With a debut at Baselworld 2016, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36 is smaller than, and lacks the bezel of, the more celebrated Tudor Black Bay 58. And while the Black Bay 58 has been getting major attention since its bow, it’s still worth a look to the Black Bay 36 that’s become a favorite of Tudor aficionados. So let’s delve into the details that have contributed to the success of the Tudor Black Bay 36.
Before the Tudor Black Bay 36
Let’s jump into the Wayback Machine for a trip in time (but just a mere three years back!). Baselworld 2016 was all abuzz about a new Tudor — the Tudor Bronze Black Bay. There were good reasons for the attention. With a striking high-performance aluminum bronze case, coming in at a grand 43mm and the signature Big Crown, it was difficult not to notice this watch. Mix in a chocolate brown dial and bezel with beige and gold accents and it’s hard to take your eyes off of the Bronze Black Bay. But those who did look away took note of the less showy Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36.
As you have probably guessed by its name, the Black Bay 36 has a 36mm case. The smaller size is likely the first thing you’ll notice. You are also apt to notice that the traditional rotating bezel is gone as well. The stripped-down combination creates a stunning effect, a muted and somewhat reserved presentation that doesn’t strain to get noticed. The black dial and basic white printing add to the no-frills aesthetic. On a steel bracelet, this watch can go seriously casual but dresses up for formal occasions on a nice leather strap. Or vice versa. It’s small size and low profile makes it incredibly versatile.
As you can imagine, its 36mm size makes it ideal for smaller wrists. The debut had two options at the time of purchase, an artistically aged brown leather strap or a traditional stainless steel bracelet. In an idiosyncratic move, Tudor includes a NATO strap in camouflage, as if to shout from the rooftops that this watch can be worn anywhere, from the boardroom to the backwoods.
Today’s Tudor Black Bay 36
At Baselworld 2019 Tudor rolled out a 36mm Black Bay with a striking yellow gold bezel and a shimmering champagne gold dial with black indices. That’s one seriously dressy tool watch! But you can also get the model with a black dial that tones down the brightness of the bling. And, let’s not forget it’s still a solid diver, with 150-meter water resistance, sapphire crystal, and self-winding ETA 2824 mechanical movement.
Those looking for a more subdued model will likely look to the Tudor Black Bay 36 with a blue dial (ref. 79500). Launched in 2018, it also got less attention than Tudor’s more high-profile offerings such as the GMT and Black Bay 58. But again those who did take note of the blue Black Bay 36 found a watch that’s exceedingly versatile. You can pair this almost deceivingly simple watch with just about any ensemble, from beachwear to formal attire.
You may say a 36mm watch isn’t all that small (and could even go with the 32mm watch in the line). But by today’s sports watch standards it is on the small size and that’s one a source of its strength. Complementing its somewhat demurred profile, the watch also leans to the slim side at just over 10mm in height. Detractors might argue that the signature Big Crown with the traditional Tudor Rose logo throws a wrench into the watch’s overall subtlety. And they have a point. But you bought a Tudor and the crown, along with the must-have snowflake hands, is an inextricable part of the package.
Comparing the 36 to the 58
As both draw inspiration from vintage Tudor Submariners, it seems nobody can talk about the Black Bay 36 without drawing comparisons to the 58. And justifiably so. We have glaring dial similarities such as the 12-o’clock white triangle markers, and alternating stick and dot hour markers. But the differences are equally notable. So let’s look at the two watches side by side.
While the Black Bay 36’s black dial is glossy with silver finishing’s and a domed crystal, the Black Bay 58 has a matte-black dial with gold finishing’s and a domed crystal.
The Black Bay 36’s movement is not COSC certified. The automatic ETA 2824 movement has a power reserve of 38 hours. In contrast, the Black Bay 58’s Manufacture Calibre automatic MT5402 is COSC certified and features a power reserve of 70 hours.
The Bracelets and Cases
Both of these Black Bays have waterproof oyster-style cases. The Tudor Black Bay 36 is rated water-resistant to a depth of 150 meters while the Black Bay 58 can withstand pressure at 200 meters. Given that most recreational dives max out at 40 meters that’s probably not a practical consideration. Both stainless steel cases have satin finishes and the Black Bay 36 has no bezel while the 58 has a unidirectional rotating bezel. On a rivet-style bracelet, the Black Bay 36 comes in at 117 grams while the Black Bay 58, with an oyster-style bracelet, weighs 129 grams.
So which should you choose? Well, if you lean to a watch that has more of a kinship with a hefty Rolex, you’re probably going to want to go with the Black Bay 58. But for a versatile watch that fits the many modes of your life, it’s hard to beat the Tudor Black Bay 36.