For a classic GMT time zone watch, it’s hard to beat the Tudor GMT in the Black Bay line. For one, Tudor knows a thing or two about aviation-inspired watches. They were at the forefront of developing pilot watches in the 1950s when growing access to transcontinental flights ushered in the golden Jet Age. Today Tudor puts that expertise to use in a GMT for the ages. Let’s take a closer look at the Tudor Black Bay GMT.
Tudor Versus Rolex… Yet Again
Inevitably, when you talk about a Tudor you get into the rivalry with Rolex. And before we delve into the wonders of the Black Bay GMT it’s worth a glance at this timepiece. And its somewhat complicated relationship with Rolex.
Sure, the current GMT version of the Black Bay owes some of its makeup (including exact dimensions) to Tudor’s now-famed Black Bay dive watch. That watch made its debut at Baselworld in 2012. A vintage-style timepiece that owed its throwback design to a Tudor dive watch from the 1950s — the Submariner. Or, more accurately, a Rolex Submariner back in 1953 when Tudor and Rolex were under the same business umbrella. The two watch brands would produce similar but separate dive watches not long after. So, in an unusual twist of fate, today’s Tudor GMT owes at least a begrudging nod to a Rolex dive watch from a previous century.
But the Tudor Black Bay GMT is unique in that it shares no history with other GMTs in the Tudor line. There have been some fine Tudor GMTs in the past. Notably, the Heritage Chronograph with its fairly awesome twelve-hour-bezel. But the Black Bay does not reference any other Tudors as such. Again, back to Rolex, the Tudor Black Bay GMT draws some inspiration from the Rolex GMT-Master.
A Size That’s Just Right
But enough of all of that brand bickering. Let’s get into what makes the Tudor Black Bay GMT a truly spectacular timepiece. With a profile of 14.6mm and a diameter of 41mm, the case is the exact size as others in the Black Bay line. This size sits right astride what many tool watch lovers see as the dimension sweet spot, just between small and large. The exposed sapphire crystal takes the thickness to an even 15mm. A polished lug facet and likewise flanks also keep the appearance from heading into clunky town. But this is well balanced by a diameter that tops the 40-mm threshold to satisfy those who like some heft with their GMTs.
All About the Bezel
The bezel is likely the first thing to catch your eye when looking at a Tudor Black Bay GMT and one of its most impressive features. Adopting a color scheme from previous Black Bay (and, yes, Rolex) models, the GMT combines deep navy blue with a burgundy-red hue for a classic matte-finish look (and earning it the nickname “Pepsi” for its similarity to the cola logo). The combo creates a true tool watch feel that recalls the spirit of classic Rolex GMT-Masters. Instead of ceramic, the aluminum insert gives the watch a much more subtle feel and ensures that the vintage vibe will continue as it develops a nice patina over the years.
As for functionality, the 24-hour bi-directional bezel has sharp teeth and offers an effortless grip and turn. It’s also calibrated for one-day cycles, with twelve evening hours on the blue section and twelve daytime hours on the burgundy side.
Diver Dial and Snowflake Hands
Two different decades are honored on the face. The Tudor Black Bay GMT’s black matte dial is an unashamed homage to Tudor dive watches in the 1950s. Silver is the tone for the large markers, dial text, indices, and hands. And let’s talk about those notable hands! Making their debut in 1969, the trademark Tudor hands have come to be called “snowflake” hands by collectors. They’re also in silver except for the GMT hand that offers a refreshing pop of red. The combo of silver touches against the even-tempered blues and reds creates a clean soothing look that gives the watch an overall temperate feel.
Track Three Time Zones
And the Tudor Black Bay GMT is a true GMT. Local time is displayed by the hour hand while home time is tracked by the GMT hand. The modular GMTs have inverted hand functions that require setting. The watch’s jumping local-hour hand function lets you leap the hour hand forward or backward after crossing into a different time zone. Keep track of a third-time zone with a wee bit of math. Calculate the GMT hand via the 24-hour display against the dial’s hour markers.
And Yes, You Can Take It Diving!
While generally not touted as a big selling point, the watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters. Like its dive-watch cousins, the Black Bay GMT can remain on your wrist in the pool or take deeper plunges into ocean waters.
Tudor Black Bay GMT Conclusion
Maybe you’re on the fence about whether your next watch should be a dive watch or a GMT. Maybe you feel conflicted in the middle of the age-old struggle between Tudor and Rolex. Perhaps you want both vintage style and a forward-leaning timepiece. If you fit into any of these classic conundrums of watch collectors, maybe it’s time to look to a Tudor Black Bay GMT.