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A Vintage-Inspired Watch Family. The Tudor Heritage Line Combines Historic Patina With Modern Touches

Paolo Gobbi

The Tudor Heritage line rolls out one of the most incredibly successful and affordable collection of dive watches produced today. The newest Black Bay, unveiled in Baselworld 2016, is dressed in bronze livery and inherits the general lines, as well as the dial and domed crystal, from the very first Tudor diving watches. It features the particularly prominent winding crown from the fam­ ous 7924 reference of 1958, known as Big Crown.

It borrows the characteristic angular hands, known as snowflake, from the watches delivered in large quantities to the French National Navy in the 1970s. The drilled holes on the side of the lugs and their particularly pronounced chamfering can be added to the list of notable historic design elements adopted in this new model.

AN ALUMINIUM BRONZE ALLOY CASE

The characteristic element of the Heritage Black Bay Bronze is an imposing bronze case, 43 mm in diam­ eter, which is an aesthetic reference to the use of bronze in historic ships and other diving equipment. The choice of this metal, a high­performance alu­ minium bronze alloy, guarantees the development of a subtle and unique patina to match its user’s habits. In addition to a highly functional appearance in line with the world to which it pays tribute, the Heritage Black Bay Bronze has entirely brushed n­ ishes that guarantee a homogeneous development of the patina.

A combination of chocolate ­brown dial and bezel – a first for Tudor – with golden and beige accents, completes the model’s look. The visual effect is that of a patinated object that could have battled the waves on its owner’s wrist for many years, and seems to have been fashioned by him and his lifestyle.

THE TUDOR MT5601 MANUFACTURE MOVEMENT

This is a variant of the Tudor manufactured move­ ment developed speci cally to equip the Heritage Black Bay Bronze model. Slightly larger in diameter and displaying hours, minutes and seconds func­ tions, it bears the reference MT5601, in which “MT” stands for “Mouvement Tudor”.

In 2015, Tudor announced the first mechanical movement in its history to have been developed, manufactured and assembled in­house. A high­ performance calibre of excellent precision and proven robustness, it offers a 70 hour power reserve meaning that its wearer can, for example, take o the watch on Friday evening and put it on again on Monday morning without having to wind it. Beating to a frequency of 28,800 beats/hour or 4Hz, the movement is regulated by a variable inertia oscil­ lator with silicon balance spring, held in place by a traversing bridge – a guarantee of its robustness. Furthermore, the movement is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

AN HISTORIC STRAP

Tudor has identified the historic uses of its watch­es and reinterpreted them in its latest models. For example, the French Navy had Tudor watches de­livered without bracelets and then equipped them with their own straps, handmade or otherwise. One of them, found on a period watch, is made of elas­tic recovered from a French rescue parachute. It is from this ultra­functional relic, recognisable by its central yellow thread, that the beige and brown wo­ven jacquard strap fitted to the Heritage Black Bay Bronze descends. In line with the characteristics of the Heritage line, it is accompanied also by an aged brown leather strap whose angled cut accentuates a rustic effect.

TUDOR OYSTER SUBMARINER reference 7923 was the only Tudor Submariner to have been equipped with a manually-wound movement. This technical choice made it a particularly flat divers’ watch. Thanks to its screw-down case back and crown, characteristics proper to the Oyster case, as well as its domed crystal, the waterproofness of the TUDOR Oyster Submariner was ensured to a depth of 100 metres.

THE TUDOR DIVERS’ WATCH

The history of the TUDOR divers’ watch dates back to 1954 and the launch of reference 7922. The first in a long line of ergonomic, legible, accurate and robust divers’ watches, it perfectly embodies the approach formulated by the American architect Louis Sullivan, according to whom the form of an object must follow its function. Furthermore, it laid down the aesthetic and technical foundations of an ideal divers’ watch, those of an understated, functional and reliable tool.

The sixty years that followed the launch of the original 7922 saw the constant improvement of the TUDOR divers’ watch and each model gained unanimous acclaim from professionals in the eld, including some of the greatest military navies in the world. It is this relationship with these navies which evokes ideas of travel and adventure that the Heritage Black Bay Bronze celebrates.

BLACK COATING

The characteristic features of the Heritage Black Bay Dark model centre on the 41 mm wide steel case, finished with a black PVD-treated (Physical Vapour Deposition) coating. Directly derived from the thin film technology originally developed by NASA for its various space programmes, PVD or physical vapour deposition enables practically any inorganic material to be bonded with metals. The Heritage Black Bay Dark has an entirely satin fnish, giving it the appear- ance of black military utility equipment.

With a choice of black PVD-treated steel bracelet or an aged leather strap with a black PVD-treated steel folding clasp, each Heritage Black Bay Dark model is also supplied with an extra grey fabric strap. Made in the Jacquard technique according to traditional methods by a hundred-year-old family business from the St-Etienne region of France, this strap is a signature feature of Tudor’s Heritage line.

A NEW STEEL BRACELET

Tudor has also reworked the steel bracelet which comes with this model, taking inspiration from the brand’s riveted bracelets made in the 50s and 60s. These were famous for having rivet heads for attaching the links in evidence on the side of the bracelet, as well as a stepped construction. These two aesthetic details have now been integrated into the bracelet of the Heritage Black Bay model, which bene ts at the same time from modern manufacturing methods with solid links. Also available with an aged leather strap and folding clasp, the Heritage Black Bay model is supplied in both cases with an extra strap in matching fabric: black or burgundy for the version with the burgundy bezel, blue for the version with the blue bezel and black for the version with the black bezel and red triangle. Made in the Jacquard technique according to traditional methods by a hundred-year-old family business from the St-Etienne region of France, these straps are a signature feature of Tudor’s Heritage line.

 

THREE VERSIONS AND THREE PERSONALITIES

The Heritage Black Bay model is available in three versions, each with its own personality. With its burgundy bezel, black dial, rose-gold hands and markers and cream coloured luminescent coating, the original Tudor Heritage Black Bay has the warm patina of an antique watch. Radically different and rightly nicknamed “Midnight Blue” by afcionados of the brand, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay with its blue bezel displays the ice-cold face and sharp contrasts which lend to the watch the look of a professional technical instrument. Of the three, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay “Black” version best captures the pioneer spirit of the first Tudor diving watches. A notable new decorative detail is the famous red triangle on the unidirectional bezel, taken from the Tudor models of the 1950s.

THE HERITAGE LINE

A key characteristic of the Tudor Heritage line is the unique creative process that began in 2010 with the presentation of the Tudor  Heritage Chrono model, a free interpretation of the brand’s rst chronograph dating from 1970. Since then, some of the most im­ portant references in the history of Tudor have been reworked within the Heritage line. Far from simply being an identical re­release of a classic, the models in this line bring together the past, present and future, with the aesthetic codes that contribut­ ed to the reputation of historic models preserved and instilled into contemporary timepieces. The Heritage Black Bay Bronze adopts this approach, offering a new reading of the history of the Tudor divers’ watch.

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