Why the Tudor Black Bay ETA 79220 is a Collector’s Piece
What makes a watch a ”classic”?
What makes a watch ”collectible”?
The answer to these questions is rather complex. And we’ll go more into detail about why further on.
When it comes to the watch industry, there is, in many cases, no real logic behind what becomes sought-after and collectible.
There are so many different factors that come into play. But when talking about the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79220 watches, the future collectibility and iconic status of this watch is 100% rational. And we’ll explain why in this article.
At the end of the day, the market is always run by the simple concept of supply and demand. When the demand for something increases, the prices follow soon after. But for some watches, establishing a status of being a ”classic” and collectible may come completely out of the blue and unexpected, whilst others slowly but surely become classics over time.
So what is it that makes some watches collectible and ”classic”, whilst others simply never become such, and instead tend to be forgotten?
Tudor Heritage Black Bay ETA 79220 – The future classic
We have been following the Tudor brand closely ever since it was slowly but surely relaunched in 2009, but more actively in the years that follow.
The big breakthrough for Tudor actually came in 2012 when the brand released its Heritage Black Bay collection. Later, it would come to show that this model would be the one that would put Tudor back on the map after a long absence from many markers. It would take Tudor from being a brand that felt like it had almost been dormant for several decades, to becoming a brand that has a cult following of enthusiasts and that the watch world follows closely.
In hindsight, it’s extremely evident how important of a role the Tudor 79220 has come to play for Tudor, in particular, if you look at the current offering from the brand. In fact, more or less all of the watches that are discussed the most across the web, and which are the most popular today, are based on the Heritage Black Bay collection. – Think Black Bay Chronograph, Black Bay Fifty-Eight, and Black Bay 41/36 just to mention a few.
The Heritage Black Bay collection proved to become immensely popular, and what do you do with a winning concept? You avoid changing it too much, and you continue building on that success, of course. And that is exactly what Tudor has done. And they have done it very well. Today, Tudor has become a brand to pay attention to and a brand that is followed closely by enthusiasts and the media, simply because there is a huge interest in the brand’s products. But as mentioned, that hasn’t always been the case.
It’s no secret that Tudor is the sister brand of Rolex, and is owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation (which is also owned by Rolex). Tudor was registered in 1926 with the idea of the founder Hans Wilsdorf to create a watch brand that offered the same quality and reliability but at a more affordable price.
”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 would attain the standards of dependability for which Rolex are famous.” – Hans Wilsdorf
Originally, Tudor watches were built with off-the-shelf Rolex parts, but fitted with ETA movements in order to reduce their cost. This is why, on vintage Tudor watches, you can see Rolex markings and logo, for example on the crown and bracelet. The image that Tudor established as a result of this, however – at least in some people’s eyes – was that it was a ”poor man’s Rolex”. The watch that people who couldn’t afford a Rolex bought, seeing they were extremely similar in design.
This was a reputation and image that Tudor would come to have for many decades to follow… Until the brand relaunched., when things would come to completely change for the brand.
The beginning of all of this is of course the first Black Bay – The Heritage Black Bay reference 79220 that Tudor released in 2012.
Of course, This didn’t happen overnight, of course, but the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79220 would prove to be the beginning of a new era. A new, strong, well-respected, and powerful market position for Tudor.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay ETA 79220 – The start of a new era.
Tudor released the Heritage Black Bay ETA in 2012, and first introduced two colors – blue and red. The watch proved to be an instant success. This really doesn’t come as a surprise, since already at this point, it’s evident that Tudor had understood the importance of not changing a winning concept.
And this time around, it related to its vintage dive watches from the 1950s and 1960s.
The beginning of this new era was that Tudor slowly but surely started to prove that it was strong enough to stand on its own legs. Earlier in its history, Tudor had always leaned on Rolex in terms of designs and therefore had a hard time differentiating itself from Rolex. And with that said, using that strategy, it would never be able to get rid of the ”poor man’s Rolex” reputation that it had acquired. The first start of this for Tudor was to create a model that would be iconic and instantly recognized as a Tudor. The brand needed a design of its own and something that was so closely associated with the brand that it simply couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. And Tudor took the first step to doing just that by releasing the Heritage Black Bay 79220.
Whilst the 79220 is based on Tudor’s vintage dive watches (which are obviously based on Rolex’s vintage dive watches as well since they used the same parts at that time), the 79220 was different enough, and had a distinct enough design to set it apart as something new and unique, whilst at the same time, having the much-loved and appreciated design DNA of vintage Tudor and Rolex dive watches. We would consider this the best of both worlds.
As the ”Heritage” in the name reveals, it is based on Tudor’s heritage. With the 79220, Tudor finally had its first distinct watch.
Yes, Tudor had released a number of watches prior to this which also had a unique and distinct design, such as the Hydronaut, Hydro diver, etc, but these never managed to successfully establish popularity and wide appreciation. And with that said, they weren’t able to leave a big impression and thus had little impact on Tudor’s reputation.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay strikes a perfect balance between modern build quality and design, with vintage design elements. It is a nod to Tudor’s history (and thus indirectly also Rolex).
We’re not going to go into detail about all the specifications of the 79220 in this article, as we have already gone in-depth about it here, but with all of this background, we have a better understanding of the background Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79220 ETA.
The Heritage Black Bay 79220 ETA has already established itself as a modern classic, but it’s hard to believe that it has soon been a decade since it was first presented. A lot of things have changed, and today, it is safe to say that Tudor is back on the map and strong enough to stand on its own legs, as waiting lists from official retailers on watches such as the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 79030N, Black Bay Fifty-Eight 79030B, and Black Bay GMT 79830RB has been a fact.
The 79220 would eventually come to become discontinued 4 years after it was first introduced, in 2016, and ever since, its popularity has only continued to grow. Why is that so? And why is it projected to become a future collector’s piece?
Significance & historical importance
To start, one important explanation is the immense historical importance of this watch. Bear in mind that history is an important part of the reason why some watches become collectible and others not, and the 79220 lacks none of it.
The Heritage Black Bay 79220 is THE watch that officially put Tudor back on the map, and therefore, we can without any hesitation say it is the single most important model for Tudor. In addition, as mentioned, this original would eventually come to lay the foundation for many more models to follow, which are all based on the Black Bay platform.
And when it comes to watch collecting and appreciation from enthusiasts, there is nothing as special as ”the original”. As more and more people discover the Tudor brand and find appreciation, then naturally, more people will discover the 79220, and potentially also discover the charm and historical importance of this timepiece too.
Discontinued & Limited production numbers
Another factor that affects potential future collectability is production numbers, and whether or not a watch is in production.
The 79220 was released in 2012 and discontinued in 2016. This means a production period of 4 years. This is still a relatively long period, and therefore, Tudor has produced quite a few examples of the 79220. Whilst it is not a limited edition, the production numbers will always be limited.
But this brings us to the 79220N – the black version. This model was officially presented by Tudor on October 14th, 2015 but it was not available from official Tudor retailers until 2016.
What makes this watch so special (and very interesting) is that during Baselworld 2016, March 17th, only five months later, the model was discontinued. And with a production period of only about 5 months, extremely few pieces have been made of the 79220N, compared to the 79220B and 79220R. And as mentioned at the beginning, the principle of supply and demand is highly relevant here.
A production period of 5 months compared to 4 years is a big difference, and therefore, we can expect the 79220N in particular to be the watch that becomes particularly collectible. And as a matter of fact, this can already be seen on the secondhand market as the 79220N is substantially more expensive than the other two colors as the supply is extremely limited whilst the demand is actually quite high (and is growing every year for all of the reasons discussed in this article).
As more and more people realize the historical importance of the 79220, the demand for this model will increase. But at the same time, Tudor has not produced more of them since 2016. Therefore, the prices of them will increase too.
We are not saying that the Heritage Black Bay 79220 is produced in low numbers, but as long as the available number of pieces doesn’t increase (which it doesn’t), and the demand increases, the prices will become higher and higher.
Design and appeal
Most importantly, a watch will never become iconic and appreciated if it doesn’t have an appealing design. Those watches that have a design that doesn’t appeal to a wide audience will never be able to become collectible simply because they do not have the demand that is required for them to be sought-after collector’s pieces.
Yes, watches that are not popular from start can over time grow in popularity, but this is more of a rare occurrence. Examples of this include the Rolex Submariner ”Kermit”, Rolex Daytona (and initially Cosmograph), and the Submariner 116610LV ”Hulk”, to mention a few. These watches were not immensely popular or well-received when they were first released, but over time, their popularity has grown immensely, and therefore, the prices on the secondhand market have skyrocketed too.
At the same time, the Heritage Black Bay 79220 proved to be immensely popular already from start, and therefore, its success was an instant fact.
The 79220 has all of the details that people have shown to love in a dive watch. It combines a lot of vintage-inspired design traits from the vintage dive watches from Tudor made in the 50s and 60s (which has also skyrocketed in price too, by the way). This includes things like the big-crown case without crown guards, aluminum bezel, matte black dial, gilt printing (on the black and red versions), “smiley” dial print” snowflake hands, rose logo, and so on…
Having said that, since it was first launched in 2012, its popularity has only increased, partly in parallel with the growth of the Tudor brand. Especially as the Black Bay collection has grown, and more people have discovered the appeal of the Black Bays.
It’s not always that it is easy to predict a future collector’s piece, but with all of the above-mentioned things in mind, it’s evident why the Tudor Heritage Black Bay ETA 79220 will become a future collector’s piece. It ticks all of the boxes of what makes a watch popular, both in terms of quality and finish, but also in background and historical importance. The prices for the 79220 has already slowly but surely increased in recent years, and it doesn’t look like it is stopping anytime soon. Especially with the fact that there will never be any more pieces than those that were produced up until 2016 in mind.