UNICORNS are real!

TUDOR has introduced something rather special, the Black Bay P01, a military diver’s watch based on a legendary prototype that was developed by TUDOR (Rolex) in the late 1960s and proposed to the US Navy, and in so doing, finally sheds some light on the watch’s little-known history.

In 1967, TUDOR, who had already been supplying the US Navy with divers' watches since the late 1950s, began development of a technical military watch to replace the Oyster Prince Submariner 7928 reference, which at the time was standard-issue.

This new watch had to meet several criteria set out by the US government and so incorporated TUDOR (or was that Rolex) engineers' results from their latest research into functionality and ergonomics.

A development phase was launched which resulted in the production of several prototypes, as well as a patent for the (until now) unseen function.

This special project was code named Commando, however it sadly never came to fruition as the regular TUDOR divers' watch, ref. 7016, which replaced ref. 7928 in the TUDOR catalogue, was eventually adopted by the US Navy.

Fifty years on, TUDOR have resurrected this mythical creature from their archives in the form of the Black Bay P01 - which stands for Prototype 1, a watch inspired by the US Navy prototype watch.

The Black Bay P01 adopts the principle of the 4 o'clock crown position and the prominent end-links of the 1960s model.

The hinged end-link system on the historic prototype was the subject of a patent in 1968, which covered a locking and dismantling system for the bezel to aid maintenance of the watch.

The Black Bay P01 model hasn’t made a carbon copy of this mechanism however borrows heavily from it, providing a stop system for the bidirectional rotating bezel via a moving end-link at 12 o'clock.

The Black Bay P01 is water-resistant to 200 meters and features hours, minutes, seconds and date functions.

It is fitted with a domed matte-black dial with painted luminescent hour markers. In keeping with highly toolish nature of the P01, its case is entirely satin-brushed for a matte finish.

Powering the P01 is Manufacture Caliber MT5612 with a satin-brushed openwork rotor with sand-blasted details, while its bridges and plate have alternating polished sand-blasted surfaces and laser-etched decorations.

The MT5612 also boats variable inertia balance, which is maintained by a sturdy traversing bridge fixed in two-points.

In addition to its non-magnetic Si balance spring, the Caliber MT5612 is certified as a chronometer by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). It has a 70hrs power reserve.

The strap developed for the Black Bay P01 model is a rubber base with a Snowflake motif on the back, finished with a brown leather trim.

In keeping with the historic prototype, mobile satin-brushed steel attachments connect the strap to the watch case.

Like all Black Bay models, the P01 is fitted with the TUDOR’s signature Snowflake hands with their characteristic angular shape.

Thoughts? This is a very cool release – if it had been released as the prototype watch (that we knew of) was under the Rolex name it would have been epic.

But of course that would never have happened, so we must graciously accept this rather incredible compromise.