Upon release, the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight quickly became one of the Genevan manufacturer’s most sought-after collections thanks to its classic designs, moderate sizes, and modern technology. The series pays tribute to a Tudor model from the 1950s, an era that saw the advent of diving watches. Its dial shares many characteristics with the Rolex Submariner, but its golden accents and snowflake hands are all its own. Retro watches equipped with modern technology are in high demand at present, and Tudor is – without a doubt – a leader in this area.
Back to the Beginning: The History of the Tudor Black Bay
Retro diving watches are enjoying a moment. Rolex’s sister company, Tudor, got in early on this trend with the introduction of the very first Black Bay at Baselworld 2011. The watch features the clean diving aesthetic we know and love from the Rolex Submariner, but it also comes with some unique features of its own, including a burgundy-colored bezel, so-called snowflake hands, and a 41-mm case. The Black Bay instantly garnered accolades from watch enthusiasts and industry experts alike. The line remains extremely popular to this day.
Tudor has released a number of versions with different color and material combinations over the years, but despite all the buzz, some potential buyers were put off by the 41-mm case size. The diameter was too large for slimmer wrists, and the case was quite thick, adding to the watch’s bulkiness. More and more watch enthusiasts wanted a slimmed-down version of the Black Bay, and Tudor eventually answered their call.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Details
At Baselworld 2018, the manufacturer presented their notably slimmer Black Bay Fifty-Eight. The case measures a reasonable 39 mm, and the thickness dropped from 15 to 12 mm. The band was also reduced to 20 mm, down from 22 mm on the larger models. On the whole, these updated dimensions give the Black Bay Fifty-Eight a balanced appearance on any wrist, making it a viable option for men and women alike.
As mentioned above, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight pays homage to an early Tudor model from the 1950s. More specifically, this watch is reminiscent of the Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7924 from 1958. Both watches are stainless steel and water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft). Of course, there are some obvious differences in functionality and design. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight makes use of a custom-built case, which – unlike the Prince’s Rolex-made case – lacks a crown guard.
The overall design is clearly influenced by the Rolex Submariner, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Tudor remains affiliated with this world-famous watch brand. The Fifty-Eight features a matte black dial and applied dot and bar indices. Its so-called gilt dial is particularly striking and dates all the way back to the 1950s. The minute track, indices, hands, and logo are all kept in warm golden tones, as are the graduations on the aluminum bezel. The red triangle with a luminescent pearl at 12 o’clock is a direct nod to this model’s historical predecessor.
There are some notable differences when it comes to the hands, however. While Tudor relied on Rolex-style Mercedes hands for the Submariner ref. 7924, the Black Bay uses their own snowflake hands. Tudor began using this style hand back in the late 1960s in the watches with reference numbers 9401, 9511, and 7021.
Overview of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight References
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight is available in three distinct versions. The ref. M79030N-0001 is equipped with a three-piece link stainless steel Oyster-style bracelet. This bracelet features rivets on the outer surface of each individual link that are hard to miss. Tudor chose to go with this bracelet design in the name of historical accuracy, as bracelets from the 1950s featured a riveted construction. The rivets on the current bracelet, however, are purely decorative; the links are actually screwed together. This makes them much easier to adjust and far more stable. The bracelet also features a high-quality stainless steel folding clasp with a fine adjustment mechanism.
The reference M79030N-0003 is the most sporty of the Fifty-Eight variants. Tudor mounts this watch on a black textile strap with a gold accent stripe down the middle. The strap is made in France by Julien Faure, a family-run business that has been making high-quality textiles and straps since 1886 Their clients include luxury giants like Dior, Gucci, Dolce & Gabana, and Montblanc. They use traditional looms to craft each strap by hand. The reference M79030N-0002, on the other hand, features a brown distressed leather strap with a polished stainless steel folding clasp.
In-House Caliber MT5402
As of 2016, all Tudor Black Bay models are powered by in-house movements. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight features the purpose-built caliber MT5402. This automatic movement boasts chronometer certification from the by the Contrôle officiel suisse des chronomètres – COSC for short – meaning it is extremely precise. Thanks to its 70-hour power reserve, you can set this watch aside over a long weekend and it will still be running when you put it back on. The movement ticks at 28,000 vibrations per hour (vph), which is now considered standard in modern-day watches. As you would anticipate from a three-hand watch, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight displays hours, minutes, and seconds.
Price and Performance
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight is a popular and highly sought-after timepiece, especially the ref. M79030N-0001 on a stainless steel bracelet. This comes down to the relative affordability of an original Tudor leather or textile strap compared to a stainless steel Oyster bracelet. You can find unworn examples of this reference on Chrono24 for around $4,100. However, some sellers ask as much as $5,000 due to the high demand. The official list price is around $3,800, meaning this reference has enjoyed significant appreciation in recent years.
The reference M79030N-0002 on a leather strap sells for around $3,700 on average, which is above Tudor’s official list price of around $3,550. It’s a similar story with the reference M79030N-0003 on a textile strap. If you have your heart set on a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, start watching the market so you can find the right moment to take the plunge. It’s best to set yourself a limit on whether and/or how far above the list price you are willing to go. If current demand continues, you can expect this watch to enjoy stable or increasing value over time. While the Black Bay Fifty-Eight has yet to see price rallies on par with select Rolex sports models, you never know what’s just around the corner.