It’s been five years since Swiss made fake Tudor launched their perfect replica Black Bay Bronze model in an attempt to diversify the popular Black Bay family into new materials and sizes. Measuring in at 43mm, it represented a notable size up from the standard 41mm Black Bay (these were pre-58 times), and featured a case constructed of bronze with a brown explorer dial. A year later, in collaboration with the retailer Bucherer, Tudor released the Black Bay Bronze Blue, which replaced the brown dial and bezel with deep blue units, bringing a welcome level of contrast to the watch. Sadly, it was only available in Bucherer retail locations, of which there are none in the US.
That changes this year as Tudor and Bucherer are bringing the watch to the US exclusively through Tourneau. The watch itself remains the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, this is a lot of watch. Literally. If you need or just plain like larger watches this one should be on your radar. It places the classic design language of the Black Bay into a far more substantial package, and even comes with details you won’t find anywhere else in the Black Bay family.
The BB Bronze uses a case made of …bronze, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Bronze is an alloy typically consisting of brass and tin, and is known to age in peculiar ways when used in watch cases. 1:1 best copy Tudor is using an aluminum bronze mix, which they claim will develop a more subtle patina over time depending on your habits. When new, the case is bright, almost gold in appearance, and through oxidation it will gradually darken in time. You can see this process in Jack Forster’s take right here over at Hodinkee.
The blue of the dial and bezel insert is slightly desaturated, not entirely dissimilar to what appears on the Black Bay 58 Blue, though it appears darker and warmer here (to my eye). The color contrasts beautifully with the bronze case and gilt dial accents, and offers a unique character separate from the brown and slate colorways that also exist within the Bronze family. What sets this dial apart from other Black Bay models is the explorer dial, meaning Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. This is a feature we’d love to see make its way into the 58, serving as a nod to the same configuration found on some vintage Submariner references during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.
The Bronze wears well for its size, but if you’re accustomed to watches in the 40mm realm, this will feel big. Everything is well proportioned to scale up with the case, so it retains the familiar Black Bay vibe with ease. The case measures 43mm in diameter and 14mm in thickness, with a lug to lug measurement of 52.5mm.
Tudor is using their own MT5601 caliber here, which brings COSC certified accuracy and 70 hours of reserve to the Bronze. It also packs a silicone balance spring for a level of anti-magnetism. This movement has some years under its belt at this point and reliability hasn’t been an issue as of yet. It’s use helps justify the $4,150 price tag which, coupled with the trick case, feels reasonable here from a brand like Tudor.
The Bronze Blue is offered on a blue woven jacquard strap with a beige stripe down its center. It does not thread freely between the case and spring bars, rather, the strap is fitted with slots for the spring bars. This keeps things secure, but it means you won’t be swapping out straps as easily as you may like. Still, the lugs are drilled so it’s not too big an issue.