Tudor has stepped out with some truly innovative and desirable timepieces in recent years. Its Pelagos divers are among the best in the world, and the Black Bay product line is going strong. A somewhat recent release in that group, the Black Bay GMT, is worth a closer look a few years after its initial release.
The watch feels premium in every way, is priced reasonably on the used market, and manages to be flexible enough to wear in a formal setting or on the beach. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a dainty watch. Where the legendary Rolex GMT-Master II is slim – somewhere around 12 mm thick – the Tudor Black Bay GMT is hefty, at almost 15 mm. That different may seem small, and to the naked eye it is, but in solid stainless steel that extra metal really adds heft. The Tudor is still comfortable and wearable in almost any situation, but it’s got the size and weight to stand on its own as a true sports watch.
The case itself is gorgeous, with strong lines and intricate polishing on the shoulders. Despite its size, the GMT’s case still feels understated and utilitarian. The brushed shoulders and polished sides keep the overall level of flashiness reasonable, though the watch does have its moments in the sun. The chunky crown looks great, and adds a real level of convenience to the watch.
The bezel, and there’s no other way to say this, is stunning. It’s more subdued than a Rolex GMT’s ceramic, and because of its coin edge, the whole package feels more compact and refined than others in the Tudor’s price category. The numbers, though painted and not luminous, remain easy to read and use in nearly all lighting conditions.
Tudor has been criticized at times for overplaying the retro snowflake look on its watch dials. The GMT doesn’t shy away from the style, and features three snowflake-shaped hands for hours, seconds, and the second time zone. The watch could easily become a mess, but Tudor walked the line almost perfectly to achieve a cohesive and handsome style. The addition of a small date window at three o’clock adds extra usability to the watch without being distracting.
The Black Bay GMT’s movement is where the rubber meets the road for this watch. It features a local jumping hour function, which allows the wearer to quickly change the main time zone to match local time. The hour hand can “jump” forward or backward through time, and if it crosses midnight on the dial, the date follows it.
Tudor’s MT5652 movement offers a strong 70-hour power reserve and a COSC certification. The value of this movement can’t be overstated. It offers the same functionality of a big-dollar Rolex GMT-Master II at a fraction of the current market prices. It’s also superbly accurate over a period of time, making it a great travel companion, where having the correct time is vital.
The Black Bay GMT’s bracelet is equally as impressive as the watch itself, but it’s important to note that it does add to the watch’s considerable weight. Tudor added a vintage rivet style to the sides of the bracelet that brings a visual appeal, but it’s hard not to think that the package would be more attractive without them. The extra detail isn’t something that’s required here for the watch to look great, but they don’t ruin the overall aesthetic.
This is one watch review where I can say that I’ve actually ponied up to buy the timepiece I’m writing about. I own the Black Bay GMT, and while I’ve since “upgraded” to a Rolex, it still finds time on the wrist every week. I can’t say enough how much I feel that Tudor knocked it out of the park with value and quality here, and I think the GMT is a great “only watch” for almost anyone.