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Jewel in the crown

The Black Bay collection, which is part of Tudor's Heritage line, has played a big part in the brand's comeback.

Heritage Black Bay Chrono.

Heritage Black Bay 41.

Left: Heritage Black Bay Steel and Gold. Right: Heritage Black Bay Steel with Khaki fabric.

TUDOR launched the Heritage Black Bay in 2012. This dive watch has a domed crystal, brown dial and striking matte burgundy-coloured bezel, which is based on some Tudor Submariner watches in the museum whose bezel had turned to this rich colour.

Two other features borrowed from past popular Tudor models also stood out: a big crown from the1958 Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner Reference 7924; and angular "snowflake" hands of Tudor subs made for the French National Navy in the 1970s.

The watch industry's equivalent of the Oscars, the Grand Prix d' Horlogerie de Geneve, picked the Heritage Black Bay as the best "revival" watch in 2013. Since then, Tudor, whose popularity had slipped in the market, also enjoyed a revival with watch fans since the launch of the watch.

Tudor has followed up on the Heritage Black Bay's success by introducing two other versions of the model - one with blue bezel and another with black bezel - which also proved to be popular.

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Indeed, with a string of well-received models unveiled in the past few years, crowned by the unveiling of Tudor's first in-house movement in 2015, Rolex's poorer cousin is coming into its own as a watchmaker.

The Black Bay collection, which is part of Tudor's Heritage line, has of course played a big part in the brand's comeback.

Last year, Tudor also fitted the original Heritage Black Bay (burgundy bezel) with its own in-house movement. At the same time, it presented the Heritage Black Bay Bronze, which is still in hot demand. The watch boasts not only a bronze but also a bigger 43mm case - most Black Bay models have a 41mm case.

So it's not surprising that Tudor is again putting another new Heritage Black Bay collection in the spotlight this year: Heritage Black Bay Chrono; Heritage Black Bay Steel and Gold (S&G); Heritage Black Bay Steel; and Heritage Black Bay 41.

A hybrid of Tudor's racing and aquatic heritage, the Chrono - CHF 4,800 (S$6,772) in steel bracelet, CHF4,500 in fabric strap - has attracted the most attention. It is the first chronograph in the Heritage Black Bay series and waterproofed up to 200 metres. But what is most interesting is the Chrono's movement. It's a product of a surprised collaboration between Tudor and Breitling.

Breitling's 01 serves as a base for the watch's new vertical clutch column-wheel chronograph Calibre MT5813. Tudor built on it its own oscillating weight, adjustable mass balance well and features such as the silicon balance spring. The automatic movement, housed in a 41mm steel case, has a three-day power reserve with a "foolproof" date adjustment mechanism.

But Tudor's choice as poster boy for the brand's new watches appears to be the S&G (CHF 4,750 in S&G bracelet, CHF3,600 in fabric strap). It's already on the wrist of new Tudor ambassador David Beckham, seen in the brand's promotion materials.

The watch's rotating bezel, winding crown and end-links are solid 18 carats yellow gold; the centre links and crown of the 1950s-style bracelet are gold-capped. The S&G is a first for a Heritage Black Bay watch. Another new feature is the the S&G's date function at 3 o'clock. The self-winding movement, COSC-certified Calibre MT5612 which is used in most Black Bay models, has a seven-hour power reserve.

Last year's Heritage Black Bay Dark has a deeper hue. The 2017 Black Bay Steel (CHF3,600 in steel bracelet, CHF3,300 in fabric strap) has a handsome and timeless quality with its monochromatic look. The date function at 3 o'clock is new. The classic chronometer is highly precise, thanks to Tudor's in-house movement (Calibre MT5612) which has a silicon balance wheel.

In the Heritage Black Bay 41 (CHF 2,800 with steel bracelet and CHF2,500 with a leather strap) the overall shape of the watches in the Black Bay family is retained but reworked for a more formal look that's both elegant and sporty.

The middle of the 41mm stainless steel case is redesigned and slimmed so that it can slip under the shirt cuff easily. For that purpose, a flat sapphire crystal is also chosen, unlike the dome shaped for the rest of the Black Bay family.