When Tudor launched the Black Bay 58 in 2018, it quickly became one of the hardest-to-get watches. Despite being in Tudor’s widely available and extensive Black Bay series, the Black Bay 58 seemed to creep into no-date Rolex Submariner scarcity. Since then, inventory levels have increased so that most authorized dealers have them in stock for purchase.
It was easy to see why the Black Bay 58 became such a popular watch. While there was nothing inherently wrong with the original Black Bay, there was no denying that it was a large, slab-sided watch. The overall dimensions were too large for a lot of people with smaller wrists. Tudor fans had also been clamoring for a reissue of the Tudor Submariner. The Black Bay 58 with its vintage styling, color scheme, and smaller dimensions answered the prayers of many Tudor fans.
In mid-2020, despite saying they would not release any new watches after the cancellation of Baselworld due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tudor surprised everyone. Within a few days of rumors circulating a new Black Bay 58 (which I’ll refer to as the BB58 for brevity) launched on July 1st. The new Black Bay 58 Blue is a slight change from the original. Gone are the gilt and gold accents, replaced with silver and white. The biggest changes of course, are a blue dial and bezel.
Many criticized the watch for being derivative (something the Black Bay line has been doing since its inception), but many others felt it fit into their personal taste for what they wanted a smaller Black Bay to be. I’m included in the latter group. I’ve always been a fan of the BB58, but gold isn’t in my wheelhouse. So, when the BB58 Blue launched, I knew I had to take a look.
On the Wrist
Tudor certainly has a slab problem. Their dive watches, which are the larger Black Bay family and the Pelagos, are slab-sided watches–big hunks of steel or titanium that stand tall on the wrist, especially when fitted with their in-house movements. Some of these watches, such as the Pelagos, can mitigate this thickness with the case design and don’t wear as large as they appear on paper.
The Black Bay 41mm models don’t share that trait, at least on my wrist. The thick case and long lug-to-lug make it look huge on my wrist. The BB58 solves that problem. Tudor slimmed down the case in multiple aspects that make the BB58 one of those watches that fits just right. While the side of the watch could still be classified as slabby, it’s at least an elegant slab. It never feels too tall on the wrist.
Tudor’s relatively flat cases have always been comfortable on the wrist, even with some of the larger models such as the Pelagos. They turn down the lugs at just the right spot. The BB58 case is pure joy to wear. The 39mm case with its 11.9mm thickness and 47.75mm lug-to-lug is about as perfect as you can get on a dive watch without sacrificing anything, including water resistance. Even though some aren’t fans of the riveted bracelet, it does add to the overall comfort of the BB58. The whole package is comfortable, and Tudor put some thought into how this would fit on wrists that thought the original Black Bays were too large.
If you’ve never had the chance to give a Tudor bezel a spin (pun intended), you’re missing out. The bezel action on the Pelagos completely changed my view of 60-click bezels and made me prefer them to 120-click bezels for everyday use. The bezel on the BB58 uses the same type of mechanism as the Pelagos and it is simply awesome.
It is easy to turn and has some of the most satisfying clicky sounds of any bezel I’ve used. My favorite feature is the detent located at the top of the bezel at 12 o’clock. There is a tiny bit of extra tension that makes you stop at 12 o’clock when resetting the bezel. If you close your eyes, you can usually reset the bezel without issue. This bezel has made timing my pizza cooking times a pleasure.
I would like to see Tudor update the materials in the BB58’s bezel. The aluminum bezel insert helps keep the vintage soul of the watch, but modern ceramic bezels are more durable and won’t tarnish the look. For the price they are asking, there is no reason not to use one.
The BB58 is effortless to wear on the wrist. That’s a weird statement to make, but having worn watches that are bigger and heavier, the BB58 takes advantage of its smaller size and doesn’t feel cumbersome (especially when compared to the full-sized Black Bay). I wore this watch while doing everything–going for a run, pool time with my daughter, cooking, and yard work. There wasn’t a single thing I did with it that felt out-of-place despite its dressier appearance.
Tudor Black 58 Blue Video Review
The original intent of the BB58 was to be a vintage-inspired watch done right. The dimensions were meant to mimic watches of days gone by. The styling of the dial harkened back to the Tudor Submariner days but still gave the watch a decidedly modern feel. While the gilt-accented BB58 accomplished this through gold and fauxtina, the BB58 Blue does this through channeling the Tudor 79090 Blue or 94010.
I’m thankful that Tudor just didn’t pick an off-the-shelf blue to use on the BB58 Blue. The world doesn’t need another sunburst-blue-dial dive watch. The blue used is one of the most interesting colors I’ve come across on any watch. In most light, it looks like a faded blue/gray, almost like a blue that has patinated yet has no other aging (think an Omega Seamaster Bond bezel). It changes so dramatically depending on the lighting that I have a hard time calling it light blue, dark blue, or anything else. It’s a color that difficult to describe.
While taking macro shots for this review, I noticed the dial isn’t just blue. There are dark blue specks throughout the dial. They are almost invisible with the naked eye but become much clearer under a loupe or macro lens. I think these specks are what give the dial its dynamic appearance.
The dial has some other nice touches. While true of all Black Bay models, the domed dial is worth pointing out. The edges of the dial slope downward as they meet the rehaut. This effect is further amplified by the box crystal.
Although it may appear that way at first glance, the dial text is not white. Tudor opted for silver text on the dial, giving it a more luxurious look. It is slightly raised off the dial as well, giving the dial some depth. Paired with the silver surrounds of the markers and hands, it is a cohesive look that is captivating to look at.
Snowflake hands, an original Tudor design, were created to provide the maximum surface area possible for lume while remaining balanced with the dial. Tudor has accomplished the task of filling them with lume and I’ve found Tudor’s watches with snowflake hands to be some of the most legible watches I’ve tried on. There’s no mistaking which hand is which (part of how they got their name) and they are easily identifiable at a quick glance to obtain the current time. The BB58 Blue isn’t quite as legible as the Pelagos, but that watch’s legibility is in a class of its own.
Some of the criticism that has been levelled at the entire Black Bay series has been around the markers and handset combo. The mixture of snowflake hands and Submariner-style markers has put off some of the purists that want the square markers from earlier Tudor Submariners. If that is something you want, the Pelagos exists. For me, that is the end of the discussion.
Case & Bracelet
The case of the BB58 reminds me of the pre-Maxi-case Rolex Submariner. I feel the shape of that case, specifically the lugs, is more elegant than modern offerings. Tudor has carried that case shape into the BB58 and it fits perfectly with the slightly smaller case (as compared to the Submariner).
Finishing on the BB58 is excellent. The case is mostly polished with the top of the lugs being brushed. It looks like a sport watch that can easily be dressed up. The chamfers that run down the length of the case are beautiful and even though they are polished like the sides of the case, they still create a good-looking transition.
While I don’t mind the Tudor shield logo, their rose logo is far more attractive. Thankfully, Tudor has incorporated this logo on the crown. The crown is an ample size and the lack of crown guards makes it easy to unscrew. There is knurling on the crown but because it is fully polished, it can get slippery. You shouldn’t have to worry about winding this watch too often, however, as the automatic movement has a 70-hour power reserve.
The BB58’s bracelet is good, not great. Some are not fans of the riveted bracelet but that doesn’t bother me. It adds some additional dimension to the bracelet. The people who complain about the style of this bracelet seem to be the same people who complain there are too many plain Oyster-style bracelets.
The shortcomings come down to the clasp. If this watch had been produced 10 to15 years ago, the clasp would be perfect. It’s solid, closes securely, and incorporates the Tudor shield in a cool way. However, in 2020 we live in a world of quick-adjust clasps from brands like Monta, Christopher Ward, and…Tudor. Why Tudor hasn’t incorporated their best-in-class quick-adjust clasp into all their dive watches is beyond me. Make it happen, Tudor.
Another Blue Watch
I feel that I can’t get to the end of this review without talking about the color. I know I already talked about the shade of blue and how much I like it, but that’s not what I need to talk about. I mentioned in the beginning that there was some backlash about the BB58 because some felt it was derivative or “just another blue dive watch.”
The thought crossed my mind that Tudor may have been feeling some watch sales woes from the economic downturn and pushed out a watch they knew would sell. However, when I looked at the Black Bay’s history, I realized this was a natural progression of the line. The rest of the Black Bay line includes gilt models and non-gilt models, so why not the BB58?
The Black Bay has been Tudor’s bread and butter for over a decade and they keep expanding on that line because we keep buying them. Even if one were to argue they just changed the color, at least they changed the dial and bezel. There are other Black Bay models where only a bezel color change took place.
With all that said, I feel that the watch community needs to stop criticizing brands for color changes. Part of the money you put down on your watch includes the research and development costs of that watch. A new movement, case, complication, handset, etc. all comes at a cost. If you like having watches that don’t rise in price 15% every year, don’t get upset when a brand executes a color change. It keeps their line fresh and reduces the cost of bringing a new watch to market to keep that brand in business.
So, you’ve got some money and you want to get yourself a Tudor. If you’re looking at the Black Bay 58, it is hard to go wrong with either the original BB58 or Tudor’s new blue baby. I’m not enough of a fan of gilt to find an appeal to the original BB58 so the blue one is what fits in my wheelhouse.
Tudor has managed to create hit after hit with the Black Bay line. Whatever new model or colorway they introduce seems to do well. The BB58 is probably going beyond what they thought it would, hence the lack of availability at ADs when it first launched. The blue BB58 seems to be a tiny bit more plentiful at dealers right now but demand is still outpacing supply. It will be interesting to see if Tudor can keep up with it after the initial demand settles down.
I was convinced for almost 2 years that the BB58 was its own watch and that no other colorways would be introduced. I thought that another Black Bay with the same dimensions would be called something else, even if it were as simple as Black Bay 68. I’m happy that Tudor proved me wrong and I hope they keep introducing new colorways or even new complications to this size Black Bay. A BB58 chronograph would drive a hard sell with my wallet.
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|Lug-to-lug Height||47.75mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Water Resistance||200 meters||Lume||Yes|