For this year’s charity auction, Tudor has created a real stir with this all-black matt ceramic version of the Black Bay. The one-off watch will be auctioned on November 9th by Christie’s as part of Only Watch 2019.
This is the first time any Tudor watch has been cased in ceramic since the oft-overlooked Fastrider Black Shield; the Black Bay Ceramic One, as it is titled, has a matt black ceramic case with titanium bezel (and ceramic bezel insert). The caseback is PVD-coated steel, and here’s another massive surprise: it’s the first Tudor to boast a sapphire display caseback, showing the in-house MT5602 calibre, which has been given a black rotor to match the rest of the watch.
The dial is black-on-black-on-black, with gloss hour markers contrasting with the matt background. The hands and hour markers use black SuperLuminova with a green glow. The watch is offered on a black alligator and rubber hybrid strap with PVD-coated steel clasp. The watch measures 41mm across and is water-resistant to 200m, like the standard Black Bay.
Held in aid of funding research into Duchesne muscular dystrophy, Only Watch is seen by many manufacturers as a chance to both push the envelope in terms of design and tease future mainstream products. Tudor could well be doing both here; certainly it has created something that pushes the boundaries of a typically conservative brand.
What will be interesting to watch geeks such as ourselves, especially given Tudor’s relationship to Rolex, is the extent to which the finished result looks – from the pictures at least – not unlike the work of the many after-market Rolex customiser brands (although of course working in ceramic is a different league from after-market coatings). There’s a Bamford-esque nature to this that Rolex would never sanction through its own name; we have long known that Tudor is allowed a latitude and degree of creative flex that Rolex wouldn’t consider, but this is a new level of daring.
Does it hint that mainstream ceramic models are coming to the Black Bay range? It’s something that many of the brand’s competitors – such as IWC, Bell & Ross, TAG Heuer and Omega – have all embraced. We will have to wait and see, but you would expect that, even for charity and even given Rolex’s deep pockets, Tudor would be unlikely to expend the effort of re-engineering the Black Bay in an all-new material just to make one single watch.
Whatever it may mean for the future, the Black Bay Ceramic One is guaranteed to fetch a final result well in excess of its auction estimate of 4,500-5,500 CHF – the first time Tudor took part in Only Watch, in 2015, it created a Black Bay “One” that tweaked a few details on the Black Bay Black. Designed to evoke a vintage reference 7923, it sold for 375,000 CHF – more than 120 times the retail price of a regular Black Bay Black.
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