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Tudor continues to expand its Black Bay line

Still diving-inspired, but with a touch of the contemporary to showcase new hybrid designs.

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Left: Black Bay PO1, a new addition to the collection, is based on a prototype made for the US Navy. Right: The latest Black Bay Bronze features a dial and bezel embellished in slate grey.

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(Left) The Black Bay Chrono S&G is powered by a Tudor “Manufacture” movement, with a column wheel mechanism and vertical clutch. (Right) One of the Black Bay 32, 36 and 41 models which have a new five-link yellow gold and steel bracelet, exclusive to these models.

THOSE acquainted with Tudor's diving watches of the 1950s and 1960s will be familiar with the models in its popular Black Bay line, which was rolled out in 2012. The latter bears many features of the early diving watches which have provided the inspiration for the Black Bay collection.

A new addition to the collection, which is the main piece in the new Black Bay line launched this year, may not be so familiar to Tudor fans. This is the Black Bay PO1.

While it's modelled on a diving watch of the 1960s, the latter was a prototype (PO1 stands for prototype 1) that didn't make it to the production line - hence, not many people have seen it.

It was a prototype made for the US Navy in 1967. Tudor had been supplying the US Navy with diving watches since the late 1950s and the new "technical" timepiece, made to US government specifications, was supposed to replace the Oyster Prince Submarine 7927 reference - the standard-issue then.

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But the prototype, which also incorporated the result of the latest research into functionality and ergonics carried out by Tudor's engineers, was shelved when the US Navy adopted the regular Tudor's diver watch, reference 7016.

CRAFTED IN A CONTEMPORARY SPORTY SPIRIT

The Black Bay PO1 is crafted in a contemporary sporty spirit, while at the same time embracing the principle of the winding crown at 4 o'clock and the prominent end-links of the 1960s model.

The 42-millimetre-wide stainless steel watch reflects the exploratory nature of the 1967 prototype, a cross between a diver and a navigator's watch. The hinged end-link-system of the prototype was the subject of a patent in 1968, which covered a locking and disassembling system for the bezel to aid maintenance of the watch.

The Black Bay PO1 has borrowed liberally from this mechanism, providing a stop system for the bidirectional rotating bezel via a mobile-end-link at 12 o'clock.

The timepiece, waterproof to a depth of 200 metres, is powered by a Tudor "Manufacture" automatic movement that's certified as a chronometer by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). It has a power reserve of 70 hours.

In 2017, Tudor recruited ex-English footballer David Beckham as its global ambassador - and one of the Tudor watches he donned for Tudor's highly effective "Born to Dare" campaign then was the Black Bay S&G, a vintage-inspired stainless steel and gold diver's watch which became one of the most-talked-about new timepieces launched that year.

The other Tudor watch Beckham wore for the campaign was the Black Bay Chrono in steel.

Two years on, Tudor has unveiled the Black Bay Chrono S&G, powered by a Tudor "Manufacture" movement with a column wheel mechanism and vertical clutch. The new hybrid watch combines Tudor's aquatic heritage, represented by the Black Bay family, with the queen of the race track, the chronograph which the brand first presented in 1970.

Tudor's Black Bay Bronze model won the Petite Aiguille prize in 2016 at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve, the watch industry's equivalent to Hollywood's Academy Award. Capitalising on that success, Tudor has followed up with a Black Bay Bronze model with a chocolate brown dial. This year, it introduced a new Black Bay Bronze which features a dial and bezel embellished in slate grey.

But the 43mm wide bronze case remains the central feature - in a material that reminds one of the brass used in old ships and other diving equipment.

The stainless steel and gold theme is also extended to the Black Bay 32, 36 and 41 models which will have an S&G version with a new five-link yellow gold and steel bracelet, exclusive to these models. The choice of a lacquered black or sunray satin-brushed champagne-coloured dial offers a further refinement of the watch's aesthetics.