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Time To Shine
THANKS to the success of the Heritage Black Bay, Tudor has stepped into the spotlight instead of just being "the Rolex sister brand".
That recognition is actually well deserved because it was the Heritage Black Bay which arguably kickstarted the vintage trend which many other brands have since started to also follow.
For its efforts, Tudor received a revival prize at the watchmaking Oscars, the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie in 2013 and the Black Bay has since then grown into a family of watches that include various sizes, case materials and complications.
It is not difficult to see why the collection is so well-loved - if you are in the market for a diver with a bit of history and don't want to break the bank for a luxury watch, then picking up a Black Bay is a no-brainer.
And there are many models to choose from these days - the latest being the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue.
It is basically a new variant of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which was first unveiled at Baselworld two year ago, updated with a new matte blue dial.
There are three strap options to pick from - a steel bracelet for a extra sportiness, and a leather or fabric band - both in matching blue - for a slightly more dressy or casual look respectively.
The bracelet is the same retro riveted ones found on the other Black Bay models, while the leather has a soft touch because it is manufactured from a synthetic, tactile material that resembles flannel.
What is worth noting is the fabric strap - which might be mistaken for any NATO band - is actually woven in France on 19th century Jacquard looms by the 150-year-old family-owned Julien Faure company in the St-Etienne region.
Quality-wise, it feels sturdier than your average fabric strap but yet supple and comfortable on the wrist.
Incidentally, 2020 marks the tenth year that Julien Faure has been producing fabric straps for Tudor and that partnership can be traced back to the launch of the Heritage Chrono in 2010.
Back to the watch - the Black Bay Fifty-Eight essentially takes its name from the year 1958 which Tudor released the Oyster Prince Submariner Ref 7924.
Staying true to the original, the model is also smaller and its case diameter is 39mm, compared to the 41mm of the earlier Black Bays.
To the naked eye, the size difference is barely noticeable; though what is more obvious is the Black Bay Fifty-Eight's thinner case.
Proportionally, it makes for a more comfortable wear, especially for those with slimmer wrists.
Also, women who initially loved the earlier Black Bay watches but found it too big or thick to pull off might find the ideal fit with the Black Bay Fifty-Eight or the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue.
The latter's matte domed dial itself is a work of art - indoors, depending on lighting, it can look more black than blue; but outdoors under natural light, there is no mistaking its true colour which complements the bezel.
Lest anybody mistakes Tudor for trying to jump on the bandwagon of trendy blue watches, the colour is in fact something that the brand has long championed.
Ever since it introduced a diver in matching blue dial and bezel in 1969, it led to the birth of the Tudor Blue label, which the French navy adopted for Tudor diving watches it used during the 1970s.
In essence, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue is in fact a true homage to that era and not just another reissue in a new colour.
The throwback vibes extend also to the smaller 39mm case size which were more common back in the day, the signature snowflake hands used in those French Navy watches, and the big crown of the Ref 7924.
Like all the newer Black Bay models, the piece now comes with an in-house movement.
Here it's the COSC-certified Manufacture Calibre MT5402, which is "weekend-proof" because it has 70 hours of power reserve so you can take the watch off on Friday evening and put it back on again on Monday morning without having to set it.
Retro yet modern, few watches can boast of packing seven decades of history into one compact contemporary package like the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue.