Unsure Which New Watch to Buy? It’s This One

Johnny Davis
·3-min read
Photo credit: Tudor
Photo credit: Tudor

You’ve got to wonder what the folks at Tudor make of their company constantly being referred to as “Rolex’s younger brother”, “Rolex’s more affordable sibling” or “Rolex, basically”. On the one hand the two companies were founded by the same person, share the same headquarters and make similar-looking tool watches.

On the other, it’s been decades since Tudor took cases from Rolex watches and put off-the-shelf movements in them, saving money on in-house ones. Since the brand was relaunched in 2009, Tudor has forged ahead with its own reputation, unafraid to experiment with colour and design, while Rolex offers incremental design tweaks here and there. The comparisons must be a bit… annoying?

And then Tudor go and release something like this Black Bay Chronograph.

If it looks familiar that’s because it’s a dead ringer for the “Paul Newman” Rolex Cosmograph Daytona – arguably the most famous design in men’s watches (certainly the most expensive). The “panda" dial. The single line of red text. The whole size, look and feel. The comparisons are unavoidable.

But so… what?

Photo credit: Tudor
Photo credit: Tudor

If you can’t afford a Daytona (and you can’t) then this watch may literally be the next best thing. Unlike a Daytona you can actually find this one in the shops. It costs three-and-a-half grand, bringing the contrasting sub-dial aesthetic associated with those vintage Rolexes into an entirely attainable orbit. Also, it's made by Rolex's sibling brand. The quality-price ratio is exceptional. In fact, it's hard to think of a better "entry-level" luxury sports watch.

Tudor actually does have form with chronos, just not “panda" dial ones – loosely described as black subdials on a predominantly white main dial. The company is trumpeting 2021 as the 50th anniversary of its first chronograph – though the first Tudor Oyster chronograph was actually released in 1970. The models that followed the following year were great, earning the nickname “Montecarlo” because the dial looked like a casino roulette wheel. (Bright colours became a Tudor trademark.)

Photo credit: Tudor
Photo credit: Tudor

The Black Bay Chronograph is more recent. Debuting in 2017 it was a slightly awkward looking collaboration with Breitling (it supplied the base part of the movement). People thought it was too chunky, or too tall. Something was off.

Well, they’ve fixed all that. The new version is slimmer, feels sportier and the whole thing is more confident thanks to that eye-catching "panda" dial (did we mention the "panda" dial?). It just looks supercool.

As per all Black Bays it comes in a steel case with a 41mm diameter. The fixed bezel is stainless steel, there’s a 70-hour power reserve and 200m of water resistance. There are three strap variants: stainless steel bracelet, black fabric or black leather bund. Also as per all Black Bays (and Rolexes), the accuracy is excellent – +2/-2 seconds a day.

Best bit last. As you’ll have judged from the pictures, it’s available in both black-on-white and white-on-black variants. "Panda" and "reverse-panda".

Making both available simultaneously is another great shout – and a move that's 100 per cent Tudor.

£3,660 (fabric strap/ leather bund); £3,900 (steel bracelet); tudorwatch.com

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