bezel, super oyster case, 904l stainless steel, upgraded Jubilee bracelet (no oyster option available in the current SS line up) and the 2018 released in house GMT movement (cal 3285) with a 70 power reserve. It’s previously been released with an all black bezel and the infamous black and red or ‘Coke’, which was most recently found on the now discontinued reference 16710. But you already know that – let’s take a look at what Tudor did back in 54.

Tudor Submariner.
In 1954, Tudor released the Submariner just one year after Rolex released the legendary dive watch. Initially released with traditional Mercedes hands, Tudor made a daring change in 1967 to feature snowflake hands, which has now become a corner stone of the brands design language. The watch stayed in production under various references and styles (even reverting back to mercedes hands) until finally being discontinued in 1999.

Fast forward to 2012 and Tudor release their most iconic and well received watch yet, the Black Bay Red. Featuring the beloved snowflake hands, deep red 60-click bezel, ETA movement and an “affordable” price tag to match (at least from a brand with as much heritage and ties to Rolex). The watch took obvious design cues from Submariners from both their own catalogue and Rolex’s, and did what Rolex could never do and that’s release something pretty daring, as opposed to slowly iterating on design over decades.

The Black Bay series have gone from strength to strength ever since, quickly following up with the release of their in house movement, together with new models diversifying their line up with the likes of the Black Bay 36, Black Bay Bronze, Black Bay Chrono and recently in 2018, the watch in question, the Black Bay GMT.

Tudor’s GMT, like with the original Black Bay, is an amalgamation of new and old. Take the 24 hour bezel for instance. It’s made from aluminium and comes in navy and dark red, foregoing the obvious choice of ceramic in favour of a more traditional material that is subject to ageing, together with a colourway that is reminiscent of those old bakelite bezels. The bracelet has solid end links and screwed links, but is designed with a faux riveted style to match the original. In size, although the watch has such vintage charm, it’s housed in a rather contemporary case size of 41mm. It’s new and old at the same time and it’s simply brilliant to behold.

I can’t express my love for the entire Black Bay range, with this GMT being my favourite. With a water resistant rating to 200m, tough and rugged design, sapphire crystal, and all around tooly goodness, this is certainly a contender for the only watch you’ll ever need. Regardless of whether you travel or just like to know what time it is in your home away from home.