The Olympic Games are just around the corner. With gold, silver, and bronze soon to be on everyone’s minds, what better time to take a closer look at the ? Tudor just released this new timepiece a few weeks ago. I’ve put it to the test to see how it performs in several areas. So, is the new Black Bay 58 worthy of a gold medal? Or does it “just” deserve a bronze?
Design: New Bracelet, New Clasp
This isn’t the first time that Tudor’s released a bronze watch. In fact, there are already three other Black Bay models made from the same material. This time, however, Tudor has gone in a slightly different direction. The previous bronze Black Bays measure a rather generous 43 mm in diameter, making them ill-suited for slimmer wrists. The new watch, a Black Bay 58, has a diameter of “just” 39 mm, a size that appeals to a much wider audience.
Moreover, Tudor has introduced their first-ever solid bronze bracelet. This marks a significant shift, seeing as all previous bronze models come on a leather or NATO strap. This move has enhanced the design credentials of Tudor’s bronze line-up and taken things to a whole new level. You’ll recognize the dial design with its diving indices and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and the watch features an aluminum bezel (as expected). The dial and bezel are in a “bronze-brown” tone, which sends a clear message: Tudor is going full-bronze with this watch – no compromises.
The most noteworthy innovation is, without a doubt, the wholly redesigned “T-Fit” clasp. With this update, Black Bay fans are finally getting their long-awaited quick-adjustment clasp. You can now quickly adjust the bracelet by 8 mm without any tools. For me, the new Black Bay is a winner with its smaller size, bronze bracelet, and quick-adjustment clasp. That being said, I think it’s a shame that the clasp design is so similar to that of Rolex. I think it detracts from the Black Bay’s unique identity. I would have preferred a new clasp featuring the Tudor shield. For this reason, I’ll award the new Black Bay Fifty Eight Bronze a silver medal in design.
Technology: Tried and Tested
The Tudor Black Bay 58 Bronze gets its power from the in-house caliber MT5400. This is the same movement used in the gold and silver versions of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight. The caliber shares many characteristics with the MT5402, which powers classic stainless steel Black Bay models. Thus, there isn’t much new to report regarding technology, but is that really a bad thing? Absolutely not. The MT5400 is a high-performing COSC–certified movement with a 70-hour power reserve. The final watch is water-resistant to 200 m (656 ft), making it suitable for casual swimming. While the watch’s heart has been left essentially unchanged, Tudor has made some changes to the case back. Traditionally made of solid steel, the new gold, silver, and ceramic Black Bays feature a sapphire crystal display case back. This decision came as quite a surprise at first but has generally been viewed as bringing a breath of fresh air to the collection. Personally, however, I don’t think it’s consistent with the Black Bay line, especially since the movement isn’t particularly beautiful to look at.
For this reason, I applaud Tudor’s return to a solid case back for the new Black Bay Bronze. The adage “less is more” comes to mind here. All in all, I have no complaints about the new Fifty-Eight’s inner workings and, therefore, give the watch a gold medal in technology.
Materials: Is bronze the new gold?
Now we come to the choice of materials. So, what makes bronze watches so special? There is, of course, one thing everyone should be aware of before buying a bronze watch: the shiny surface won’t last long. Bronze changes in appearance over time and gradually develops a unique patina. The metal first develops a grayish hue before turning green. If that sounds right up your alley, then the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze is an excellent choice.
In typical Tudor fashion, the materials and overall “feel” of the watch are top-notch. Whether you’re turning the bezel, opening the clasp, or adjusting the bracelet, everything is seamless. I’ve never felt like I’ve had to compromise when wearing or using a Black Bay, and the same can be said for this watch. The bezel has a great sound to it and gives great feedback when in use. The same isn’t true for some much more expensive timepieces out there. The crown feels high-quality and is easy to grip, and the clasp closes with a beautiful full sound. There’s no question: In terms of quality, this watch is on par with more expensive timepieces, and in some cases, it even outperforms them! Personally, the only drawback I can point to in terms of material is how quickly the patina forms. I saw this watch mere days after its release, and it already had more patina than I would like. Of course, this is a matter of personal opinion, so I can’t help but award the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze a gold medal for material quality. What else would you expect from Tudor?
Do bronze watches retain their value?
Bronze watches are unique and, therefore, best suited for watch fans with particular tastes. This generally makes them less popular than their stainless steel counterparts. But does this mean they underperform in terms of price? Well, let’s compare the performance of the standard steel Black Bay ref. 79230B with the Black Bay Bronze ref. 79250BA with a slate-gray dial. When it comes to these two timepieces, the steel version has certainly done better in terms of market value. That being said, prices for the ref. 79250BM rapidly increased after the introduction of the new Fifty-Eight Bronze. This isn’t too surprising, seeing as the first bronze Black Bay has since been discontinued and looks very similar to the new release. Only time will tell how prices for the new Fifty-Eight Bronze will develop.
However, I think there is a high likelihood of appreciation. The Fifty-Eight is a popular watch. Plus, the new release is only available for purchase at select Tudor boutiques, meaning supply will be on the low end. Black Bays are generally very stable when it comes to price, but who knows what will happen with the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze? Does it have the potential to become a coveted collector’s item? At around $8,300, the market value is already well above Tudor’s official list price. Of course, we don’t know whether or not this will continue. With that in mind, I’ll give the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze a silver medal for value retention.
The Final Verdict: Gold, Silver, or Bronze?
With the Black Bay 58 Bronze, Tudor has launched a great watch that is truly bronze through and through. Plus, they’ve introduced a long-awaited feature into the Black Bay collection with their new T-Fit clasp. The quality of the materials and technology are top-notch as usual, and the watch has a fair chance of becoming a collector’s item down the line. Despite all of these positives, the watch doesn’t quite make the grade for a gold medal, in my opinion. Thus, I give it a silver medal overall. While the patina isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the biggest drawback for me is the clasp design. Yes, I’m all for the new quick-adjustment feature, but the decision to mirror an existing Rolex design has robbed the Black Bay of its unique identity. After all, that is what we’ve come to know and love about the collection.