Welcome to a new Sunday Morning Showdown. Whereas last week’s contestants were much higher upmarket, this week, we’re putting two more common, mid-tier divers up against each other. The Tudor Black Bay 58 in blue was introduced about four years ago. Ever since then, it has been a very popular vintage-inspired dive watch. But how can it be that we’ve never put it in the ring with another popular diver? Well, maybe that’s because the perfect opponent just didn’t exist yet. That has changed now because, last week, Seiko released the SJE119, a blue version of the updated Marinemaster.

This is an exciting Sunday Morning Showdown because it’s the first time Tudor and Seiko will compete against each other with a watch in the same price range. We did put the Tudor Black Bay Pro up against the Seiko 5 Sports SSK005 GMT. Surprisingly, the much more affordable Seiko claimed the victory there. Let’s see what happens when the watches have similar price tags. But first, we’ll take a look at what happened last week.

Last week, on Sunday Morning Showdown…

As mentioned, it was a battle in a very different segment. Omega recently released new versions of its steel and gold Speedmaster Professional, so we decided to match them up with their Rolex counterpart, the Cosmograph Daytona. These watches aren’t for everyone, and that showed in the comments. Some of you honestly didn’t know which one to go for because you prefer the stainless steel versions of these watches. Others had a very clear preference for one or the other. In the end, the new Omega Speedmasters got 61% of the votes and went home with the (imaginary) prize money. Are they the better(-looking) watches, though? It could also be that our large Speedmaster following had something to do with it. All right, let’s see who’ll win this week’s showdown. Thomas and Daan, take it away.

Tudor Black Bay 58 blue

Daan: Tudor Black Bay 58 ref. M79030B-0001

Yes, I sold my blue Black Bay 58 because I wasn’t feeling it anymore. Yet, here I am, defending it against the newest Seiko Marinemaster in blue. It’s not that I hate the Black Bay 58 in any way. On the contrary, I still very much enjoy seeing it around and reading about how much Henry enjoys his, for example. It’s a great-looking and high-quality watch. However, owning it just didn’t do it for me. I get more enjoyment from my Serica 5303-3 and Rolex Explorer 114270 that replaced it.

Tudor Black Bay 58 blue

Putting it up against the new Seiko Prospex Marinemaster SJE119 seems like a fair thing to do. At its current price of €4,070, the Black Bay 58 is a little more expensive than the Marinemaster, which is €3,400. However, the Black Bay 58’s price when it launched was almost the same as the Marinemaster’s, at €3,430. And I still feel that people who are looking to buy an all-around dive watch will probably consider both these options. These watches have a lot in common besides their blue color, but they also each have their pros and cons. Let’s get into those a little.

Tudor Black Bay 58 blue

A more cohesive design

When you look at the dimensions of both these watches, they are not very different from each other. The Seiko is a bit wider in diameter but also has a slightly longer lug-to-lug span. Also, in terms of thickness, there’s only a 0.4mm difference. This means they’ll both fit very well on a wide variety of wrists. However, in terms of looks, they each offer a very different vibe.

Seiko calls this Marinemaster the 1965 Diver’s Re-Interpretation, and that’s exactly what it is. With its large, rectangular indexes and skindiver case, it certainly shares some of the design features of the legendary 62MAS. Then again, it also has more of a modern feel with its angular bevels, the horizontal lines on the dial, and the five-row bracelet. I like how the Seiko designers have tried to modernize the Marinemaster, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet. The individual elements don’t fit together that well, I feel.

Tudor Black Bay 58 blue dial

Tudor’s Black Bay 58, on the other hand, clearly is a vintage-inspired diver pur sang, and all the design elements are there to support that character. The matte blue dial, the aluminum bezel insert, and the Oyster-style bracelet all look great together (even if you’re not a fan of the fake rivets). Of course, whether you like one watch or the other better is very subjective. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to state that the Black Bay 58 is, objectively, a more cohesive package.

Tudor Black Bay 58 blue dial

Tudor doesn’t compromise

The other thing I don’t like about the new Marinemaster is how some of its features feel like compromises. The first thing is the 4:30 date window. It appears on many of Seiko’s current dials and allows for a fully lumed index at 3 o’clock. I also have one on my SPB317, and it doesn’t bother me. However, on a higher-end watch, I’d expect less of an in-between solution. Just make it a very nicely done date window, or get rid of it entirely. That’s where you notice Seiko’s more modest attitude in comparison to Tudor’s more confident one. The designers of the Black Bay 58 simply didn’t think a date window would look good on the classic diver’s dial, so they left it out.

The 6L35 movement’s specs seem to be another compromise on Seiko’s side. Yes, it’s a Slimline movement, which allows the watch to be nice and thin. However, it only has a 45-hour power reserve and an advertised accuracy of between -10 and +15 seconds a day on average. Tudor’s MT5402 caliber has a more comfortable power reserve of 70 hours and is a COSC-certified chronometer, meaning it should run between -4 and +6 seconds a day.

Well, that’s enough nitpicking from me. Yes, there are differences between these two watches, but in terms of overall quality and finishing, I think they’re very close, and both are great picks. What do you think, Thomas?

Thomas: Seiko Prospex Marinemaster ref. SJE119

Thank you, Daan! I must say, this is a close call for me. Usually, I have quite a strong opinion and will passionately defend my candidate. This time, I will admit that I was absent from the editorial meeting due to illness and happily let Daan pick this week’s contestants and his candidate. That doesn’t mean I don’t have any arguments to make on the Seiko Marinemaster’s behalf, though.

In fact, this battle ties in perfectly with an article I published on Fratello earlier this week. I argued that watch brands overly focusing on vintage design is like admitting defeat. Rehashing watches from the 20th century sounds to me like saying, “We have no relevance other than pulling your heartstrings.” I also argued that I feel this isn’t warranted because mechanical watches are still perfectly relevant today and not going anywhere anytime soon.

The two watches here today couldn’t form a clearer example. Both are vintage-inspired in the sense of paying homage to mid-century watches. However, they take radically different routes. The Tudor Black Bay 58 takes the sentimental one. It sticks as closely as possible to the aesthetic of yesterday. The Marinemaster, meanwhile, updates the look and dares to venture into a modern interpretation of a vintage foundation. This, to me, means a clear moral victory for the Seiko.

Seiko Prospex Marinemaster SJE117 and SJE119

Technically, the Tudor Black Bay 58 is the better watch

For once, I will take a more neutral approach to the Sunday Morning Showdown too. I cannot pretend as if the Tudor Black Bay 58 isn’t technically the better watch. I might as well come out and state it outright. If you handle both watches, the Tudor feels more solid, more refined, and better finished. The movement is also more advanced and better specced.

Luckily, that isn’t what watches are all about. You came out and declared that you fell out of love with the Tudor yourself, Daan. And we have noticed this is quite common for these vintage-inspired Tudor divers. So many watch enthusiasts have owned some variation of the Black Bay and later sold it. I am one of them. So what is it? I think it says two things. First, they have a very strong appeal. And second, that appeal doesn’t last. I will come back to my first argument and point to the overly vintage styling as one of the reasons. Yes, it looks neat. But after some time, it can leave you wanting something a little more original, like a real vintage Tudor or a contemporary one. Only true fans of modern vintage reissues will remain infatuated.

The Seiko Marinemaster is a different beast altogether. It has a much narrower niche appeal. Only a handful of enthusiasts seem to lust after dive watches like this, but they tend to be advocates for life. A high-end Seiko diver is a bit of an oddball choice altogether, making it cool. If you spot one, you know one thing for sure: its owner bought it for absolutely no one but him/herself. It is as free of status as they come.

The Seiko’s design requires a second look

You take some stabs at the Seiko Marinemaster’s design, Daan, which I get. The Tudor is prettier and easier to like. The Seiko takes a slightly more complicated route, which makes it a little harder to comprehend. But that doesn’t mean it is a lesser design. Again, I feel this is why you may enjoy the MM for longer.

Take a look at the case, for instance. Although it is based on vintage Seiko cases, it is a very modern and fresh interpretation of them. There is some clever balancing going on as well. The proportions are now nice and elegant, while details like the coarse knurling on the bezel and oversized indices and hands provide this watch with a very rugged aesthetic. Squint your eyes, and it is Seiko through and through, even if it does several things that we haven’t seen from the brand before.

The date placement you dislike, Daan, is a plus for me. Don’t get me wrong; I would take a no-date option any day of the week. However, there is a very large watch-buying audience out there for whom a date is a must-have. Seiko’s 4:30 solution is about as elegant as they come. In a sense, you get to have your cake and eat it too. Yes, you get a date, but you also get the clean no-date dial balance.

Cast your vote: Seiko Marinemaster SJE119 or Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue

These watches are two radically different approaches to a very specific brief — an automatic, blue-dialed, vintage-reissue dive watch in the €3K–4.5K range. Rarely have such similar watches in concept been so different in execution. And it is now up to you to cast your vote for your favorite. Of course, we would love to read your motivations in the comments below.

Tudor Black Bay 58 (Blue) Vs. Seiko Prospex Marinemaster SJE119