Welcome to another Sunday Morning Showdown! This week, we have RJ and Thomas facing off. And this time, we have a battle of water-resistant chronographs with vintage vibes. In RJ’s corner, we find the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, while Thomas is defending the Zodiac Sea-Chron. There’s certainly no lack of wrist presence this week, Fratelli! These chronographs share vintage inspiration, a (reverse) panda layout, and water resistance to 200 meters. That, however, is where similarities end. So, which would you take on your next adventure?

Have a look at the boys’ arguments, cast your vote, and share your motivations in the comments section below.

But first, last week’s results

Before we get into today’s battle, though, we have a quick look at last week’s results. Jorg and Daan pitted the Formex Reef 39.5mm and the new Seiko Marinemaster against each other, and guess what? The underdog won! It seems that many of you feel the new Marinemaster doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors’ reputations. The Formex Reef, with its impressive specs and accessible price, gained the upper hand.

In fact, it won by amassing 55% of the votes. That, by Sunday Morning Showdown standards, isn’t a small margin. The Seiko did get sympathy too, though. One reader commented that Seiko will forever be the king of divers. Still, the majority voted for a new king (that’s how monarchies work, right?). Another reader pointed at the superior specs and thinness of the Formex as a reason for voting for it. It seems many agreed!

Now, with that covered, let’s get into today’s match. This is the Zodiac Sea-Chron versus the Tudor Black Bay Chrono. Let’s start with the former. Thomas, take it away!

Zodiac Sea-Chron

Thomas: Zodiac Sea-Chron

Okay, clearly, I am defending the underdog this week. Tudor is probably one of the most popular brands on Fratello nowadays. Then again, so is Seiko, and the underdog Formex won nonetheless. So I will come out with all guns blazing to give the Zodiac a fighting chance. And, honestly, that isn’t all that hard. There is a lot to love about the Sea-Chron after all.

Best Watches Under €3,000 Zodiac Sea-Chron

However, let me start with a critical note that applies to both watches. They are both — what is a nice way of putting it? — a bit fat. The Tudor measures 14.6mm thick, and the Zodiac Sea-Chron is a whopping 16.5mm thick. It is disappointing that brands no longer seem to focus on thinness when it comes to chronographs. So both Tudor and Zodiac deserve to be called out on this. They are far from the only perpetrators here, but that’s no excuse.

Now, why would I kick things off with the worst trait of my contender, the one trait that is so obviously inferior to the Tudor? Well, it’s because the Sea-Chron is actually better than the Black Bay Chrono in this respect. Yes, it measures thicker, but it wears better than the typical slab-sided case of the Tudor Black Bay. The Sea-Chron makes an effort to hide its thickness, whereas the Black Bay Chrono does not. So when it comes to a nice fit on the wrist, Zodiac’s offering takes the victory in my book.

Zodiac Sea-Chron

The Zodiac Sea-Chron is rather dashing

I think the Sea-Chron is a watch you buy with your heart because you feel something for the brand and the styling. Zodiac is one of those OG brands for dive watches, and the Sea-Chron is at the core of that vibe. It is a modern interpretation of a ’60s design with hardly any changes made to it. In this case, that’s a good thing. The original was a stunning watch, and this reissue is rather dashing itself.

What I particularly like about it is the balance. It is a very busy design, but everything is laid out in a way that doesn’t feel cluttered. The symmetry is great, and the black-and-white color scheme keeps the wealth of small details in check. This provides a visual hierarchy that results in an overall attractive watch.

Crucially, it feels authentic to me. It isn’t trying to be anything that it is not. It is, quite simply, a reissue of a vintage diving chronograph with modern proportions. The Tudor Black Bay Chrono, by contrast, always leaves me struggling a bit. What, precisely, is it hinting at? Can I appreciate it as its own thing, or is it leaning too heavily on its big-brother brand? I don’t have the same issue with Tudor models like the Pelagos, but the vintage-inspired ones leave me confused.

The Zodiac Sea-Chron offers pretty amazing value

This is interesting: Tudor is typically hailed as the king of value in a market that has shifted upward so much. And, granted, you do get an awesomely made watch for your €5,670. The Zodiac Sea-Chron, on the other hand, comes in at significantly less than half that at US$2,495 (roughly €2,300).

Now, let there be no doubt that the Black Bay Chrono is much more refined overall. The case and bracelet are extremely solid and well finished. The Sea-Chron is more rudimentary in comparison. But here’s my argument: either of these two is unlikely to be your first and primary watch. A large, vintage-styled sports chronograph is typically a fun second (or third) watch. I feel that the Zodiac Sea-Chron plays that role much better. It is more distinct in its style, and with its more accessible price and easy-to-maintain Sellita caliber, it is more suitable for the role of a weekend fun watch.

I am all for spending more on better quality. I do indeed feel that the Black Bay Chrono is worth its price. However, to me, the Sea-Chron just makes a little more sense. Take it diving, as Nacho did, and don’t worry if you get some sand in the bracelet. Don’t worry if you knock it on a piece of coral. Or, hold on, be careful with coral! But you catch my drift. You don’t need the Tudor’s fanciness for that kind of fun! I am sure, however, that RJ disagrees. So let’s hear it, RJ!

RJ: Tudor Black Bay Chrono

With the Zodiac Sea-Chron coming in at 16.5mm thick, I should have picked the Seamaster Ploprof to go against it. But that’s not a chronograph, of course. The Tudor Black Bay Chrono is! And it has a lot to offer. Despite being a bit obese with its 14.6mm overall thickness, that measurement does suit the style of the watch. The modest diameter of 41mm makes up for a lot of its thickness, and what about its 200m depth rating?

Breitling B01 base caliber

Inside the Tudor Black Bay Chrono is the MT5813 movement, which is based on the famous Breitling B01. This chronometer-certified chronograph caliber has a power reserve of 70 hours and ticks at 28,800vph. I know there’s a big price difference, but still, I prefer the self-winding MT5813 that performs within chronometer standards rather than a hand-wound Sellita chronograph movement.

Suiting your style

We put these watches head to head because of their similarity in style. I am a firm believer that this is the most important reason for people to buy either one of these watches. Only a few will look solely at specifications when they buy a watch. After all, you’re not buying a laptop or a dishwasher here but something that will accompany you daily and should fit your style or preferences. However, once you pick a watch that suits your style, you will probably look at the other things that are important to you.

There’s the movement that I already briefly mentioned, but the Black Bay Chrono is also finished to a higher standard, as you can see in the images in this article. Whereas the Sea-Chron has a bit of superficial brushed finishing, the brushing on the Black Bay Chrono is of much higher quality. That comes at a price, of course, and it’s up to you if you think it’s worth it. Also, the dial of the Black Bay Chrono shows more detail, which adds up to the production costs of the watch, of course.

A better bracelet

I also rank the quality of the Tudor bracelet a few notches higher than the one on the Zodiac Sea-Chron. Additionally, I prefer the Oyster-style over the five-row design of the Zodiac bracelet. To me, it isn’t rocket science but just about whether you appreciate the higher quality of the Tudor enough to spend the extra €3,000+. Lastly, some of us also like to buy into a big(ger) brand. If you have a watch collection, you probably don’t care that much. However, if either of these watches is to be your first purchase, buying a watch from a well-known (and available) brand will give you some peace of mind. Think about warranty issues, servicing, etc.

I don’t believe the Zodiac Sea-Chron is a bad watch. On the contrary, it’s quite good for the price. It offers you a nice hand-wound chronograph with vintage-inspired elements. However, aside from the higher quality (and price tag) of the Tudor, I also like the design of the Black Bay Chrono a bit more. Sure, it softly nods to the vintage Rolex Daytona, but it also does to the Big Block and other Tudor models, whereas the Sea-Chron, I feel, has a far more generic design. It’s a bit of everything with a Sellita movement and an attractive price tag. That’s great, but don’t we all want to have a watch with a bit of an identity?

Cast your votes!

So, there you have it — Thomas with the Zodiac Sea-Chron and RJ with the Tudor Black Bay Pro! Both are impressively sized water-resistant chronographs with a black-and-white theme. Tudor offers a higher-quality watch for a higher price (as it should), and Zodiac brings an attractive-looking watch with some corners cut to keep the price friendly. Let us know which one you prefer and vote below. Also, let us know in the comments why you think your pick should win this week’s Sunday Morning Showdown!

Zodiac Sea-Chron vs. Tudor Black Bay Chrono