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Review: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue

It’s one thing to create a watch that gathers huge attention across the globe, that generates fervent chatter right from the off, that comes from a line that arguably changed the outlook of not just a brand but a corner of the industry itself—yet that’s nothing compared to this, the challenge of covering said watch, when there is but one difference: it’s blue.

It’s like the bods at Tudor saw the format of this bi-weekly episodic and decided to really try and make my life difficult. They took an existing product—a good one, no arguments there—and changed it enough to cause a stir, but not enough to talk about for more than a minute.

Aside from the arrogance of actually thinking that anyone at Tudor even watches these videos, let alone acknowledges them, my conversations—and there have been a lot of them, a lot more than most other new releases—about the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue have all gone a little something like this: “What do you think of the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight?” “It’s blue.” And it is. It is blue. The name is nice and long to kill some time at least.

So … what? Why all this hype? I mean, yes, the blue hasn’t jumped up out of nowhere; Tudor dive watches have featured this icy tone since the seventies, a bit of a hallmark of the brand over its older sibling in much the same way as the coveted, squared-off “Snowflake” hands. Compared to the sensibly temperate Rolex iteration, the blue is a little bit of a flirt, originally just with the dial, and then the bezel as well as the seventies rolled on. By 1999, Tudor had sobered up and called the whole thing off.

Talk about bad timing! The 2000s was when Rolex really began to pick up steam with collectors, and that’s also when Tudor decided to basically pull itself out of the race. It’s like a gambling metaphor I can’t think of because I don’t really gamble where all the bettings are taken away right before the big win, yielding nothing. Or something like that. You know what I mean.

The Tudor Black Bay Collection launched in 2012

The Tudor Black Bay Collection launched in 2012

It didn’t take too long for Tudor to realise the mistake, however—at least, in terms of the watch industry where a decade is like a week—rebranding and rechunkifying the Submariner as an entirely new model, the Black Bay, although with a very large and very obvious dose of its now-extinct forebear. All’s well that ends well, however, because the Black Bay, and the smaller, follow-up Black Bay Fifty-Eight have shot straight to the top of the charts.

And that leads us to this: a blue version of that Black Bay Fifty-Eight that has somehow taken the world by storm. Where there was red and rose gold, there’s now just, well, blue. The hands, markers and other dial paraphernalia have of course receded back into a neutral silver but it’s the blue that abounds. If it had been bright pink with unicorns on it, I could understand the fuss, but blue is … well, it’s just blue. Am I missing something?

Before you continue, I’d like you to familiarise yourself with a little concept I’ve concocted called “fun”. Fun is the opposite of serious; it’s a rubber band pinged at someone rather than holding a roll of paper, a banana held down there instead of up here—it’s those little moments that make everything worth anything at all.

Perhaps you’re watching these videos for fun. I myself watch other channels for fun, including Aquaholic, a reviewer of yachts I’ll never stand near let alone own, Harry’s Garage, a reviewer of cars I’ll never stand near let alone, and Medlife Crisis, a … well, he’s a funny, clever heart surgeon one video away from being struck off. Check them out.

The Tudor Black Bay is Tudor’s best-selling watch

The Tudor Black Bay is Tudor’s best-selling watch

I’ll tell you what I’ve never done for fun: buy a Rolex. Don’t confuse the issue; it’s almost a matter of semantics but not quite. Buying a Rolex is sensible, adult, deliberate, but not fun. Not even the green one. Not even—the purple one.

But buying a Tudor is different. You don’t feel like you have to wear a suit when you buy a Tudor like you do with the Rolex. You can even bring that banana with you if you want. Rewind back to 1999, when Tudor’s party was pooped by the cancellation of its Submariner, only to be replaced thirteen years later with something most people would consider the same.

Call it awful timing—I call it the perfect regrouping. The Tudor Submariner was available in blue, sure, but it was so similar to the Rolex version that it didn’t have its own identity. It was just another, cheaper Rolex, and Omega was already doing that—side note, burn. No, what Tudor needed to do was go away, think about what it wanted from life, come back refreshed and with a tan and go at again with a clear mind.

What it did was copy Rolex, but this time with a fundamental difference: they added some fun. The Heritage Chrono, the Black Bay—they stand out against the other Tudors that trickled out at the time because they’re relaxed, laid back, whatever you want to call it—they are fun. Rolex without the stiff upper lip, the Submariner without the boring dive stories you’ve heard a million times before, sport casual but this time actually, properly casual.

The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue retails at £2,760 on a bracelet

The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue retails at £2,760 on a bracelet

I know this is true because I see people wearing Tudors who’d never wear Rolexes. I hear people getting excited about Tudors who’d yawn at the latest Submariner. Tudor isn’t just a cheaper version of a popular brand for those who can’t afford to shell out; it’s the choice of the cool uncle who bought a boat and a sports car instead of getting married and having kids.

So why is this new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue so much of a big deal? In isolation it’s not. It’s blue. That’s it. But when Rolex is busying itself tidying up lugs and nit-picking at crown guards and complaining about the humidity, Tudor’s too busy taking its shirt off and bundling people into the pool to care. It may not have the lasting power of a Rolex, may burn itself out faster and turn from embracing the now to just embarrassing—but for this moment at least, it’s actually a bit of well-needed fun.

From the outside looking in, a watch brand raising the roof with a bit of Photoshop hardly sounds like a night to remember, but things are a little different here in this community. And maybe we should take note—maybe we should expect more of the companies we pay out big to. There’s become a feeling that these watchmakers need to spin out something new every single year, an industry that makes Ents seem like busybodies, and I think that’s taking a toll. I don’t know about you, but I want hype to build around something truly special, not just a new a colour. Is that so much to ask?

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