There’s no doubt about it, Baselworld 2018 is the year of the GMT for the Rolex group. The flagship brand dropped a new steel Pepsi version of the aviator’s watch, gave the white gold Pepsi version a blue dial to help differentiate things, and even brought back the “root beer” bezel on both gold and bi-metal variants. With its more approachable understudy, though, people have been wondering if and when a watch with GMT function would finally debut. Well, with the introduction of the new Tudor Black Bay GMT, that day is here.
Tudor kicked off Baselworld 2018 the night before its annual press conference with a video showing a new series of automatic, dressier watches called the 1926 line. Tudor did little to hide the fact that these watches are being positioned for the Asian market and is meant to give the company a foothold in the affordable luxury segment that’s often dominated by other brands such as Longines and Tissot. They’re fine, but the Tudor faithful was left wondering if this was all we were going to see for this year. Thankfully, along with the sleeper Black Bay Fifty-Eight diver, we get the new Tudor Black Bay GMT.
With the Tudor Black Bay GMT, fans finally get a more affordable alternative from the Rolex group versus having to save up indefinitely for a GMT Master 2. GMT complications, in my opinion, are somewhat underserved in the marketplace and this new Tudor even addresses a general need for more choice in the category. As we’ll see, the fact that it contains an in-house movement and is “priced to sell” only makes it more interesting. But how does it look?
The Tudor Black Bay GMT jumps off the page and screams “Rolex” from the get go due to its use of a bi-colored aluminum bezel insert. I originally thought it was blue and red, but Tudor explained to us that the colors are actually the burgundy from the original Black Bay and the blue from another of the variants. I like the tie-in, but I think about 99.9% of the population will see this piece as Rolex-derived. Some complained that it was a bit “cut and paste”, but the overall reaction was highly positive and I have no doubt that it will sell.
Inside the Tudor Black Bay GMT is the new chronometer-certified MT5652 automatic movement. The movement operates using a jump hour “normal time” hand whereas the red reference time hand is set independently. The date is set via jumping the hour hands. Power reserve is a respectable 70 hours.
Case wise, the Tudor Black Bay GMT uses the familiar stainless steel 41mm Black Bay case that features a domed crystal, screw-down crown, and 200M of water resistance. As is the case on a lot of the newer Tudors, the brand thankfully dropped the colored crown tube. What I will say is that the case is thick. If you’re used to current 41mm Black Bay models, this won’t be a surprise, but this is the only demerit I can find on the watch.
Concerning the dial of the Tudor Black Bay GMT, there are certainly some retro cues with the printed chapter ring, but everything is done in white, so this is aiming for a more contemporary look. Some may decry the use of the snowflake styled red hand denoting the reference time, but it works and I think anything else would have created a look with too many different hand shapes. One real positive that has been echoed by the fan base is Tudor’s decision to eschew the use of a Cyclops in the crystal. Sure, they haven’t employed it in any of their watches, but it’s a look that many try to achieve with their vintage 1675 Rolex GMT’s, so this is a welcome design choice.
The Tudor Black Bay GMT is available on a riveted oyster bracelet for a highly competitive price of 3700 CHF, on a gorgeous brown brown leather strap with folding buckle or a fabric strap for 3400 CHF. As always, the bracelet is a safe choice, but this watch looked fantastic on leather.
As mentioned, the Tudor Black Bay GMT received some fairly divisive comments from the vintage set. The concern was that Tudor used colors where there’s no heritage. Some felt that the Pelagos might have served as a more appropriate platform. Whatever the case, we’ll likely see a black bezel version of this watch in the future or maybe we’ll even get lucky with a brown-dialed Root Beer edition on bi-metal bracelt. If that’s what happens, I’m fine with it because the watch looks great. Whatever the case, it’s tough to deny that this is an attractive offering at an equally commendable price.
For more information and pricing on the Tudor Black Bay GMT, head to the Tudor site.