Tudor have never made it a secret that they worked in collaboration with some of the world’s most important naval forces, including the The Marine Nationale (MN) and the United States Navy (USN) and that its watches were widely issued by other forces including Argentina and South Africa. In fact, the development of vintage Tudor Submariners was informed through field-testing and research with both navies, most famously the development of the snowflake hands with the MN. These partnerships and the related watches have been key to the modern era Black Bay and Pelagos watches as well as the current Born To Dare campaign – a celebration of the daring nature of Tudor watches and encapsulated in the Tudor Black Bay P01.
Tudor’s relationship with the US Navy was key in the development of the P01. The watch is based on a unique prototype that Tudor developed for the USN at the end of the 1960s. Project Commando was the internal code-name for a watch that Tudor developed in a response to the new American Defense Department technical specifications for diving watches. The watch completely re-imagined the iconic Submariner with a new asymmetrical case and a patented bezel locking system. The bezel itself featured a steel 12-hour bezel, which was crossover feature that would also be useful for other applications where measuring elapsed time was important. Ultimately, the US Navy didn’t commission the prototype and the blueprints were archived in Geneva.
The Black Bay P01 next to the original Project Commando Tudor Submariner
The original Tudor watch
The new Black Bay P01 is an incredibly faithful reproduction of the Project Commando prototype from the late 60s. Driven by Tudor’s technically brilliant in-house calibre MT5612 movement, the watch case measures 42mm across and features an offset winding crown at the four o’clock position instead of the usual three o’clock placement. The unique bezel locking system was patented in the late 1960s on the original prototype, which allowed for complete removal of the bezel ring for cleaning. The P01 has a modern interpretation of the locking system that itself has been patented for its new way of securing the bezel. The large, oversize endlinks lock the bezel in place via a unique hinged system; a secure way to lock the bi-directional bezel that would be easy to operate when wearing the thick gloves of a diver or pilot.
Tudor’s new patented hinged endlinks that lock the bezel in place
This watch is steeped in historically fascinating information. Additionally it has a couple of ‘throw-back’ attributes that have vintage collectors sitting up and taking notice. One of our favourite aspects is the winding crown, which is a new interpretation of the classic Rolex and Tudor Trip-Lock winding crown that has never been seen before on a Black Bay. The dial is also very reminiscent of vintage Tudor Submariners, with its painted hour markers instead of the usually seen luminous-filled applied white metal markers.
The original Tudor Project Commando Watch at Baselworld
It’s a cool watch with an even cooler back-story. In a watch world where brands can sometimes bring out different versions of the same watch year after year, Tudor have broken the mould with the P01. It really is unlike anything else that has ever left the House of Wilsdorf and for this we are very grateful. Not everybody loves the P01, but there is certainly no shortage of people lining up to acquire the new Black Bay. Its different but holds many of the family traits true. It really is watch that was born to dare…