Full house: Tudor Black Bay S&G

The new Black Bay S&G has launched in a smaller size, opening up Tudor’s classic offering to more wrists than ever

Watches & Jewellery 22 Jun 2022

Tudor is sometimes accused of being a “one watch” brand – that one watch being the Black Bay, the vintage-inspired diving model launched 10 years ago, which fuelled Tudor’s surge from awkward junior sibling of Rolex to a powerhouse in its own right.

The accusation doesn’t actually stand: models such as the Pelagos (contemporary dive watch), the Royal (sports-luxe), the Heritage Chrono (retro sports) and the 1926 (classic round watch) reveal plenty of depth in the Tudor armoury.

However, it’s true to say that the Black Bay’s popularity and influence (it’s the watch that launched a thousand copycat models, after all) is matched only by its versatility. The retro diver template has been refined, remodelled, resized and revealed in an ever-growing panoply of materials, styles and functions, all without compromising the essential character of the design: high-contrast dial, fulsome luminous hour markers and hands, the “snowflake” profile of the hour and seconds hands, and a streamlined-but-sturdy case.

To be sucked in by the Black Bay’s curious allure, you don’t even have to be in the market for anything much resembling a dive watch. For a variety of models in both steel and two-tone “S&G” (steel and gold), Tudor does away with the prominent rotating bezel that gives a dive watch its particular character: without it, the rugged tool watch morphs into a polished, dressy all-rounder.

The S&G versions, on fancy “Jubilee” bracelets, represent the Black Bay at its most spruced up and high-end, and have received something of an overhaul this year. There are now four sizes (previously there were three) to what is a resolutely unisex design, at 41mm for the big-of-wrist, 39mm (brand new), 36mm and down to a newly small version at 31mm. The new collection includes both black and silver dial options, and models with diamond adornments.

And there are some crucial refinements that further distinguish the S&G range from sportier Black Bays: the case is now more elegant and curvaceous, with a slimmed down winding crown. The seconds hand, once adorned with a square “snowflake” motif near its tip (as on all Black Bays), now features a round “lollipop” style instead – a more classical look for a watch that is clearly aimed for the middle of the mainstream, but still packs plenty of character and punch.

As it happens, the newgeneration S&Gs provide a hefty technical punch as well, since all four models are powered by Tudor’s in-house movements, including one that is brand new. Tudor’s growth over the decade since the Black Bay’s arrival has been accompanied by an ever-strengthening technical offer, with more and more of its models kitted out with the brand’s high-spec, ultra-engineered movements. These solid little engines mean longer power reserves (70 hours), chronometer certification for accuracy and reliability, and silicon (and therefore anti-magnetic) hairsprings.

Until now, Tudor has been making its movements in two sizes – one for its largest 41mm watches, and one for its mid-size watches (36-39mm). With the 31mm Black Bay S&G, a new small-size movement makes its debut, and that’s significant. The level of performance and technical superiority Tudor’s movements deliver is almost unparalleled at its price point. To extend that to the small watch category – traditionally treated by many brands as less important – shows the seriousness of its intent across all categories and audiences. It now has the range of movements to power its entire collection, and a fast-growing industrial capacity to go with it. Sometimes, it feels as though Tudor is only just getting started.

From £3,200; tudorwatch.com