These days it’s not uncommon to see brands going back into their archives to pull out a past winner and re-create it for modern consumers. I think that there is nothing wrong with this, in fact, it is actually quite nice for budding collectors to be able to own a piece, reminisce of the past, but without all the problems that come with age.
This year, however, Tudor took it one step further by reissueing a watch not just from their past, but one that was never actually made. I am talking of course about the new Black Bay P01.
This watch has ‘cult following’ written all over it. Basically, the P01 stands for Prototype 1 and was modelled after a prototype created in 1967 for the American government. As you would imagine, in a time before electronic wrist computers and smartwatches, the bezel played quite an important role. And in the US Navy, a mistake through a failure of said bezel could mean the difference between life and death.
This project from Tudor was given the codename “Commando” and used a Rolex patented system where a locking and disassembling system was used for the bezel. This was not only to ensure the reliability of the bezel but also apparently aided in its maintenance.
Ultimately the project was shelved back in the 60s but now 50-odd years later Tudor has pulled it out of their archives and revived it for the modern era. If you compare the original watch with the 2019 reproduction, not much has changed, except maybe the case size and also instead of Rolex’s Mercedes style hands you get the Tudor “Snowflake”.
The bezel locking mechanism is quite an interesting feature for a dive/adventure watch (I say dive/adventure because the bezel has 12-hour markers instead of the traditional minute markers) and requires you to flip up hinged end-link before being able to turn the bi-directional bezel. This, undoubtedly, has become the defining feature of the watch giving it a look that is unlike anything in the current market.
It may not be an aesthetic that many will take a liking to, but I think the story behind it might give collectors enough incentive to pick up a unit. I mean Omega’s Ploprof, Seiko’s 7A28-7000 “Alien Watch” and the Lip Mach 2000 aren’t exactly in-line with modern watch trends but they still have their fair share of cult followers.
Aesthetics aside, the P01 is still in every respect a modern Tudor watch. The steel case is in 42mm and satin finished. The movement underneath the dial is the Manufacture Calibre MT5612 which is Chronometer-certified by the COSC and has approximately 70 hours of power reserve.
Just recently, I had the pleasure of seeing this controversial piece in person and I have to say, the watch is even cooler in person. So here’s some extra insight on the Tudor Black Bay P01. The first thing I tried out was the weird locking mechanism that comes in the form of the hinged end-link. It was easier than I expected to lock/unlock the bezel as the entire thing moves in one piece, and for extra safety, the bezel needed to be pushed down before it can be rotated.
One downside that I felt the watch had, was that because of this special end-link, Tudor had to add on an additional metal attachment to it, which could then hold the leather strap with a normal spring bar. Although definitely not a deal-breaker, it could make getting additional straps for the watch a little awkward.
Case: Stainless steel, satin finished
Case size: 42mm
Movement: Manufacture Calibre MT5612 (COSC)
Water Resistance: 200m