In straitened times, one nagging variable that has become an increasingly important part of value is price. And indeed, there appears to be a rising tide of affordable horological creations this year. Not only does the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36 demonstrate that forensic attention to detail in design can be achieved and appreciated at an entry-level price point, but it also happens to be one of the most well-executed three-handers we’ve seen in a long while.
Tudor’s move to present its Heritage Black Bay in 36mm is a bold one. While 36mm certainly isn’t a foreign size to the company, since some of the greatest watches from Rolex share the same dimensions, what Tudor has done here is to propose a perfectly proportioned sports watch for the slender wrist, or for anyone in favor of a more classic size. The Black Bay 36 carries all the important elements of its forebear: the large Black Bay crown with the exposed PVD crown-tube cover and a snowflake hour hand inspired by the brand’s 1970s diving watches. Without the bi-directional rotating bezel, the beauty of its symmetrical black polished dial is almost inescapable and makes the watch a compelling alternative to the Rolex Explorer ref. 14270, especially for those seeking an aesthetic that has spanned the ages but is realized in the now.
Equally impressive is its versatility. It resists all our attempts at categorization by spectacularly blurring the lines between a sports and dress watch. It boasts adequate water-resistance to a depth of 150m and its tidy, uncontrived looks allows it to fit in a wider array of lifestyles and milieus. It retains the modified ETA 2824 movement previously used in the 41mm Black Bays and is yours at CHF2,700 on a steel bracelet or CHF2,400 on a leather strap. Both even come with an additional camouflage strap that, in our opinion, represents all it means to wear a Tudor. It lends a charming improvisational touch to its appeal — something any cool kid worth his salt would have replicated if it hadn’t been made by the brand. To us, this Black Bay number is a clear winner not simply because of its price, but also for striking all the right chords regardless of it.