A life at sea: The history of the Tudor Black Bay collection

Tudor Black Bay P01

You could almost pinpoint the moment Tudor propelled itself out of the shadow of its more dominant sibling at the House of Wilsdorf – and it’s without a doubt the launch of the Tudor Black Bay.

Tudor continues to thrive because of the successful way the brand has reimagined watches from its archive, especially in reaching into its rich naval heritage to create watches that collectors crave.

Today, Tudor’s collection comprises models that celebrate the brand’s memorable heritage as a supplier of diver’s watches to some of the world’s largest navies.

The French Navy’s relationship with Tudor dates back to the 1950s

Tudor’s dive watches

For vintage watch enthusiasts, blue Tudor diver’s watches will always be linked with the French navy. Tudor has delivered dive watches with a blue dial to the Marine Nationale since the mid-1970s, distinguished by the inscription “M.N.” on the caseback.

The Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” alludes to this period, adopting both the matte navy blue of the dial and bezel, as well as the 39mm proportions of that generation of watches.

The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue

Tudor Black Bay P01

Another model worth examining is the Black Bay P01, which emerged from an intriguing 1967 prototype connected to the US Navy. Tudor launched the Commando Project to develop a technical model to replace the Oyster Prince it was then supplying to the US Navy. The Black Bay P01 is directly inspired by the resulting prototype, which was preserved in Tudor’s archives.

What’s interesting about this model is that it featured a bezel-locking mechanism that assured that the bezel wouldn’t be knocked out of place during use. It’s an unusual watch and though it never made it to production, it’s a watch that remains extremely close to Tudor’s heart.

See also: Jay Chou unveils new Tudor Royal watch

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