Simple but effective: if anyone thought that Tudor was running out of ideas for its hugely successful Black Bay, think again. Taking a lead from sister brand Rolex’s design language, which has on occasion fitted its tool watches with engraved bezels in natural steel, Tudor has followed its alliterative colour run of blue, burgundy, black and bronze versions with this neutral alternative.

Steel bezels with engraved scales or graduations have graced many of the coolest watches of all time, most notable among them being certain Rolex Daytonas and the Explorer II, the earliest Omega Speedmaster, Breitling Chronomats and many others. Usually, though, they’re fixed in place and etched with tachymeter graduations, and far less common on diving watches.

This time, the steel bezel’s markings form a 60-minute, diver-friendly scale with minute-indications for the quarter-hour, and the bezel is a unidirectional, rotating type – therefore far less common and all the more intriguing for it. It also bestows upon the watch a period feel, but then the Black Bay has always been about retro.

If the makeover recalls anything for this enthusiast, it’s certain versions of the super-rare, screamingly-expensive Rolex Zerograph and Centregraph chronographs from the 1930s, and this may be the closest one gets to that look for one per cent of the value. Even though the Black Bay is not a chronograph, the look is similar, as the Zerograph and Centregraph did not have sub-dials. Yummy.

A mere change of bezel is enough to transform completely the attitude of the watch, even though the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel ref. 79730 shares everything else with its more dramatic siblings: steel case (41mm this time) with polished and satin finishes, COSC-certified manufacture Calibre MT5612 self-winding movement with bidirectional rotor system, a power reserve of approximately 70 hours and water resistance to 200m. As with the other Black Bays, it is offered with steel bracelet or aged leather strap with folding clasp and safety catch, and each watch is supplied with an additional fabric strap.

But this is all about the new look, and it’s a transformation that elevates the overall stance of the Black Bay as a no-nonsense tool watch. The unidirectional rotating bezel in steel with 60-minute graduations, the red triangle at the start point and black engraved markings form a makeover that accomplishes two other things.

First, thanks to the steel bezel increasing the seriousness of the watch, it changes the appeal of the Black Bay by making it more discreet. So popular is the Black Bay that it was in danger of becoming commonplace, and any cluster of watch journalists will turn up a bunch wearing them (a rare instance in which they’ve actually paid for something). Second? It completely eliminates any worries about clashing colours for fashion types who worry about such matters.

For fans of the brand, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel just may be the best-looking Black Bay yet. For the indecisive? Unfortunately, it’s just increased and confounded your choices by 25 per cent.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel

Manufacture Calibre MT5612 (COSC) self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system.

41mm stainless steel with polished and satin finish; unidirectional rotating bezel in steel with 60-minute graduated steel disc and black engraved markings; water-resistant to 200m.

Steel bracelet or aged leather strap with folding clasp and safety catch; additional fabric strap with buckle included.

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