Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79230: A Complete Guide of the In-house Black Bay
Tudor is a watch brand that splits opinions. But at the same time, it is also a watch brand that a lot of people have changed their perception of over time.
As you may know, Tudor is a sister company of Rolex, and originally, many people referred to Tudor as ”A poor man’s Rolex” simply because of the fact that they were made with Rolex parts, and equipped with non-in-house off-the-shelf movements which allowed the watches to become cheaper.
This label stuck with Tudor for a long time, but today, specifically with the brand’s relaunch, Tudor has slowly but surely moved away from that label, and shown everyone that Tudor means business and that it is a watch brand that is strong enough to stand on its own legs.
Since Tudor’s relaunch in 2012, Tudor has exploded on the market. They’ve changed people’s perception of the brand by not only relying on off-the-shelf movements but also coming up with their own in-house movements and new technical feats.
When Tudor first relaunched, they did so with the Pelagos and Black Bay models. The model that made the biggest impact and which became immensely popular was the Tudor Heritage Black Bay. It is a sporty diver’s watch that combines modern design elements with vintage aesthetic elements, paying tribute to the vintage ”big crown” dive watches from Tudor, which people today have come to love, and which fetch big numbers at auctions.
As such, it doesn’t come as a surprise that when Tudor first launched a ”re-edition” of a vintage watch that has such important historic importance, and that people have come to love, it would see huge success.
And for a watch that has historic importance, a vintage-inspired design, high quality, and the reputation and history that Tudor has, retailing around $3000 when first released on the market meant lots of bang for the buck.
But eventually, Tudor decided to update the Tudor Heritage Black Bay model (which originally had the reference 79220), and this updated Black Bay model is the model we’re going to focus on today. The updated version is the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79230.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Tudor would eventually decide to update such an immensely popular watch as the Black Bay. While the model was a huge success, people had one key complaint, and that was the movement.
The first Tudor Black Bay was equipped with an off-the-shelf ETA movement (ETA 2824), and while those have proven to be extremely reliable and durable, they don’t really impress the watch connoisseurs, who prefer to see in-house movements in the watches they buy. And since Tudor wants to show that it is a brand that is strong enough to stand on its own legs, and not lean on Rolex, you can expect that they would eventually start rolling out in-house movements. Not only is the new Black Bay but in other models as well.
During 2016 and 2017, Tudor “Manufacture” movements (in other words in-house movements) were introduced across all of Tudor’s sports watches. This includes the Black Bay.
Background to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79230
Tudor’s Black Bay model is built on the Tudor Submariner models from the 50s and sixties, and this is also the reason why the Black Bay model is called ”Heritage”, as it takes inspiration from, and pays tribute to the vintage Tudor Submariners.
Of course, you’ll see lots of similarities between vintage Tudor Rolex Submariners from the 50s and 60s and Rolex Submariners from the 50s and 60s and this is no coincidence. As mentioned, Tudor was founded by Rolex, and Tudor is now a sister company of Rolex, and as a result, Tudor and Rolex share history.
In fact, Tudor and Rolex watches were to a large extent the same watches in the beginning.
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf said this when founding Tudor:
”For some years now I have been considering the idea of making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches, and yet one that could attain the standards of dependability for which Rolex is famous, I decided to form a separate company, with the object of making and marketing this new watch. It is called the Tudor Watch Company.”
Tudor watches at the time were made with Rolex parts, but in order to make them cheaper, they were equipped with off-the-shelf movements. This is why, if you think that, in this case, vintage Tudor Submariners and vintage Rolex watches look very similar to each other.
The first Heritage Black Bay version was discontinued in 2016 and replaced by the newer version reference 79230. The new model is still very much a Black Bay, however, it does contain some key differences which I’ll go into detail about further on.
Now, let’s look at the elements of the Tudor Black Bay 79230 and compare them with the older version 79220.
The Tudor Black Bay 79230 has a few visual differences on the dial.
It has a matte black dial, in true vintage fashion, and depending on the model you buy, you get either white print or ”gilt print”, which adds another layer of vintage-inspiration elements. The gold that surrounds the markers refers to the gilt dials of the early Submariner references.
The dial is also slightly domed, making it feel much more alive, and contributing to adding depth and character to the dial. No matter which version of the 79230, the dial is always black.
The Black Bay 79230 has applied markers. For the Black version and the red version, these markers are made in 18K rose gold, but for the blue, the markers are not made in gold.
Furthermore, the color of the luminous material is made slightly cream-colored on the red and black versions, whereas the blue model has white luminous material. The gilt against the creamy indices looks quite good, and there’s probably a good reason why they didn’t use cream-colored luminous material on the blue version since it probably didn’t look as good.
Cream/off-white lume on watches is a ”controversial subject”. Some people absolutely love the vintage feel it gives the watch, but at the same time, other people think it is wrong since it’s not real patina, but just fake patina.
The indices layout on the dial is the same as the previous version. What’s interesting about this is that it has the exact same layout as several vintage Submariner watches from Tudor, and of course, vintage Rolex Submariners as well since Tudor and Rolex shared a lot back in the day.
This iconic dial layout inspired by Tudor’s vintage Submariner watches is the following: a long triangle at 12, rectangles at three, six, and nine, and large circles in between. Not only does this allow for great legibility, but it also makes for perfect proportions on the dial that makes it look extremely well-balanced.
A key difference between the new black bay and the vintage Submariners that it takes inspiration from is that the new model features applied indices and not painted.
The applied markers rather than painting removes a bit of the vintage feel, yes, however, many would argue that the applied markers make the watch look more luxurious and of higher quality. The applied markers also give the dial more depth.
Plus, I am sure we’ll see Tudor introducing watches with painted markers in the near future (mark my words).
But while the markers are applied, The Tudor Black Bay 79230 does, in fact, have some painted elements which contrast the applied markers.
Around the edge of the dial is a minute/seconds index of lines that are thicker at the hour/intervals of five and thinner in between. These lines are then connected with a circle that goes around the whole dial. On the Black and red versions, this is painted in a gilt color, but on the blue version, it is painted in white.
While the faux patina part can be debated, the combination of the off-white and the gilt is a perfect combination that looks stunning.
The key difference that you may notice between the previous 79220 and the newer 79230 is the print on the dial because this has changed in several places.
First off, the logo.
On the older model, the logo was the iconic Tudor rose, with the text Tudor at 12. But on the Black Bay 79230, there’s a new logo, the Tudor shield, however, it keeps the text “Tudor Geneve”.
Some people prefer the Tudor Rose logo due to its historic roots, however, the Tudor shield is now Tudor’s main logo, and therefore, it makes sense that they decided to change the logo.
Also, for those who really liked the Tudor rose, don’t worry. The Black Bay 79230 still has the rose on the crown of the watch.
The other difference in printing on the dial is the text found above 6 o’clock. It no longer features the ”smiley face” text which has become so iconic for the first Black Bay model, where the text ”Self-winding” was bent.
The Black Bay 79230 keeps the text 200m:660ft, but instead of the “rotor” and the smiling “self-winding” there are two lines of straight text reading “Chronometer Officially Certified.”. This can, of course, be debated, but it is a matter of taste.
The hands of the Black Bay 79230 are exactly the same as its predecessor. It has the signature, blocky Snowflake hands, inspired by the vintage Tudor reference 7021.
The hour hand has a very iconic and distinct diamond shape which offers great legibility, and the minute hand is shaped like a straight sword. The second hand has a square that has been rotated 45 degrees so that the edge of the square points toward the markers. The square is also lume filled. On the gilt dial Black Bays, the hands are in gold, but on the blue versions, they’re made in a silver color.
The lume of the Black Bay 79230 is really strong. Of course, since it is a dive watch, it requires great legibility both in and outside of the water, including in poor conditions, and here, good lume is crucial. So not only is the lume strong, but the large markers also help with legibility.
Now it’s time to discuss the heart of the Black Bay 79230 because this is also where the watch differs the most from the previous version.
The first Black Bay ref 79220 had an ETA movement, as mentioned, and while it is a good movement, it’s not really one that people go crazy about.
As a result, Tudor rolled out an in-house movement for the new Black Bay – the MT5602 in-house caliber.
The use of an in-house movement adds a greater value proposition to the watch, and this does not only go for the Black Bay, but Tudor is also slowly but surely rolling out in-house models for other versions as well. And doing so is great to see as it sends signals that Tudor means serious business.
It is the in-house movement in particular that makes consider it a watch that brings you great value for your money. Because when you think of a watch with in-house or manufacture calibers under $5,000, there really isn’t a lot to choose from.
Also, not only does Tudor have decades of expertise in watchmaking, but it also takes help from its bigger brother Rolex in developing movements that are reliable, durable, and high-quality.
Of course, the in-house movement is a great update from the ETA. The MT5602 is a 25-jewel automatic movement with a frequency of 28,800 BPH and features hacking and hand-winding. The in-house movement features a 70-hour power reserve, and this is quite a large jump from the previous 40. The new movement also features a silicon hairspring, a free-sprung balance, a full balance bridge, and a COSC chronometer rating.
70 hours of power reserve is quite a lot and means that you can leave the watch for quite some time. Also, the silicon hairspring that it uses is non-magnetic and lubricant-free.
This should, at least in theory, mean longer service intervals and greater reliability.
The new movement uses a free-sprung balance. In technical language, this means that it is regulated by adjusting micro-screws on the balance itself as opposed to being regulated through the use of a regulator system ( that adjusts the length of the hairspring)
The movement is COSC certified, so it’s a movement with great accuracy.
The in-house movement is somewhat similar to Rolex’s calibers for obvious reasons, but the Tudor is decorated in a slightly different way. The in-house Tudor movement looks quite robust but is still decorated in a beautiful way, with sandblasted bridges, beveled edges, and a skeletonized rotor. In other words, the decoration of the movement resembles the profile of a tool watch that Tudor is after.
The in-house movement is a great update from the previous model and definitely, both make the watch more interesting and justify the price increase of a few hundred dollars from the previous model. The in-house movement adds another value proposition, but there’s a catch with the introduction of this movement, and this is the watch’s height.
With the introduction of the new movement, the model increased in thickness due to the movement. While some people like thicker and larger watches, personally, this is really the only complaint that I have with the new 79230 model. The previous model has a completely flat case back which meant that it sat very slimmed and comfortable on the wrist, however, the 79230 has a case back which stands out quite a lot, which means that the watch sits taller on the wrist, and feels a bit bulky.
The movement is 6.5mm tall, and frankly, that’s quite a lot for a three-hand movement with no other complications. For comparison, the ETA movement previously used is 4.6mm.
The watch also becomes heavier due to the larger movement. Again, some people do like bulkier watches, however, in terms of how the watch wears, I personally prefer the ETA version simply because it isn’t as bulky and tall, and sits much more comfortably on the wrist. Really, Tudor should be able to make a thinner version of the movement used. As a matter of fact, they have made a much thinner movement for the Tudor Black Bay FIfty-Eight, so I see no reason why they wouldn’t be able to make a thinner movement for the Black Bay as well.
From Basel 2016, and onwards, all Black Bays except the new 36mm model was now equipped with Tudor’s in-house calibers.
From the previous 79230, the case has not changed. Except for the case back, of course. The case combines polished with brushed elements, where the top of the lugs are brushed, and the sides are polished. The case has a very good finishing, and there’s really not much to complain about here. The shape of the case stays true to the vintage ”big crown” Tudor Submariners just like the predecessor.
The watch is equipped with a crown tube to which the crown is screwed down, and the crown tube is colored the same color as the bezel.
The watch has a 22mm lug width, so it’s not the smallest watch, and with the new thicker case, it becomes a watch that is quite bulky.
The lugs have bevels in true vintage Tudor fashion, and really, I haven’t met anyone who dislikes the bevels. The bevels are a lovely detail that adds to the overall luxurious look and feel of the watch.
On the right side, there’s the oversized crown and crown tube. There’s no denying that the crown is big, but at the same time, with the vintage Tudor and Rolex big crowns having become so immensely popular, this is an element that most people enjoy.
The good thing about the crown tube and large crown is that it is extremely easily accessible. The crown measures 8 x 2.7mm, it’s wide and flat. On the outer edges, It features a coin edge for improved grip, and on the outer face, you have a Tudor rose logo engraved which pays tribute to Tudor’s roots. This is a particularly important element when Tudor abandoned the rose logo on the dial.
When screwed out, the crown feels high quality and is easy to operate. There’s really nothing to complain about here.
Now over to the bezel.
The Tudor Black Bay 79230 has exactly the same bezels as the previous 79220.
In other words, a blue, a burgundy red, and a matte black.
These bezels have more or less the exact same bezel design as some vintage Tudor watches, with a triangle at 0/60 and classic Submariner markings with minute indications for fifteen minutes, then markings on the bezel 25, 35, 45, and 55. For the minutes 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, the numbers are marked out instead of just indicators.
The bezel of the Black Bay features an aluminum insert and a thin coined edge.
The black model has a red triangle at 0/60 but the red and blue have white triangles. The red triangle pays tribute to some of to the oldest, rarest references.
The bezel features a 60-click uni-directional mechanism that is very smooth and easy to operate. Being a diver, the bezel is obviously unidirectional. When pushing the bezel down, it has some flex thanks to the springs it has. The bezel also “locks” when it is at 12 o’clock so that it is easier to find the ”start” mode. In some cases, the bezel can be a tad tricky to operate since the bezel is just as wide as the diameter of the case, and does not stand out from the case, but of course, this is a matter of consideration of looks vs usability.
Bracelet and Straps
The biggest change with the bracelet of the 79230 is the steel bracelet.
The bracelet is essentially the same as on the 79220, however, it has a huge design difference, and that is the fact that it is now equipped with rivets.
The rivets of the Black Bay bracelet have been debated widely, and from my understanding, people either love it or they hate it.
Now, it makes sense to introduce rivets to the bracelet of the Black Bay, considering the fact that it is a heritage model that pays tribute to the vintage Tudor dive watches, and most of them had rivets at that time.
The rivets do add a vintage look to the watch, and personally, I think the watch gets a more vintage appearance. However, in the beginning, I was a bit skeptical of them until I tried one on.
Now, I do understand where people who dislike the rivets are coming from because as a matter of fact, the rivets on the bracelet of the Black Bay 79230 are ”faux rivets”.
The concept of rivets is that the links are held together with side plates that were riveted on.
The bracelet starts at 22mm and has a solid end link. The bracelet then steps down about a millimeter at a time to 18mm at the clasp. If you’re familiar with the Black Bay 79220, the rest of the bracelet won’t be anything new. In fact, it is the same bracelet with a matte/brushed finish, a folding clasp shaped like the Tudor shield, and a safety catch holding the clasp in place.
The bracelet is similar to a Rolex bracelet, and this doesn’t come as a surprise either since Tudor and Rolex used the same bracelets for vintage watches. The bracelet of the 79230 is comfortable and very robust. Unlike the 79220 model, the 79230 doesn’t come with a complimentary Tudor fabric strap anymore. So if you want the fabric strap, you have to purchase it. This is a bit disappointing actually, especially when they’ve increased the price.
What’s also new is that you are now able to buy the Black Bay only on the fabric strap. This is obviously the cheapest alternative.
These are the different strap alternatives for the respective models:
The leather strap is an aged leather strap that has a steel buckle that has the shape of a shield. The leather strap is really comfortable and there’s not really anything to complain about. Because the location of the spring bar holes is far from the case, it creates holes between the strap and the case, which looks quite good actually as it makes the case more defined.
Each color has a unique reference:
- Black model: 79220N (N as in noir)
- Red model: 79220R (R as in rouge, or red)
- Blue model: 79220B (B as in bleu, or blue)
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay is undoubtedly a great watch!
It is built on the iconic shapes of the Submariner watches and combines vintage elements with modern design features.
The Black Bay 79230 offers great value for the money and is, despite being a dive watch, a watch that works extremely well for all kinds of occasions.
While the new model is thicker than the predecessor, it does offer an in-house movement which is a huge improvement from the ETA.