After a week of cryptic teasers with the message ‘just one more thing’ Tudor replica has revealed the Black Bay Ceramic. Once again, the speculation missed the mark by a wide margin, as the Steve Jobs-ian tagline (and recent Marine Nationale news) may have set expectations running a bit wild. Nevertheless, Tudor’s return to the regular Black Bay range does come with an interesting bit of news, and that is the now METAS certified master chronometer build of their manufacture caliber MT5602.
If you’re thinking this watch sounds a bit familiar, you’re not wrong. Tudor made an all-black ceramic Black Bay for Only Watch 2019, as well as a regular production Black Bay Dark featuring a black PVD case back in 2016, so this is a look and material with some precedent, even if it is divisive among enthusiasts.
The newest cheap fake Tudor Black Bay in ceramic looks similar to the Only Watch creation, with a fully black bezel that lacks even a lume pip. The black dial gets a bit of contrast here, however, with what appears to be off-white colored lume filling the hour markers and hands. The branding and minute track are rendered in grey across the dial, and for the first time ever, include the name “Black Bay” at 6 o’clock above the “Master Chronometer” label.
The black ceramic mid case gets the micro-blasted matte finish, while the bezel assembly is PVD 316L steel with brushed ceramic insert. The measurements are the same as you’d find other Black Bay 41 models, at 41mm in diameter, 14.4mm thick, and about 50mm from lug to lug. If the OG Black Bay was a bit large on your wrist, you won’t find solace here. Let us take a moment to be grateful for the Black Bay 58.
By far the most interesting news associated with this release is the new variant of the MT5602 caliber, the MT5602-1U. Not only does it get a slick bit of decoration making for a better view around back, it gets master chronometer certification via METAS. No, METAS isn’t just an Omega thing. Once a movement has met C.O.S.C. standards, it may also undergo master chronometer testing, which is a whole ‘nother ball game.
To gain master chronometer certification a movement must remain within a 5 second range of variation each day, and it must guarantee that accuracy while subjected to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss. The movement is tested at two different temperatures, in six different positions, and at two levels of reserve: 100% and 33%. This is a legit achievement for the MT5602 and clues us into where they are heading with this movement. While I’ve all but given up on guessing what high-end copy Tudor will release next, there’s a good chance we’ll see more use of the master chronometer given the fact that Tudor now has a dedicated lab for METAS testing and certification in their manufacturer.
Along with the performance upgrades, the MT5602-1U gets some visual improvements, as well. As exhibition casebacks seem to be the norm with Tudor these days, that’s a good thing. The bridges are matte black with laser etched details and the black tungsten oscillating weight has enough open spaces to view the action underneath. A full balance bridge supports the variable inertia balance with silicone hairspring beating away inside. Tudor lists additional “secret components” inside, so we’ll have to wait for a watchmaker’s perspective on further improvements. I am firmly in the camp that prefers closed casebacks on my tool watches but this is a pretty cool execution that has me re-thinking that position.
All told, this is a lot of watch for $4,725. Sure, it’s not what any of us were expecting, but the MT5602-1U is an exciting new step for the brand that will hopefully open new doors for future releases. The black ceramic case feels a bit on the fashion/luxury side of the line, which seems to be a direction luxury copy Tudor wants to take, especially in light of the pair of precious metal 58 models just released, and their move to open casebacks. Until we see otherwise, this seems to be something of a transitionary period for Tudor. Whether that’s for better or worse remains to be seen, but I’m still holding out hope for the Marine Nationale partnership.