Six years ago Tudor gave the world the Black Bay 58 and it was exactly what vintage watch collectors and enthusiasts had been dreaming of. Since its launch in 2012, there has been nothing but praise for the Black Bay, which draws heavily on the vintage watches in Tudor’s back catalogue. The Black Bay 58, however, was a new beast in a new case and profile that was very faithfully based on the Tudor Submariner reference 7924 from 1958; hence the ‘58’ in the name. The 7924 was used extensively by military forces around the world and was one of the founding fathers of the Tudor dive watch line.
The new Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue
The Tudor Submariner reference 7924 was the product of a relationship that began in 1956, when the French Navy ordered a batch of Submariners reference 7922 to issue to its divers. The 7922 was actually the original inspiration for the Black Bay 79220 that first appeared in 2012. The 7922 was depth rated to only 100 meters and the French divers needed a watch that was depth rated to 200 metres. In response Tudor created the reference 7924, which was born in 1958. The watch featured a large ‘oversize’ 8mm winding crown and a bi-rotating bezel. Collectors refer to these pieces as ‘Big Crown’ Submariners and they are now very rare and are considered a connoisseur’s watch. It was this watch that Tudor used, as I mentioned above, as the blueprint for the original Black Bay 58 in 2018.
An original 7924 next to the Black Bay 58 Black
The most well known diving watch that was employed by the Marine Nationale is the blue dialed Submariner with ‘Snowflake’ hands and square hour markers. The ‘Snowflake’ hands were introduced in 1969 as a direct response to the French divers’ request for more legible hands for darker diving conditions. The casebacks of these watches were engraved with the initials MN followed by the short-form year of delivery; for example MN77 for a watch delivered in 1977. The watches were worn on fabric straps or in some cases fitted with straps made by the servicemen from spare webbing used for parachute straps. The French Navy continued ordering Tudor Submariners until the mid 1980s and the watches remained in active service all the way to the early 2000s.
Vintage and Modern Blue Snowflakes – Ref 9401 and BB58 Navy Blue
The Black Bay 58, based on the 7924 Submariner, was an instant smash with collectors when it was unveiled two years ago. So much so for many months there was a waiting list. However, the blue snowflake watches from Tudor have always been a firm favourite with vintage collectors and now fans of these stylish blue watches have had their prayers answered with a Black Bay 58 Navy Blue! The blue bezel and dial with the snowflake hands, combined with the 39mm no-crown-guard case is exactly what the offspring of a 7924 and a blue 9401 would look like. The new Black Bay 58 Navy Blue is every bit as cool as the original, with a 39mm steel case and rivet bracelet that echoes the rivet-style bracelets of the 1950s and 60s. The watch, however, comes into its own on the military-esque fabric strap in navy with a grey stripe down its length.
Vintage styling with the rivet bracelet
The cool fabric strap on the BB58 Navy Blue
Where the modern watch element takes over is the domed sapphire glass, which echoes the vintage look of the domed plexiglass, but in a resilient sapphire version for 21st century living and adventuring. The BB58 also breaks away from vintage Tudor tradition with the inclusion of an in-house movement. The 7924 and 9401 both used modified third-party movements that the brand modified, but the BB58 houses the in-house Calibre MT5402 that is COSC rated and can boast a 70-hour power reserve. And all of this comes with a five-year warranty! This is a great watch at a great price point and a definite winner for summer. Get your hands on one now!
No crown guards and a domed sapphire glass
Summer style – Tudor style