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Friday, July 12, 2024

How Good is the new Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT?

Let’s not go into too many details… This watch, the Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT, was one of the most anticipated, most discussed and most appealing watches of the fair. Somehow, in its category of watches made for “normal people” (I’m here excluding highly complex or ultra-luxurious watches that only a few can afford), it stole the show. Why…? First of all, it’s finally here. Many watch enthusiasts have been waiting for a smaller, slimmer GMT watch by Tudor and this Black Bay 58 GMT is the answer to so many requests expressed to Tudor by the community (is it the right answer…? Maybe, but not entirely). Second, because it is once again a highly compelling watch, with a level of equipment and quality that few can rival in this category. How good is it, both technically, visually and on the wrist? Let’s find out. 

The Tudor GMT people have been waiting for?

Let’s go back in time a bit… The Tudor Black Bay, also known as the cornerstone of the brand’s collection, and a retro-styled dive watch, appeared on the market in 2012 – back then with a burgundy-toned bezel and an ETA 2824 movement inside. It’ll be followed by a blue-toned version and a black bezel model, respectively in 2014 and 2015. A few months later, Tudor made its first update to the collection with the Black Bay ref. 79230 equipped with manufacture movement by Kenissi. And last year, the Black Bay entered its third generation with a Master Chronometer certification by METAS and a largely redesigned case.

Tudor Black Bay GMT Opaline Dial Pepsi BezelTudor Black Bay GMT Opaline Dial Pepsi Bezel
The original Tudor Black Bay GMT, with its 41mm case (here in the cool white dial version of 2023)

But what about traveller’s models? The Black Bay GMT first appeared in 2018, in a 41mm case with a so-called Pepsi bezel and a black dial, followed in 2022 by steel-and-gold editions and in 2023 by a polar-dial Pepsi edition in steel (quite a looker, if you ask me…) However, right from the moment of its introduction, the Black Bay GMT caused some discussions regarding its overall size, and mostly its thickness. The 41mm was not particularly problematic, however, the combination of tall case-bands and an overall thickness of 14.6mm were not truly appreciated by some watch enthusiasts. Right from this moment, aficionados have been asking for a Black Bay 58 GMT, a smaller and slimmer traveller’s take on the already popular BB58 presented in 2018, with its 39mm diameter and 11.9mm thickness.

Tudor Black Bay Pro GMT 79470Tudor Black Bay Pro GMT 79470
The Tudor Black Bay Pro, another GMT-equipped watch with a smaller diameter, but quite some thickness.

The first answer of Tudor to that issue was not what people expected… I would even say that the Tudor Black Bay Pro GMT was not meant to answer these requests but was more of the brand’s take on the exploration watch (it was more an Explorer II, the Tudor way…) Still, it addressed one of the two concerns, that of the diameter, since the Black Bay Pro measures 39mm… But the thickness was still identical to the 41mm Black Bay GMT, meaning 14.6mm. Once again, Tudor fans had to wait. And 2024 is their lucky year, as the brand finally comes with THE watch so many were asking for, the Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT. Slimmer, more compact, and still a true GMT with diving credentials. The perfect BB is there. Is it, really?

The much-appreciated Tudor Black 58 (non-GMT) that served as a base for this year’s GMT version

Six years in the making (not really, this is for the context, as both the BB58 and the BB GMT were presented at Baselworld 2018), and what we’re looking at is the new star of the collection, the traveller’s watch by Tudor made for enthusiasts. Made by enthusiasts…? Maybe, as Tudor seems to have listened to the requests. At first, this Black Bay 58 GMT is undoubtedly a Tudor BB and a watch that feels like the result of a union between a BB58 and a BB GMT. They might had a good night and the watch is, on most quantifiable and objective aspects, a success.

Smaller, slimmer… better?

Let’s get the stats out now. This Tudor BB58 GMT is, for the most of it, an evolution of the long-appreciated BB58 dive watch, as it uses the same diameter of 39mm. Lug-to-lug? Very decent at 47.8mm. Water-resistance? Still as good as the rest of the collection and rated at 200 metres. Overall design? Identical to the latest offerings of the brand (the new Black Bay 41, for instance) and, as such, marking an evolution compared to the classic Black Bay 58. What has changed, then? Details with importance, such as the profile of the bezel now with a more pronounced and more classic pattern and a more traditional, smaller and slimmer crown that sits flush with the case. For the rest, the basics are still there. Strong inspiration from early Tudor Submariner watches, greatly finished and constructed stainless steel case with brushed top surfaces, polished case-bands and polished bevel running on the side, a box-shaped sapphire crystal on top, and a screwed back in solid steel. In short, it’s a Tudor dive watch with a GMT complication.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke giltTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt

What truly matters are the proportions of the case. The original Black Bay GMT, with its 41mm and 14.6mm was definitely on the large side. The Black Bay Pro, with its 39mm diameter and 14.6mm thickness, combined with tall flanks, somehow bothered a lot of enthusiasts (I personally liked the watch and wrote my opinion in this article). I do, however, understand some of the comments and can accept that a smaller case combined with some thickness can make things unbalanced. So be it. Now, with the Black Bay 58 GMT, we have a 39mm diameter and a thickness reduced to 12.8mm – and believe me, 1.8mm less isn’t something that remains unnoticed. It makes a world of difference on the wrist. As such, the BB58 GMT comes closer to the proportions of a Rolex GMT Master II, which measures 11.9mm in thickness but does so with a 100m water-resistant case and a flat sapphire crystal. And I don’t think there’s much to complain about the size of a Rolex GMT… In addition, the box-shaped sapphire crystal of the BB58 accounts for at least 1mm of the thickness, meaning that this new watch by Tudor feels closer to 12mm on the wrist than 13mm. Also, the 20mm of this Black Bay 58 GMT will be something that many will appreciate.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshotTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshot

Smaller, slimmer, shorter (the 41mm BB GMT is about 50mm L2L) and inevitably lighter, the Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT is a joy on the wrist, specifically on the rubber strap. It sits well on the wrist, feels solid as a rock and you can really feel the quality of the fit and finish. But nothing new here, it’s what most Tudor models feel on the wrist.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke giltTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt

The coke-gilt bezel that doesn’t reach unanimity

Let’s now talk about what’s far less objective… The looks. As a GMT watch from the Rolex Group, this BB58 GMT has to have a two-tone bezel. And the choice made here is an anodized aluminium insert in black and burgundy, with gilt accents for the 24-hour scale. No doubt that there’s a clear Rolex GMT Master 6542 vibe here. While originally dark blue and red, these watches have a tendency to change colour with time, becoming closer to a black and burgundy look. In addition, the numerals and markers on the bezel also changed colour and gained patina, resulting in a beige tone. Well, this new “dark-Coke-gilt” insert on the bidirectional bezel of the BB58 GMT was certainly not unanimously accepted and some would have preferred a more modern pure-Coke or Pepsi style. Tastes and colours… To each his own, but I personally like the results for its rather subdued look, its warmth and its vintage appeal. The BB58 collection has, after all, always been a more retro-inspired take on the brand’s dive watches. So yes, the BB58 GMT looks stunning as long as you dig into these colours.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mmTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm

The dial is in the same vein and continues the tradition started with the burgundy Black Bay of 2012 and the original black dial BB58 of 2018. As such, the slightly grained domed dial is black with gilt-like tracks, markers and logos, as well as gold-toned markers and hands with light cream-coloured Super-LumiNova. Once again, it has plenty of charm and retro touches. Maybe some will have to wait for a more technical take on this watch… What about a blueberry-inspired BB58 GMT with white SLN and rhodium-plated hands/markers…? That would look quite cool too. For the rest, we have a classic snowflake-styled handset, with the evolutions found on the 2023 Black Bay Master Chronometer – lollipop seconds hand, larger and longer minute hand, snowflake-tipped GMT hand. If I had one complaint to express, that would be the lack of contrast for that GMT hand, which uses the same gold colour as the rest of the handset. It doesn’t make it the most legible. Good point, however, for the cream-toned date disc, matching the rest of the dial, and the quietness of the dial regarding the literature (only 2 lines of text at 6 o’clock…)

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshot steel braceletTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshot steel bracelet

New Mechanics

As for the movement, the Black Bay 58 GMT comes with quite a lot of evolutions. First of all, its calibre MT5450-U is somehow new, or at least is an unprecedented development over the classic automatic base done with Kenissi. Being smaller and slimmer, and just like the no-GMT BB58, this new traveller’s model required the brand to work on a slimmer movement. Compared to the calibre MT5652 of the 41mm Black Bay GMT, the dimensions have been shrunken – 30.3mm vs. 31.8mm in diameter and 6.14mm vs. 7.52mm in thickness. What hasn’t changed is the fact that we’re looking at a true GMT watch, with an integrated dual-time function and a crown that adjusts the local hour hand by one-hour increments. As expected, it retains a stop-seconds mechanism and an instantaneous date function synchronised with local time.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshot rubber strapTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshot rubber strap

The other highly important evolution concerns the certification. Indeed, this BB58 GMT is Master Chronometer-certified, meaning that both the COSC and METAS have tested the movement and the watch for its precision, its resistance to magnetism (impervious to magnetic fields below 15,000 gauss), its water-resistance and its power reserve (minimum 65 hours). This is achieved thanks to a variable inertia balance wheel with a traversing bridge and silicon balance spring. As such, this automatic calibre MT5450-U comes with what’s probably the most demanding testing procedure now in use.


Finally, Tudor offers this new and more compact GMT watch with a choice of a classic rivet-style 3-link steel bracelet (once again, some would have preferred a more traditional Oyster-style…) or a rubber strap with well-integrated end-links. Both variants are closed by a folding clasp equipped with the T-fit micro-adjustment system (with an adjustment window of 8mm). Also, a really nice touch showing the brand’s attention to detail and focus on durability, the clasps feature ceramic ball bearings that ensure a smooth and secure closure.

Concluding thoughts & competition

On most objective and quantifiable aspects, there’s not much that can be said against this Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT. It is really that good. The proportions are finally the ones most of us wanted from the beginning, the overall quality is excellent, the watch packs all the features you can expect and more, the functionality and ease-of-use are undeniable, the watch is versatile and can basically do everything an active man or woman wants. Diving? Check. Travelling and keeping track of the time with a real GMT function? Check. Being a solid sports watch that can be beaten all year long? Check. It will even look good with a casual business outfit.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshotTudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer 39mm coke gilt wristshot

Now, like always, mechanical, luxury watches are emotionally driven items that are more than just a compilation of numbers and stats. I do, on a personal level, enjoy the colour scheme and the use of that old-coke, almost 6542-inspired tones. It is charming, warm and has its own personality within the brand’s catalogue. It seems, however, that it was not entirely the case for enthusiasts. But, as always, you can argue against personal tastes.

Looking at the competitive environment, it’ll be hard to find a watch with such a level of quality and certifications, at least in an identical price range. The Longines Spirit Zulu Time 39mm is the watch that immediately comes to mind. At EUR 3,500 in steel with a steel bracelet (about 1k euros less), it makes for a serious alternative with its silicon hairspring, its COSC-certified true GMT movement with solid power reserve and its overall appealing pilot’s look. Another option could be the Longines HydroConquest GMT 41mm, also a watch mixing diving credentials and GMT function, with a price of EUR 3,300.

There are dozens of more accessible sporty GMT watches available too, such as the Certina DS Action GMT, the Seiko Prospex GMT or the Mido Ocean Star GMT Special Edition, great watches but none of them can rival the Tudor regarding quality, certifications and functionality. And on the other side of the spectrum, anything from Omega, TAG Heuer, Grand Seiko or Rolex is either going to be far more expensive or not on par regarding equipment and mechanics.

Availability & Price

Now available from boutiques and retailers and part of the permanent collection, the Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT Master Chronometer is priced at EUR 4,420 on rubber strap and EUR 4,630 on steel bracelet. There was a time when such a watch would have been under 4k euros, but these days are gone and, even at that price, the BB58 GMT is surely one of the most compelling sports-travellers watches on the market. A stunning watch, at least if you like the coke-gilt bezel.

For more details, please visit www.tudorwatch.com.


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