The Tudor Black Bay Dark (reference 79230DK) is a piece that stands out in Tudor’s popular Heritage Black Bay lineup, as it takes traditional Black Bay dimensions and design and puts it into a PVD-coated case. It’s undoubtedly a nice watch with very classical styling and not much in the way of quirks or interesting features; the watch from Rolex’s little sister has a timeless design with many elements derived from the parent brand’s quintessential diver. However, it also adds some iconic Tudor touches – namely the snowflake hands famously found in certain Tudor Submariner models. In this review, I’ll give a quick rundown of the specs and highlights of the watch and follow with a summary of my ownership experience.
- Model: Tudor Black Bay Dark, reference 79230DK
- Release year: 2016
- $4150 on fabric or leather strap
- $4475 on bracelet
- Case: closed back, PVD-coated stainless steel
- Crystal: domed sapphire
- Bezel: 60-click unidirectional
- Movement: in-house MT5602 with 70-hour power reserve
- Water resistance: 200 meters/660 feet
- Width: 42mm
- Lug-width: 22mm
- Lug-to-lug: 50mm
- Thickness: 14mm
Highlights and ownership experience
The watch’s build quality is excellent – nothing less than you would expect from a modern watch made by Rolex. It feels very solid and the winding and bezel action are both very nice and smooth. One thing to note is that the bezel is 60-click, not 120-click. This may be a turn-off to some, but as I mentioned in my Glycine Combat Sub review (also a PVD-coated dive watch with 60-click bezel), I think I prefer it since every click lines up exactly with a minute marker on the chapter ring. The highly domed sapphire crystal was probably the biggest thing that threw me off about the watch aesthetically – I never really noticed it in photos but it actually creates some interesting depth and distortion around the edge of the dial. The traditional Tudor rose logo etched into the crown is also a nice touch. The lume is also excellent, as you can see in the photo below.
The watch looked and felt great on paper and in my hands. However, I felt like I never really clicked with the piece after I put it on my wrist. I think this was mostly due to its chunkiness – while the dimensions are not much bigger than the my preferred 38-40mm case size, the damage was compounded by the thick lugs and case, overall making it difficult for me to wear this piece comfortably. It also didn’t help that I purchased it on the one-piece fabric strap, adding even more to the thickness. While some will definitely appreciate the wrist presence, especially on wrists bigger than my 6.5″ (16.5 cm) one, I tend to generally prefer watches that are more compact and comfortable.
There’s also a major downside to PVD-coating – namely that it’s coating, so any scratches that remove it will reveal the stainless steel underneath. This means that a PVD coated watch ages less gracefully than its all-stainless counterpart, something to consider if you intend on being rough with this piece and/or owning it for a long time. Of course this is not an issue that is exclusive to the Black Bay Dark, and you can get any other Black Bay to avoid this issue entirely.
Looking back, this is an example of a great watch that just didn’t quite feel right on my wrist. While there’s really nothing to criticize from a technical or design standpoint, the feel is just as important as the form or function for something that’s strapped to your body for long periods of time. Fortunately, I purchased this watch pre-owned and re-sold it for about the same price, so I’m glad I was able to experience the watch, learn a few things, and share my thoughts in this review at very little cost.