Raza

Sometimes it's Good to Break Rules

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Day 1 with the Tudor Black Bay; I'd like to say that this was the first picture I'd taken of it, but I actually wore it out of the store and put it back in the box when I got home for this shot

Itís funny how things work sometimes. How you can be so dead set on a plan and figure that things will happen that way because, well, itís your plan, and you can do everything in your control to ensure that it stays on track.

July was a bit of a whirlwind month for me. As some of you know, a couple years back I quit my job to go back to school and change careers, so Iím not quite living like an episode of MTV Cribs anymore (to be fair, I never really was, unless Cribs became about sparsely decorated one bedroom loft apartments). No more impulse buys, no more microbrands hitting the mailbox every month or so, no more frivolous spending. I found the best way to curb the watch wants was to simply pay less attention to the new watches that were coming out and spend a little more time reading soccer transfer rumors (I canít believe Paul Pogba went for £85m!). I cut down the collection a bit, and then just recently, drastically reduced the number of watches I own. But, I did find time to pick one more up.


If youíre reading this, I probably donít need to tell you about Tudor. I donít need to tell you about their adventurous designs compared to their big brother Rolex. I donít need to tell you about their storied military history, including the United States and French navies. I donít need to tell you about their excellent case finishing and their accessible ETA movements. I donít even need to tell you that theyíre putting some in-house movements into their watches these days, which is massively confusing to me.

The first modern Tudor that really opened my eyes to the brand; one I still hope to own. (Borrowed image)

I always liked Tudor, from the moment I saw my first blue dial vintage snowflake Tudor Submariner. I fell a bit head over heels when Tudor unveiled their Heritage Chronograph, a reissue/modernization/whatever of the 1970s Monte Carlo chronograph, replacing the handwound Valjoux 234 movement with an ETA 289x with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module and dumping that silly cyclops date magnifier. That watch has been on my list almost as long as there has been a list. At first it was unattainable because it wasnít sold in the United States, then it became unattainable because I found myself distracted by the next shiny micro diver to come to the market as the next best thing ever only to be replaced minutes later by the next next best thing. Trying to keep up with micro divers was like trying to stay on the bleeding edge of Android phones, which become outdated and outmoded almost as fast as they come out (and Iím an Apple guy anyway, never really did the Android thing).

So, I gathered up all my watches, chose the five most precious to me (and a Timex and a Suunto; more tools than watches, really, at best, and at worst, a prop for the adventurous life I wish I led), and despite some worry about missing the others, I listed something like a bakerís dozen for sale to cover the purchase of a Tudor diver, perhaps proving the fact that had I not been distracted, the Heritage Chronograph wouldnít still be on the list to this day, and rather it would be on my wrist. This came shortly after I tried a few on and decided that while I really liked the blue Black Bay (or the Bruise Bay as I, and no one else, call it), the Pelagos was the one for me. It had that extra millimeter, that extra ďtough as nails, here to go to the bottom of the ocean, grab your time machine and Jacqueline Bisset and her white t-shirt and letís go for a diveĒ factor that just says you and it together mean business. I was so sure that I was going to get a Pelagos--in a year, after I graduated law school and got a job in a market where I keep getting told there are already too many lawyers. So sure. So sure that it would be a Pelagos. That was July 2nd; a little over two months ago. Less than a month later, I bought a Black Bay and Iíve been wearing it ever since.


SOTC, now

I think itíll be helpful now to look at the timeline of events:

  • July 2nd: Decide I want the Pelagos over the Black Bay.
  • July 11th: Decide I want the Black Bay over the Pelagos. I was going to sell my MM300 to fund it, but decided a massive sell-off of dust-catchers could cover the costs.
  • July 26th: List the watches for sale.
  • July 28th: Put a deposit down on a Black Bay at the wonderful Sidney Thomas jewelers in Delaware.
  • July 29th: Pick up the Black Bay.



The actual first photo I took my Black Bay. I drove about halfway home before realizing that it wasn't set to the right time, and since my car doesn't really have a dedicated clock, I just didn't know what time it was.

I honestly couldnít tell you what it was about the Black Bay that got me. I liked it a lot when I tried it on. I thought it was the first successful combination of black and blue on a watch in history, but even then I wasnít sure I was going to buy it. When I tried on the Pelagos I knew I had to have it. But now, here I am, writing this with a Black Bay on my wrist and a watch plan that may not have the Pelagos in it. But in those 9 days from when I tried it on and when I made the decision to sell over a dozen watches to pay for it, the Black Bay grew in my mind. Something about it just trumped the no-nonsense feel of the Pelagos. Actually, I think thereís a fair bit of nonsense about the Black Bay, and I think thatís the reason I started to turn irrevocably towards it.

Thereís something special about this watch. From the piano black presentation box to the navy blue bezel, this watch has something that makes it more than the sum of its parts. We create these little rules. I know even Iíve been subject to these. No day-dates ever, for example (Iíve owned several, generally 7750-powered). No watches under 43mm that have lugs wider than 20mm. No 24mm lugs (and Iíve had several, luckily theyíre all gone now). No black and blue; it looks like a bruise. No cathedral hands (really, though, I canít stand these). Crown guards are a must (I mean, they guard the crown, which probably needs guarding, I imagine; like little versions of Fort Knox, watch crowns are). Watches should be between 42mm and 44mm for my wrist. So I broke a few rules. Black and blue together. 22mm lugs on a 41mm watch. No crown guards. But thankfully, no cathedral hands. But it does have a snowflake hand; a lovely throwback to the Tudor Submariner that I first fell for so many years back.


Atop sake that takes 72 hours to make and celebrates that on the label. Care for a drink?

So, I broke a few rules. But boy, were those rules ever made to be broken when it comes to a watch like this. Thereís something about this watch, something that only wearing it can capture. Itís no secret that Iím a Steve McQueen fan and I know that he was a Rolex guy, but there is an air of Steve McQueen about this watch. In my first babbling words about this watch after I picked it up, I mentioned that it was something I think heíd have worn. In my first babbling words, I said this is a watch that neither shouts nor whispers. And I still stand by that. Itís not the loud, loutish man at the bar, but itís not the man sitting there with reading the paper either (James May said this once about Aston Martin being the quiet guy with the paper in the bar who invariably wins the fight, but Iíve never once seen a person in a bar with a newspaper); itís the guy having an Old Fashioned or a martini (gin, stirred, up, and dirty, of course), whoís just having a good time with his friends. Free from worry, free from preconceived notions, free from whatever judgment passers-by may make. Thatís the Black Bay. As capable of a relatively deep sea dive as it is a four course dinner, it never has to worry.

I think it's rather photogenic, even if it is in my car, which, as a convertible, gets a special kind of dirty

Other than half a day I spent doing dirty work wearing my MM300 and another day spent wearing my Speedmaster, the Black Bay has been the only watch Iíve worn over a month and a half; which is a remarkable stat for me. Even though my collection was never expansive and is now down to essentially six watches, I still rotated often. I found that I rotated them less after my watch winder gave up the ghost and I succumbed to the momentum of ďWell, this one is running and itís out, so I might as well wear itĒ. But this is more than that. The Black Bay is infinitely wearable. It goes anywhere. Iíve worn it out to dinner, to class, out for a day running errands, and to a party or two. Itís such a versatile watch that the occasion doesnít matter. Itís just always appropriate. Now, Iíve not had the occasion to wear a suit or a tuxedo in the time since I bought it, and that would test the notion (though I really wouldnít hesitate to wear it with a suit, a tux would give me pause), but I canít remember wearing a tuxedo in the last 12 years. Maybe thatís a comment on my social standing more than anything else, but I just donít get invited to black tie galas or high school proms these days, so a tuxedo-appropriate watch has never really crossed my mind nor entered my collection. I know there are those who say that wearing a watch to a black tie event is an insult to the hosts, but I would imagine itís no more offensive than the weirdly pasty patch of my wrist that hasnít seen consistent sunlight in 21 years, compared to my usually brown skin.

A bit harder to shift this way, but I think it makes for a good shot...a bit of an homage to that picture of my Monaco that I still say is the best picture I've ever taken

In almost two months, the watch has averaged a gain of about 5.2 seconds per day. Iím not measuring day to day, but if I recall correctly, this lowly ETA is performing basically within chronometer spec. And while Iíve never owned an actual mechanical chronometer (my Breitling B-1 is a chronometer, but itís an anadigi, and, of course, quartz), Iíve had a few watches that perform within that spec, and itís completely refreshing to see Rolexís little brother brand compete in accuracy while burdened with only three little lines of text (beside the Tudor name and logo) on the dial. So while it doesnít bear the word on its face, the Black Bay is without a doubt superlative.

I would also like to take a moment to give a shout out, as the kids say, to Sidney Thomas Jewelers, particularly the location in the Christiana Mall in Delaware. I've walked into stores in the past ready to buy and walked out disgusted with the way I was treated, but at Sidney Thomas, I was treated not only with the utmost respect (which is really a baseline for determining whether the person you're dealing with is a decent human being or not), I really got the feeling that they didn't care about my age or race or that I wasn't buying the most expensive thing in the store or that I walked in wearing my "lowly" Seiko. I had an excellent experience with them, got a great price, excellent service, and I will return to them the next time I'm looking for a watch from a brand they sell. I feel like so much of reviewing watch sellers is the negative, I thought it would be nice to say something positive about a store that really, truly treated me right. And it doesn't hurt that one of the employees there geeked out over my MM300, which he'd, at the time, only ever seen on Instagram, and was very excited to finally see one in person.


The MM300 alongside the Black Bay. Surprising how close they are in size visually, despite the Black Bay being 3mm smaller at its widest point and significantly thinner. The MM300 looks like a pure tool watch compared to the Black Bay.

If I were a regular blogger, Iíd take a dig at the default answer of what luxury watch to get by saying something like ďWith the Black Bay and other Tudors being this good, whatís the point of Rolex?Ē Of course, itís silly to say that, and itís silly to pit the two against each other. While the Black Bay may be the closest in spirit to Rolexís watches, Tudor has an identity all its own. Yes, comparisons are inevitable, but theyíre as inevitable as they are unnecessary. The Black Bay, Pelagos, Heritage Chrono, Ranger, North Flag, and other Tudors stand tall on their own. Alas, thatís an unwinnable argument for another day; ask me about the social conditioning of people to categorize and compare based on tribalistic notions some time. I promise itís not as boring a conversation as it sounds, especially after a few Old Fashioneds or (gin, up, stirred, and dirty) martinis.

Until then, I canít stop smiling when I look at my Black Bay. Itís such rare thing in the world; something really, truly special. Donít worry, other watches, Iíll wear you again soon (probably--no, I mean it, I will).


Just chilling with my Black Bay; thanks for reading!

Updated Oct 13, 2016 at 02:19 PM by Raza

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Comments

  1. wschofield3's Avatar
    You have a way with words, Raza, and thank you for this very entertaining post. Just a man and his watch...the way it should be! I'll be sure to take a closer look at the BB as I'm thinking the Heritage Chronograph or the North Flag will be in my future watch box.
  2. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by wschofield3
    You have a way with words, Raza, and thank you for this very entertaining post. Just a man and his watch...the way it should be! I'll be sure to take a closer look at the BB as I'm thinking the Heritage Chronograph or the North Flag will be in my future watch box.
    Thanks Walter! I can't wait to get a Heritage Chronograph myself, so I can't blame you for wanting one.
  3. CamB's Avatar
    Great watch Raza and a fantastic read
  4. Cybotron's Avatar
    Nice work Raza. Great photos also. I almost bought the black bay several times. I probably should do it quick, as I like these better than the new Basel editions.
  5. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by CamB
    Great watch Raza and a fantastic read
    Thank you! It really is a lovely watch.
  6. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Cybotron
    Nice work Raza. Great photos also. I almost bought the black bay several times. I probably should do it quick, as I like these better than the new Basel editions.
    Thank you! One of the reasons I acted so quickly was because of the new versions. The inhouse movement might be nice, but the new riveted bracelet is a little too heavy for the vintage vibe of the watch and the 41mm width makes the bracelet look very wide compared to the watch. That just made the decision that much easier to make; it was worth it to consolidate, which I had been meaning to do anyway, and frankly, I haven't missed any of the watches I've sold off, while not being able to stop wearing this one. Right decision, I gather.
  7. Cybotron's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Raza
    Thank you! One of the reasons I acted so quickly was because of the new versions. The inhouse movement might be nice, but the new riveted bracelet is a little too heavy for the vintage vibe of the watch and the 41mm width makes the bracelet look very wide compared to the watch. That just made the decision that much easier to make; it was worth it to consolidate, which I had been meaning to do anyway, and frankly, I haven't missed any of the watches I've sold off, while not being able to stop wearing this one. Right decision, I gather.
    Yeah this version is so much better as I hate the riveted bracelet. I bet this version would be some what of a collectors item since it will be discontinued soon. Tudor really is on fire these days. It's too soon to speculate, but I heard from an AD, that different dial colors for the Black Bay could possibly be released at Basel next year. Could be interesting.
  8. gnuyork's Avatar
    Nice write up. Your passion for the Black Bay is how I feel about my (2500 series) PO. To keep on topic, I do really like the look of the Black Bay, I even half tried one on briefly (pressed for time), it was the red one, but in photos I like the red, blue and the black all equally, maybe the black a touch more. Thanks, and keep posting photos!!
  9. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gnuyork
    Nice write up. Your passion for the Black Bay is how I feel about my (2500 series) PO. To keep on topic, I do really like the look of the Black Bay, I even half tried one on briefly (pressed for time), it was the red one, but in photos I like the red, blue and the black all equally, maybe the black a touch more. Thanks, and keep posting photos!!
    Thanks!

    The 2500 PO is a classic in its own right, for sure. I'm a big fan, and would love to have one in my collection. If I ever do replace the MM300, the 42mm PO is on the list of possible replacements, as well as the Pelagos, Oris 65 42, Omega SMP, and Breitling SuperOcean 42. My brother has a first generation PO chrono, and he wears it pretty much everyday, despite also having some other nice watches, namely a Bvlgari Assioma and a Hamilton Ventura XXL (which I bought him!). The Hamilton does have a rubber strap and proprietary lugs, so there's no option for strap changes and it's not really office friendly, so I don't blame him for that one.

    Something about the black Black Bay that doesn't do it for me. It's perhaps the most vintage-y of them all, but it loses the playfulness of the red and the dial contrast of the blue.

    The Black Bay blue's greatest strength over the red is the everyday wearability. Black and blue generally don't stick out from the clothes I wear (my closet's color palette is pretty basic, lots of grays, blues, and blacks), and the white dial doesn't draw too much attention to itself the way the gilt dial does. In many ways, the Black Bay is a lot more like an Omega Aqua Terra than it is a lot of the divers that it gets compared to; once you put it on, you see that it's not really trying to play the same sport as watches like the PO and SuperOcean or even the TAG Aquaracer line. Oyster bracelet, thin case (something like 12.7mm thick, which may be my thinnest watch, and a little of that is the crystal; it's like 5-6mm thinner than a PO), reasonable case width (41mm) and length (49-50mm); it's meant to be worn everyday and can do so for many wrists around the size of mine or slightly larger or smaller.
  10. Samanator's Avatar
    This was a great Sunday morning read with my breakfast and a cup of Joe. Great piece of writing.

    Tudor has a place in my watch box. I did have the Black Bay with the red bezel, but was lured by another Tudor. When the Blue dial Pelagos came out it solved my only issue with the Pelagos that it was too drab. Once I got this watch the first thing I noticed on a dark evening drive home with the top down on the car was that even with a minimal charge this thing had serious lume. It quickly was a best friend on my wrist with it's incredibly adjustable fit, lack of weight and balance. It shows that tudor can play where Rolex does not. This and a Submariner can exist in the same watch box and never tread on the others toes.

    I have a feeling the same could be said for the Ranger and North Flag. These could coexist with a Explorer and Explorer II or Air King quite well. Each has it's own personality and function. With the new movements they can even satisfy an in-house movement junkie like me.
  11. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Samanator
    This was a great Sunday morning read with my breakfast and a cup of Joe. Great piece of writing.

    Tudor has a place in my watch box. I did have the Black Bay with the red bezel, but was lured by another Tudor. When the Blue dial Pelagos came out it solved my only issue with the Pelagos that it was too drab. Once I got this watch the first thing I noticed on a dark evening drive home with the top down on the car was that even with a minimal charge this thing had serious lume. It quickly was a best friend on my wrist with it's incredibly adjustable fit, lack of weight and balance. It shows that tudor can play where Rolex does not. This and a Submariner can exist in the same watch box and never tread on the others toes.

    I have a feeling the same could be said for the Ranger and North Flag. These could coexist with a Explorer and Explorer II or Air King quite well. Each has it's own personality and function. With the new movements they can even satisfy an in-house movement junkie like me.
    It's great to see such high praise for Tudor from someone with such a great collection, including Rolexes. Although, I'm thinking you and I have a bit of a different view of what's overlap in a collection! Although, I do have areas where I don't mind some overlap--like iconic or retro chronographs (which make up 50% of my collection).

    The lume is something else. Having had a Helson Shark Diver (actually, I might still have it, I'm not sure that was sold off yet) and a Sumo and currently and MM300, I didn't think the Tudor would be able to impress on the lume front. But I charged the Black Bay up under the same light source as my MM300 for the same amount of time and photographed the results:



    Black Bay on the right, in case you missed the distinctive snowflake hand. It looks pretty close to the MM300. I'd actually like to redo this photo with the new iPhone 7 camera, which is supposed to be quite good at low light photos. I want to see how close they look under that, because in usage, the Black Bay seems every bit as bright and legible in the dark as the MM300.
  12. iyonk's Avatar
    I read your writing with smile..
    Great job and Congrats Raza!
  13. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by iyonk
    I read your writing with smile..
    Great job and Congrats Raza!
    Thanks iyonk! I would order one of your straps for it, but I don't think it's ever coming off the bracelet!
  14. Teeritz's Avatar
    Beautifully written! And I love it when somebody gets a watch that ticks a lot of boxes for them. The Black Bay is a modern classic. Congrats on a great watch!
  15. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Teeritz
    Beautifully written! And I love it when somebody gets a watch that ticks a lot of boxes for them. The Black Bay is a modern classic. Congrats on a great watch!
    Thanks, T! I certainly agree with you on the Black Bay.
  16. tribe125's Avatar
    It's taken me a while to read this (I'm not a blog reader as a rule), but it's a fine piece on a fine watch - and a nice account of the internal dialogue we have when considering watches.
  17. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by tribe125
    It's taken me a while to read this (I'm not a blog reader as a rule), but it's a fine piece on a fine watch - and a nice account of the internal dialogue we have when considering watches.
    Thanks Alan!
  18. watchdaddy1's Avatar
    Well written & thought out Raza.
    Your enthusiasm shines right through the screen. I hope to 1 day acquire a BBB as I've been to Tourneau countless times & tried 1 on & absolutely love it from the hands to the case to that bracelet.
    I also feel ya on treatment @ an AD.It plays a big role whether you walk out w/ a watch or not.
    Thanks for sharing
  19. Raza's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by watchdaddy1
    Well written & thought out Raza.
    Your enthusiasm shines right through the screen. I hope to 1 day acquire a BBB as I've been to Tourneau countless times & tried 1 on & absolutely love it from the hands to the case to that bracelet.
    I also feel ya on treatment @ an AD.It plays a big role whether you walk out w/ a watch or not.
    Thanks for sharing
    Thanks William! If you do get a chance to get a Black Bay, I highly recommend it. I'm partial to the blue, but obviously with any version you get the same high quality that's so impressive for the price.
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