It’s hard to deny that if you want a great watch under €5K nowadays, Tudor is the first brand to turn to check your options. With the Black Bay and Pelagos lines, Tudor has two fan-favorite lines that offer great variety. With the introduction of the new Black Bay Master Chronometer and the Black Bay 54, the brand added two more great options that add to that variety. I was particularly interested in taking the new burgundy Black Bay Master Chronometer for a spin. With a METAS-certified movement, a slimmer profile, and an updated design, this is the future of the 41mm Black Bay. Could it also be my future new watch? A week on the wrist brought some much-needed insights.

I love what Tudor has achieved with the Black Bay line in bringing the brand back to life. The one model that would be perfect for my wrist in terms of size would be the regular 41mm Black Bay. But the watch suffers from a bulky case profile I do not like. Additionally, I reviewed the navy blue Black Bay 58 when it first came out three years ago. The slimmer profile and the crisp white and blue color combination make for a seriously compelling timepiece. But I can only wear that on the bracelet, or it gets almost comically small on my wrist. And even then, it left me doubting. So it became a matter of wanting to love a Black Bay but never finding that love.

The attraction of the new Black Bay Master Chronometer

That changed over time with the introduction of the Black Bay Pro last year. I love GMT watches and would love to add multiple great GMTs to my collection. While the Black Bay Pro was much debated, it grew tremendously on me. But it also suffers from the same issue as the 41mm Black Bay with a case that has very steep polished sides that accentuate the thick profile. On top of that, the overall proportions look off, with a 39mm diameter and a 14.6mm thickness. It still is very wearable, but that chunky profile misses the refinement I would prefer from the watch and what has kept me from loving it.

That’s why I was triggered when Tudor announced the new Black Bay Master Chronometer, or Black Bay Burgundy, as many call it. It has become much better with an updated design that shaves off a significant 0.8mm, resulting in a 13.6mm thick watch. It was achieved by slightly changing the sapphire crystal’s shape and updating the side profile and case to get an overall thinner and more wearable watch. Add the METAS-certified MT5602-U and a new 5-link bracelet with a T-Fit clasp, and it’s a seriously tempting offer. But seeing is believing, and why a hands-on experience is crucial in finding the answers.

It is simply an incredibly well-made watch

Straight out of the box, the new Black Bay Burgundy feels solid. There is no denying that it is a very well-made watch. We had the Black Bay 54 and this Black Bay Burgundy in at the same time, and everyone in the Fratello offices agrees that the quality of the Tudor pieces is tremendous. While we knew that already, getting that confirmation every time you have the chance to review a new model is still impressive. The first thing that caught my eye is the 5-link bracelet in combination with the Black Bay design. It’s a combination that some people don’t like—or even passionately dislike. I like it a lot.

Some people believe that historical relevance plays a part in whether a Jubilee-style bracelet should be used for a dive watch. While I understand these discussions all too well, I’d like to form my opinion on the looks and whether they are appealing. And in this case, it works well for me. The other options are the familiar 3-link bracelet with faux rivets or a black rubber strap. Put next to each other; I prefer the new 5-link bracelet that Tudor will not call a Jubilee bracelet, as most of you will know. The bracelet features a mix of polished and brushed finishes that looks nice and improves the luxurious feel of the watch.

Spotting the design updates of the Black Bay Burgundy

After getting a general feel of the looks, the updated design looks outstanding. The Tudor designers have managed to add a certain level of sophistication that works well. I’m sure most of you are well aware of the changes, but let’s go over them shortly. Let’s start with the dial. Tudor has changed the black domed dial by giving it a sunray brushed finish compared to the matte finish of the previous version. I have to say it is a very subtle effect that does not change the visual presence drastically. But it adds depth and nicely matches the vintage-inspired guild-colored elements.

The combination of the dial color and the gold-colored elements is super crisp, and truly impressed me. I was less impressed by the spacing of the depth indication text on the lower half of the dial. The ‘200m:660ft‘ text doesn’t seem to be visually corrected. Working in the graphic design industry taught me the difficulties of a mix of regular and italic text. It should always be visually corrected to place the colon in the middle. However, it’s not unique to this model, as other Black Bay models suffer from this visual hick-up. Strangely enough, it hadn’t caught my eye before but it can’t be unseen once seen.

The vintage-inspired looks of the Black Bay Burgundy

But we were in the process of discussing the visual updates. As you can see, there are only two lines of text on the lower half as ‘Chronometer Officially Certified‘ has been replaced by ‘Master Chronometer,’ referring to the updated movement. As a result, the overall dial design feels balanced and nicely detailed. In the next step, the handset has also been updated. The gold-colored set has a new lollipop seconds hands instead of a snowflake hand. As a result, the hour hand is the only hand with the characteristic Tudor snowflake design accompanied by a pencil-style minute hand and the lollipop seconds hand.

The applied indices and the hands are filled with cream-colored lume to compliment the vintage-inspired looks of the watch. Something that is further enhanced by the burgundy aluminum bezel insert. As we all know, there are no ceramic inserts but aluminum inserts to perfectly fit the Black Bay line’s overall style. Speaking of the bezel, I am a big fan of the new bezel with the sharper, more defined knurling. It not only gives the watch more character, but it also is very easy to grip and rotate the diving bezel. It’s definitely a step up from the previous version.

The updated slimmer case design

Which brings us to the much-debated case. The new case is 41mm in diameter, 13.6mm high, has a lug-to-lug of 50mm and a 22mm lug spacing, and is 200-meter water resistant. The case design has been updated and is significantly slimmer than its predecessor. While 0.8mm might not seem a drastic improvement, the changes in the design make it a significant step. What has remained, though, is the polished case bands that we know from Tudor. While slimmer, they still have a significant impact on the profile of the watch. I understand it’s Tudor’s style, but it still makes the watch look rather chunky.

Don’t get me wrong, at 13.6mm, it is slimmer and very wearable. But visually, I am not the biggest fan of these high-polished case bands as they accentuate the height. And for it to not stand out, you need a slim case like the Black Bay 58 and 54 have. That said, at 13.6mm, it is by no means the chunkiest watch out there. It simply lacks refinement if you compare it to the cases of its bigger brother Rolex. Something we probably will not see until we see a new slimmer movement that might lead to a completely redesigned case.

The METAS-certified caliber MT5602-U

Speaking of the movement, it is another major update, of course. The Kenissi-produced caliber MT5602-U is Master Chronometer certified by METAS. The movements are made in the new joint manufacture with Kenissi in Le Locle, which Nacho visited earlier this year. The new location features facilities that allow testing the movements according to the METAS protocol. Robert-Jan wrote an extensive article about Tudor’s METAS testing protocol explaining the rigorous testing of the movements.

In short, the testing starts with COSC-certified movements that are cased up and tested to be accurate up to 0/+5 seconds per day. Accuracy is tested at two temperatures, six positions, and power reserve levels, 100% and 33%. Additional testing includes waterproofness, as the watch needs to be water resistant up to 200 meters. In terms of anti-magnetism, the movement should be able to withstand magnetic forces up to at least 15,000 gauss. The black ceramic Black Bay model was the first Tudor watch to feature a METAS-certified movement. Still, as Robert-Jan in his article already expected, it seemed only likely that more models were to follow.

The expansion of Master Chronometer movements in the collection

And we now know that the brand plans to extend testing to the other 41mm Black Bay models before moving on to other models. Back to the MT5602-U is essentially the same movement as before. So the automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, has 25 jewels, and has 70 hours of power reserve. Furthermore, the movement features a silicon hairspring, variable inertia balance, and transversal balance bridge. With the addition of the METAS certification, this is a new standard for the brand that can only be complimented.

In the short time I had the watch, I didn’t focus on accuracy. First off, I’m not the biggest stickler for accuracy overall. But secondly, I would want my watch to be accurate for more significant periods, which is hard to do without having access to a watch for a longer time. So automatically, the questions were focused on the new design and the slimmer case, as they are the visual factors that triggered me to consider this as a potential future buy with a solid movement to back that up.

Wearing the new Tudor Black Bay Burgundy

Once on the wrist, the watch is incredible. The 41mm timepiece sits very well on my 18.5cm wrist. Additionally, the slimmer profile feels immediately better than the thicker previous version. The 5-link bracelet is super well made and wraps itself firmly but gently around your wrist. I have to say that it’s simply an impressive watch. Using the T-fit clasp is an absolute joy when it comes to sizing. In a mixture of hot and colder days, I was able to play with the micro-adjust to have it fit perfectly.

The one thing about the clasp I did not like was the sharp Tudor shield on the flip-lock. It is pointy, and if you don’t have long nails, it can be a nuisance to use. While not a big thing, it is one of the details I pay great attention to as this is a €4,5K watch. While it didn’t lead to great inconveniences, the question did pop up multiple times why Tudor would want this. I get that branding is a big thing in all its elements, but it should not be a physical thing on a clasp in my book.

Final thoughts about the new Black Bay Burgundy

During my time with the new Black Bay Master Chronometer, it was all about the details. Part of that is a result of the great watch that Tudor has created. Another part is that I would want my Tudor Black Bay to be a watch to love and not just like. And that’s where details play an essential role. Regarding the details, I have mentioned the text on the dial and the flip-lock. But a greater detail is that the side profile is still rather significant. Granted, the 0.8mm plays a big part in creating better overall proportions, but I would love for it to have that same slim profile as the Black Bay 54 and 58. And we’re not there yet.

Having said that, this updated version is a significant step forward for the Black Bay line. The METAS-certified movement is an upgrade in terms of technological standards and the design evolution is a definite improvement compared to the previous model. So it will be great to see the implementation of the same movement and design in the black and blue models. I am especially interested in seeing the new version of the 41mm model with the black dial and blue bezel. That has always been my favorite model as it does not have vintage-inspired looks but a crisp presence, and I much prefer that with this new Black Bay too.

What the future holds…

In line with Thomas’s assessment of the Black Bay 54, I am not looking for a modern 41mm watch with vintage looks. It makes it a watch that mimics something it is not. I know that vintage-inspired looks are integral to the Black Bay’s success. But with the expansion of the brand’s collection, I have seen designs that prove the vintage injection is far from a must. Two great examples are the aforementioned navy blue Black Bay 58 and the blue Black Bay 41. And it’s also why I have greatly appreciated the Pelagos line’s expansion.

Overall, Tudor is taking significant steps on many fronts, which I greatly appreciate. With that also comes various timepieces that cannot all be the perfect watch for me. But there is no denying that I greatly enjoyed my time with the new Black Back Master Chronometer. At €4,440 on the 5-link bracelet, €4,330 on the 3-link bracelet, and €4,130 on the rubber strap, this is a benchmark release. It sets the new standard for watches under €5K. And it’s a standard that is hard, if not impossible, to top for other brands. And that has only strengthened my belief that there will be a Tudor for me. It’s only a matter of time.

For more information, visit the official Tudor website. Let us know in the comments section what your thoughts are on this new Tudor Black Bay Master Chronometer.