About Damn Time
Hands-on with the Tudor Black Bay S&G collection
Last newsletter for a bit. I’m travelling the next couple weeks, getting a puppy, going to Windup Watch Fair here in Chicago, playing golf, etc. It’s a busy summer.
Going forward, I like the idea of doing the newsletter in “seasons” of say, 10-12 issues, with breaks in between. Of course, I’ll also continue to drop you a short note whenever I feel like I’ve got something interesting or different to say.
That’ll give me some time and space to create and then release a consistent stream of newsletters. (This can also make it easier to sell to advertisers, or as a short-term subscription to readers.)
In the meantime, I’ll also be on Instagram; in the past few weeks I’ve been using it more frequently to post random cool things I see (it’s paid off some, passing 10k, then 11k followers).
I also feel like it’s possible I’ve reached the natural limit on how big a part-time, single-person, watch-focused newsletter can grow, organically, at least. Which is completely fine. The whole *growth for growth’s sake* mindset is exhausting, if not damaging, and not something I need.
I’ve also got some watch trips on the calendar. I’ll be going to WatchTime in New York Oct. 21-23, and then maybe fall auctions.
Drop me an email or DM if you’re in Chicago for Windup or otherwise, and I’d love to grab a beer and try on your watch.
Elsewhere: Hitler’s JLC Reverso is for sale. According to the auction house, “The watch has an unwavering direct provenance from a French soldier who seized the watch as ‘spoils of war' on Friday May 4, 1945, when his unit became the first Allied force to arrive at Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden in the mountains of Bavaria.” It’s for sale at Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, which has posted a lengthy cataloging of the Reverso (estimate $2-4 million).
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Two cents on the two-tone Tudor S&G
When I saw Tudor’s new releases at Watches & Wonders earlier this year, one in particular stuck out to me. No, not the headlining tool watches like the Black Bay Pro or updated GMTs and chronographs. Instead, it was the simple, time-only Black Bay S&G line. Tudor overhauled the collection this year, most notably by adding its in-house calibers to the S&G. It turns what was once an afterthought in Tudor’s catalog into a shining two-tone star.
Let’s back up for a second. Tudor is perhaps the only modern brand I really relate to. I’ve owned three different Black Bay 58 variations (nowadays, the 925 Silver is a near daily for me), and I’ve also owned a couple other models from the Black Bay line.
Modern Tudor does this amazing trick of making you feel like you’re still buying a tool watch, even if its modern watches are full-on luxury products. I know people get bothered by things like fake rivets, but those have never bugged me.
The Black Bay 36 (and 31, 39, 41) has always felt like something of an unsung hero in Tudor’s lineup. Even with the introduction of the new 39mm Tudor Ranger, to me the Black Bay 36 is the best alternative to the Rolex Explorer — especially for vintage enthusiasts.
Tudor offers the Black Bay 31/36/39/41 S&G in a total of 33 variations, from simple and sport-like to diamond-set bezels and dials. It’s trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people, but it does them all well.
For me, the S&G line is a perfect example of Tudor doing what it does best: making you feel like you’re buying a tool watch, when in reality you’ve got yourself a real luxury watch.
Recently, I got hands-on with the new Black Bay S&G 31 (black dial) and S&G 36 (silver dial).
Back to Black (Bay)
The updated Tudor Black Bay S&G line swapped out ETA calibers for Tudor’s family of in-house calibers from Kenissi, ranging from the MT52 (in the 31mm model) to the MT54 (36mm) and the MT56 (39mm and 41mm). These manufacture calibers are automatic, COSC-certified movements, with the larger versions featuring 70 hours of power reserve (the smaller MT5201 has 50 hours). Tudor launched the Kenissi manufacturer in 2010, presenting its first caliber in 2015; now, it supplies movements to Tudor, as well as Chanel (which owns a partial stake in the company), Norqain, Breitling, and others.2
While the new movement might be the headline, it wasn’t the only update Tudor made to the S&G line. The new manufacture caliber means the case has also been slimmed down; the case profile also feels more curved and svelte. The result is a watch that wears — and looks — better on wrist.
A favorite detail of mine on the modern Black Bay cases is the beveled lugs, a call back to Tudor’s vintage tool watches. The S&G keeps this detail, maintaining a sporty vibe for what otherwise is a dressy proposition.
The watch comes on a five-link bracelet — don’t call it a “Jubilee”, we save such esteemed titles for Rolex — fitted with Tudor’s great new T-Fit clasp, which allows for on-the-go, tool-free micro-adjustments. It’s one of the best features Tudor has introduced in the last few years, and it’s exciting to see them continue to roll it out across the Tudor catalog.
My Two-Tone Cents
The obvious comparison to draw with any Tudor release is to its Rolex counterpart, and the Black Bay S&G is no different. The S&G 36 is the “affordable alternative” to the newish two-tone Rolex Explorer, which will set you back $11,150. The equivalent Tudor S&G is about $5,000, a worthy “value proposition.”
As I mentioned when that steel-and-gold Explorer came out, Rolex has a history of making two-tone sports watches (hell, the Deep Sea Special was steel and gold), so I don’t mind the two-tone-in-a-sports-watch vibe, even if it seems to be mostly associated with greed-is-good, Wall Street excess nowadays.
Still, I prefer the Black Bay S&G at a smaller size. I handled the 31mm (black dial in this article) and 36mm (silver dial), and was struck by how much I enjoyed wearing the 31mm version. I won’t go so far as to say I preferred it over the S&G 36, but the competition between the two was closer than I would’ve guessed prior to trying them on. The silver dial has a familiar sunburst effect, while the black dial is glossy, with gold accents and marker surrounds that make it feel almost gilt. It’s a warm, vintage feel for a classically-styled watch.
Of course, part of the appeal of the updated S&G is what it might mean for the rest of the Black Bay lineup. I hope that the updated movement is rolled out in the steel 31/36/39/41 in the next couple of years, and everything indicates that it will. Most new Tudor releases seem to feature COSC-certified in-house movements.
👉 Read on for the full review and specs of the new Black Bay S&G collection
THROUGH THE WIRE
🔨 Millennials on their very real fears about money (NY Times)
Featuring a 35-year-old watchmaker from Detroit, who offers his perspective:
“Most watchmakers earn between $60,000 and $70,000, and I make on the upper end. I’m in the process of trying to start my own business. I’ve spent essentially my life savings — whatever I haven’t spent on my house — on tools and equipment throughout the years. I’ve spent probably $70,000 to $80,000 on it all. I want to consolidate all my tools into one complete studio where I can make my own custom pieces. That’s my dream.
Sometimes I feel like I sacrificed having a family for the growth of my career. By the time he was my age, my dad had five kids and a wife. I can’t even imagine having all of those financial obligations. I constantly feel like I’m behind where I thought I would be. But starting a business, that’s going to put me in a situation where I don’t know if I’ll be financially stable. And if I had a family, how could I put them through that? Still, I want to have a family so bad. It’s definitely a goal.”
“Sales of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch have surged in the wake of a wildly successful collaboration with plastic timepiece pioneer Swatch that’s introduced the iconic chronograph to a wider public.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch model, which retails for about $7,000, increased sales in Omega stores by more than 50% since the launch of the $250 MoonSwatch in March, Swatch Group AG CEO Nick Hayek said in an interview.
Bloomberg estimates that 150,000 MoonSwatches have been sold since its launch.
When asked where he sees potential growth in auctions, the Sotheby’s CEO offers:
Our luxury categories are also up significantly, more than 30% higher than last year. Even though we’re associated with the best masterpieces, 80% of our bidding goes to win objects under $25,000. Our clients aren’t just looking for the best Van Gogh—they’re buying things across 70 different categories in the 500 sales we hold each year, at all price ranges.
From sneakers to handbags to jewelry to wine and certainly collectible cars, collectors are thinking differently about these categories as well. Years ago, you’d buy a nice watch and you’d have it for your whole life. Now, you might sell it in three years because there are different ways to do that without much time or cost friction.
🏜️ Record-breaking Cartier? Sotheby’s is bringing a Cartier Cheich to auction this fall. It’s an extremely rare model, with only four ever being produced. I did a short write-up about its history on IG.
🚴♂️ A designer created a clock-shaped installation to mark the Tour de France passing through the Valle de Joux, the historical home of Swiss watchmaking (Dezeen). 🦆 Rubber ducky watches that don't tell time clock in TikTok views (NPR).