In what can only be described as unexpected, a new diver debuted at Baselworld 2019 in the form of the Tudor Black Bay P01.

To be fair, there was a certain site that dropped all of the Rolex and Tudor novelties the day prior to the opening of Baselworld 2019.  And while I doubt that this person will ever receive any type of response or invitation from either Rolex or Tudor in the future, the article was dead-on.  Aside from the relatively non-controversial releases within, there was one real surprise: the Tudor Black Bay P01.

Tudor Black Bay P01

Tudor Black Bay P01 – Based on a Prototype

For several years, forum denizens have been discussing a very oddly designed Tudor dive watch that was apparently designed in the 1960’s as a proposal submission to the US Navy.  It contained an “odd for Rolex/Tudor” crown at 4:00 surrounded by massive crown guards and a monolithic set of end links that served as bezel locks at both 6 and 12:00.  A batch of these watches existed in the wild and it was ultimately discovered that they were fakes.  But was there ever a real version of this watch?  Well, today, Tudor explained that the brand had in fact developed such a watch in order to respond to a request from the US Navy – called “Project Commando” – for a watch to be designed within a certain set of specifications for what I am assuming was the Navy Seals.  And while the watch was not chosen, we”ll now receive a modern interpretation of it in the Tudor Black Bay P01.

Tudor Black Bay P01

The Specs – A Different Style of Bezel Lock

The Tudor Black Bay P01 comes in at 42mm and with a length over 50mm.  It only comes on a leather strap lined in rubber that uses a deployant clasp.  It attaches to the large endlinks that, at least in one case, have some functionality.  The link at 12:00 can be flipped up in order to rotate the bezel in either direction and then pushed back down to lock the bezel into place.  The endlink at 6:00 simply overhangs the bezel, but unlike in the original design (it also locked the bezel), it provides no interference.  That bezel appears to be an aluminum inlay.  As mentioned, the crown is at 4:00 to avoid interference with the wrist but unlike other Black Bay divers, this crown doesn’t contain a spacer between it and the case.  The movement inside is the in-house MT5612 chronometer rated automatic.  Pricing will be a moderate 3,680 Euros when the watch becomes available in July 2019.

Tudor Black Bay P01

Our Thoughts – Buckle Up

It takes a lot to surprise me with a watch release these days.  For sure, I get very excited – just see the recent Breitling Navitimer Reissue and Omega Gold Apollo 11 releases and you’ll see that I don’t want for wonder.  But, man, the Tudor Black Bay P01 was akin to waking and finding yourself in another world.  In a watch world where most brands must sit around and think about what to do next to try and spark interest, I (and many others) feel that Rolex and Tudor have the easiest jobs in the world regarding product planning – they simply make it hard on themselves.  For certain, not everything has to be vintage-related, but each brand has so many great past models from which to consider as inspiration.  And yet, out of all watches – dammit some of us were hoping for a straight up Snowflake – we get the P01.

Tudor Black Bay P01

A Gutsy Move

With the Tudor Black Bay P01, we get a truly unorthodox watch within the Tudor/Rolex Lexicon – not unlike the 2015 release of the North Flag.  I think the dial and the bezel inlay are fantastic, but I am not so sure about the rest of the watch.  To be clear, I admire the hell out of a brand that debuts a watch that – unless I am wrong…and I hope I am – simply won’t be a huge seller despite a rather approachable price and build quality that won’t fail to impress.  This watch just doesn’t strike me as an everyday wear in the same way that, say, last year’s Black Bay 58 does.  Furthermore, the strap is a bit rock ‘n’ roll and not overly versatile unless you’re in a casual situation at all times.  Finally, the original prototype contained a bezel lock system that allowed the bezel to be removed for cleaning.  This watch doesn’t seem to allow for that and it was a significant part of the sales pitch to the US military.

Final Thoughts

Now, to reiterate, I’m a big fan of a brand being ballsy and the Tudor Black Bay P01 is normally my type of niche watch.  Maybe it will grow on me or maybe I just need to try it on again, but with a brand that truly debuts new things only once per year, this feels like a bit of a letdown for those of us thinking that the brand was going to come out with another amazing release in the vein of last year’s 58.  On that note, the more that Rolex constrains its supplies of steel sports watches, the more our desire for good old fashioned Tudor  Submariners grows.  Hey, at least we now have the dial, bezel and crown.  That’s a start!

Tudor Black Bay P01

For additional insight on the Tudor Black Bay P01, visit the brand’s official site.

Watch specifications