TUDOR Black Bay 41April 7, 2023
Right before the start of Watches & Wonders 2023, I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Tudor’s new headquarters in Le Locle, where the sister brand of Rolex makes its in-house mechanical movements. The new Tudor Manufacture is an impressive location where Tudor will be expanding production of METAS-certified movements. Within a few years, Tudor hopes to only produce METAS-certified movements. And this new reference M7941A1A0RU is the second watch from Tudor to come equipped with METAS-certified “Master Chronometer” movements. It also happens to be the third generation of the Tudor Black Bay — the brand’s bestselling sports watch product. Let’s take a close look at the 2023 Tudor Black Bay Master Chronometer collection.
“Master Chronometer” is a term that competitor Omega watches came up with in order to designate watches that have been given a METAS certification. Most people would never have guessed that the term would show up on a Tudor watch until it happened in 2022, when Tudor launched the Black Bay Ceramic Master Chronometer. With that slick black ceramic watch, the timepiece world learned not only that “Master Chronometer” was not a term unique to Omega watches, but also that Tudor was getting in on the METAS-certification game — a new Swiss government standard that is appreciably more robust than COSC Chronometer certification. Some of the highlights of METAS-certified watches are that they are tested with the movement inside the watch (not just the movement itself), and that magnetic resistance is a big part of the certification’s promise. Just as it was with Omega, Tudor needs to ramp up the production of watches it can equip with the right movements, then certify through the testing process. For now, only members of the Tudor Black Bay family have Master Chronometer models.Fresh out of Tudor’s brand new manufacture in Le Locle, we find a full-bodied unidirectional burgundy bezel Black Bay. This watch is now METAS Master Chronometer certified, meaning it was put through hell and tested for waterproofness, power reserve, magnetic resistance, and accuracy. This is a nod towards Tudor’s future plans to make their entire range METAS.
The watch is powered by Tudor’s Manufacture Calibre MT5602-U, which among other things, has been “weekend proofed” meaning you can take it off for 70 hours without having to wind it (that was in the in-house movement before but still nice to have). It can operate within a tolerance range of five seconds thanks to the non-magnetic hairspring.
In 2012 the first Black Bay was released with a burgundy bezel and it returned in 2015. Now, the watch returns to its red roots with burgundy, a beautiful black dial, a steel case, and slightly tweaked hands. It’s a little big at 41mm with a domed sapphire crystal, though thinner than the original BB. There’s also a redesigned screw-down crown with the Tudor rose. The bracelet is either a satin-brushed three-link steel or a five-oval-shaped-link brushed and polished steel bracelet. If you don’t want a bracelet, there is also a rubber option and all three mounts come with the Tudor “T-fit” clasp for easy micro-adjust. Tudor got the explanation of this fact correct on the dial. Watch fans love to joke about Rolex or Tudor dials with too much text on them, but that issue does not exist with the new Black Bay. This is a highly refined product meant to be a great mainstream luxury tool watch, but it also is made by people who listen carefully to design preferences voiced by timepiece enthusiasts. So, having the correct amount of text on the dial is an important point. Other small dial changes include a minute hand with a pinched end right before it connects to the central axis point. In fact, the entire Black Bay case has been redesigned, and while it maintains a similar 41mm-wide size, it looks like a very different watch.
The steel case for this new-generation Tudor Black Bay is the best the collection has ever had. The previous-generation Black Bay wore larger and had more visual mass. The new model is a bit thinner and has less prominent lugs that help the watch wear a bit smaller and more comfortably. The lugs also don’t run right along the side of the case, so a bit more attention is given to the watch dial (versus the entirety of the case shape and profile). The bezel edging and crown are totally new, as is the dial, but it is hard to tell until you put the new and older generation Black Bay models next to each another. Even though Tudor went a bit more classic in style with the M7941A1A0RU Black Bay, I think it helps make the watch that much more desirable.