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Watch review: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’

Words by Rob Chilton

We take the award-winning dive watch for a spin

If you’re used to wearing watches of 42 and 43mm as is common for men, slipping a 39mm piece onto your wrist may come as a bit of a surprise. Like shaving off a beard, perhaps, or sitting in a new desk chair, the newness is a novelty and can take a bit of getting used to.

I’ve been a 43mm watch wearer for several years. While my wrists aren’t in the Rafa Nadal neighbourhood, they’re on the sturdy side and therefore - to me - a larger watch with its greater diameter and weight just looks and feels right. It’s all to do with proportion.

Satisfying clicks from the blue bezel

So when it came to putting on Tudor’s award-winning Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’ (it won the Challenge prize at this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in November) the first thing that leapt out at me was the size. This 39mm diving watch feels chunky with a thickness of 11.9mm but the diameter was my dominant observation. After wearing it for a week, and enjoying its look enormously, the smaller size was a factor I couldn’t shake out of my head.

But that’s not a criticism. Of course, the Black Bay’s size is not a fault of the watch, it’s a matter of preference. The same goes for its blue face. Some men may prefer classic black, but personally, I adore a blue dial. Sporty yet smart, fun yet elegant, young yet sophisticated – blue is such a great colour for a watch face, especially when the markers are bright white.

Tudor kitted out the French Navy in the 1970s

The Black Bay Fifty-Eight ‘Navy Blue’ has a combination of spots and quarter-hour markers with the snowflake hour hand a standout feature. Tudor first brought out a blue dive watch in 1969 and the colour became known as Tudor Blue. The French Navy adopted the timepiece during the 1970s and the watch is strongly evocative of the ocean, especially if worn with a blue fabric strap that feels like it’s been ripped from a yacht’s sailcloth.

On the left, the Oyster Prince Submariner, a 1950s predecessor to today's model

Water-resistant to 200 metres, this chronometer with its stainless steel case has a 70-hour power reserve and is hugely masculine. The bezel (in a slightly darker blue than the dial which is a nice design touch) has easy-to-grip teeth that give a satisfying chorus of clicks when rotated.

The watch has a strong maritime theme

The watch’s name refers to 1958, the year of its ancestor’s birth when Tudor first released a dive watch – the Big Crown – that was waterproof to 200 metres. Pleasingly, that 1950s vintage look is still present today. Priced at AED 14,000 for the steel bracelet watch and AED 12,800 for either of the two fabric strap models, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is a handsome watch with interesting history at an attractive price. Small it may be, but then again, size is not important.

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