BLUE LAGOON
Watch Time|February 2021
Tudor has expanded its popular Black Bay Fifty-Eight series of dive watches. The latest addition is a blue version with a manufacture caliber and a moderately sized 39-mm case that has already won the “Challenge” watch award at last November’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). How does Tudor’s new entry fare in our test?
Jens Koch

The Tudor label has been trendy in recent years and can look back on a steadily growing fan base. Rolex’s second brand was stagnant for many years, but since 2009, Tudor has begun accelerating again. Tudor’s history, which is rich in characteristic design, is being emphasized in the brand’s newly launched retro models. The Heritage Black Bay, which looks back to Tudor’s early dive watches, was released in 2012. Its debut was followed by the premiere of the smaller Black Bay Fifty-Eight in 2018. The blue version, which we are testing here, was unveiled in 2020.

The name “Fifty-Eight” refers to 1958, the year in which Tudor introduced its first divers’ watch, Reference 7924, known as the “Big Crown.” The new watch’s diameter of 39 mm corresponds to the dimensions of the case of the historical model. In other respects, too, this new version, at first glance, actually looks like a vintage watch, an antique model. It even looks somewhat delicate, thanks to the rotating bezel and the smaller dial.

The vintage impression is further underscored by the domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, which is highly curved along its rim like the acrylic crystals of models from previous decades. The dial, too, is slightly convex like the faces of classic antique watches. The narrow strap lugs and the typography on the rotatable bezel also allude to Tudor’s history. The designers even opted to omit a date display, thus completing the historical impression.

Old Tudor dive watches with so-called “snowflake” hands have become famous and are eagerly sought after at auctions. The nickname derives from the squares at the tips of the hour hand and seconds hand: each is rotated 45 degrees and somewhat resembles a stylized snowflake. This detail first appeared on the tips of the hands toward the end of the 1960s and was retained thereafter.

In 1956, French naval divers turned to Tudor to find the ideal divers’ watch for their purposes. Tudor subsequently became the official supplier to French military frogmen. The combat divers opted for blue rather than black dials in the mid-1970s. Our test watch with blue dial and blue aluminum dive time scale recalls these timepieces. The aluminum scale is not as scratch resistant as its ceramic counterparts, but its matte surface goes better with this model’s vintage styling.

All in all, Tudor has succeeded in creating a very handsome and harmonious retro watch that looks even more timeless thanks to its blue color and the fact that it forgoes the golden hands and hour indexes that are usually installed on the dials of other Fifty-Eight models. Fortunately, functionality was not allowed to fall by the wayside: large luminous indexes and plenty of luminous material on the hands guarantee outstanding legibility by day and by night. The easily grasped crown decouples from the winding mechanism when screwed shut, thus protecting the latter. The time is easy to set thanks to the stop-seconds function and the absence of a date display, which accordingly eliminates the crown’s first extracted position.

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