The Heritage Black Bay and the Pelagos are both highly popular collections of Tudor watches. While the two collections are indeed current and feature modern materials and manufacturing techniques, they do take inspiration from several famous vintage Tudor dive watches. Both models are designed for use deep below the surface of the ocean, but there are a few key details that separate these two divers.
Join us as we compare the overall offerings of the Black Bay and Pelagos collections, in addition to a handful of specific watch references from each one.
Table of Contents:
Tudor Heritage Black Bay
Black Bay Key Features:
Case Size: 41mm
Materials: Stainless Steel
Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds
Bezel: Unidirectional, 60-minute timing scale, aluminum insert
Crystal: Domed Sapphire
Movement: Tudor Caliber MT5602
Water Resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless Steel Bracelet; Leather or Fabric Straps
Black Bay Key Features:
Case Size: 42mm
Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display; Helium Escape Valve
Dial: Black; Blue
Bezel: Unidirectional, 60-minute timing scale, ceramic insert
Crystal: Flat Sapphire
Movement: Tudor Caliber MT5612
Water Resistance: 500 meters / 1,640 feet
Strap/Bracelet: Titanium Bracelet; Rubber Strap
The Origins of the Black Bay and the Pelagos
Tudor introduced the Black Bay and the Pelagos dive watches at Baselworld 2012, which was a year before Tudor made its official comeback to the U.S. market after departing it almost a decade prior. Over the following eight years, each collection has followed vastly different paths. For instance, Tudor has expanded the Black Bay collection significantly by adding plenty of different models to the lineup – both dive watches and otherwise. In contrast, the Tudor Pelagos has remained largely the same (but with some important updates) since its debut by sticking to its tool watch roots.
Tudor Black Bay
When Tudor introduced the Black Bay, the name may have been new but it was clear that the watch model drew design cues from important vintage Tudor diving watches. For example, the 1954 Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7922 serves as inspiration for the Black Bay’s case shape, dial design, and domed crystal while the 1958 Submariner ref. 7924 “Big Crown” informed the oversized crown silhouette. Furthermore, the thick and geometric “Snowflake” hands were taken from 1970’s Tudor divers destined for the French Navy.
The first model to kick off the collection was the Black Bay ref. 79220 with a burgundy bezel followed by a blue bezel version then finally, a black bezel edition. If you want to figure out the bezel color from a particular reference number, understand that the letters are short for different colors in French: “R” for rouge (red), “B” for bleu (blue), and “N” for noir (black).
In 2016, Tudor replaced the ETA movement-powered Black Bay ref. 79220 with the Black Bay ref. 79230, which is powered by an in-house movement.
2012 – Black Bay ref. 79220R with red burgundy bezel
2014 – Black Bay ref. 79220B with blue bezel
2015 – Black Bay ref. 79220N with black bezel
2016 – Black Bay ref. 79230 R/B/N with new in-house movement
2016 – Black Bay ref. 79230DK with black PVD treatment
The Black Bay ref. 79230 is the heart of the Tudor BB collection. These dive watches sport 41mm steel cases water-resistant to 200 meters, unidirectional aluminum bezels, black no-date dials, and in-house Tudor Manufacture Caliber MT5602 automatic movements.
However, as previously mentioned, Tudor has introduced other references under the Black Bay banner, which includes additional dive watch models, everyday timepieces, sporty chronographs, and a practical GMT travel watch.
Black Bay Fifty-Eight – 39mm steel cases, black or blue colorways, aluminum bezels, no-date dials
Black Bay Steel – 41mm steel cases, steel bezels, date window
Black Bay S&G – 41mm two-tone steel and gold cases, aluminum bezels, date window
Black Bay Bronze – 43mm bronze cases, aluminum bezels, no-date dials
Black Bay P01 – 42mm steel case, steel bezel with locking mechanism, date window
Black Bay Chrono – 41mm steel cases, steel tachymeter bezel, bi-compax dials with date window
Black Bay Chrono S&G – 41mm steel/gold cases, aluminum tachymeter bezel, bi-compax dials with date window
Black Bay GMT – 41mm steel cases, aluminum blue and burgundy 24-hour bezel, date window and 24-hour hand
Black Bay 32/36/41 – 32mm, 36mm, or 41mm cases, steel or steel/gold, smooth metal bezels, no-date dials
Unlike the Black Bay, the history of the Tudor Pelagos has remained fairly linear with only a handful of variants made since its 2012 release. Positioned as Tudor’s most technical dive watch and named after the Greek word for “open seas,” the first model to launch the collection was the Pelagos 25500TN. The watch featured a large but lightweight 42mm titanium case with a helium escape valve at 9 o’clock, a black ceramic diver’s bezel, and a dial with the luminous Snowflake hands and geometric indexes. Inside the Pelagos 25500TN is an automatic ETA-based movement.
Three years later, Tudor introduced the Pelagos 25600TN along with a new blue version, the Pelagos 25600TB. The major difference between this pair of Pelagos watches and the previous edition is that the newest versions run on an in-house Tudor movement. Furthermore, because of that caliber switch, the dials of the Pelagos now include three more lines of text to include the “Chronometer Officially Certified” designation, in addition to the PELAGOS name.
Finally, in 2016, Tudor introduced the Pelagos LHD 25610TNL, where LHD stands for “Left Hand Drive” to denote that the winding crown is placed on the left side of the case.
2012 – Pelagos 25500TN (ETA movement)
2015 – Pelagos 25600TN and 25600TB (in-house movement)
2016 – Pelagos LHD 25610TNL
Tudor Black Bay 79230 vs. Tudor Pelagos 25600TN Comparison
We’ve selected two of the most similar references from each collection to compare their specs side by side: the Tudor Black Bay 79230 and the Tudor Pelagos 25600 dive watches.
|Tudor Black Bay 79230||Tudor Pelagos 25600|
|Case||41mm Stainless Steel; No crown guards; Screw-down winding crown||42mm Titanium; Crown guards; Triplock screw-down winding crown; Helium Escape Valve|
|Dial||Black; Snowflake hands; Round, baton, and triangle indexes; No-date||Black, Blue; Snowflake hand; Square, rectangular, and triangle indexes; Date display|
|Bezel||Unidirectional; Steel with aluminum insert (Black, Blue, Burgundy); Single lume plot at 12 o’clock||Unidirectional; Titanium with ceramic insert (Black, Blue); Luminous markings|
|Crystal||Domed Sapphire||Flat Sapphire|
|Bracelet||Steel, Leather, Fabric||Titanium with extension system; Additional rubber straps|
|Movement||Tudor Caliber MT5602 (automatic, 70-hr power reserve, COSC-certified)||Tudor Caliber MT5612 (automatic, 70-hr power reserve, COSC-certified)|
|Water Resistance||200 meters / 660 feet||500 meters / 1,640 feet|
|Retail Price||Starting at $3,475||Starting at $4,575|
To illustrate the variety of the Tudor Black Bay collection, we take a detailed look at some other Black Bay dive watch references to see how they compare to the Pelagos.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay vs. Pelagos: Case and Bracelet
First up we have the Heritage Black Bay Steel (ref. 79730) and the Heritage Black Bay SG (ref. 79733N). Both models debuted at Baselworld 2017. As their names suggest, the Steel version sports a 41mm steel case while the SG (short for Steel Gold) includes a steel case with yellow gold details. Both versions feature large screw-down winding crowns, reminiscent of the famous Tudor ref. 7924 “Big Crown” from 1958. The Tudor Black Bay dive watches are water-resistant to 200 meters (660 feet) while the Tudor Pelagos timepieces can go much deeper with a water resistance rating of 500 meters (1,640 feet). In addition to their greater depth rating, Pelagos watches also feature helium escape valves allowing them to be used for saturation diving purposes.
To keep the price accessible, Tudor used a variety of gold applications on the Black Bay SG model including gold-capping the crown. There are also the yellow gold-capped center links on the bracelet of the SG along with solid gold end-links. The rivet-style bracelet of both the Black Bay Steel and SG are also vintage-inspired, borrowing design details from Tudor watches from the 1950s and 1960s. Both watches are available with the option of a fabric strap for a different look and feel.
On the other hand, the blue Tudor Pelagos (ref. 25600TB) and the black Tudor Pelagos (ref. 25600TN) feature 42mm titanium cases, making them look and wear a bit larger than the Heritage Black Bay models. The titanium bracelets of the Pelagos watches include a super practical spring-loaded clasp. This allows the clasp to expand and contract according to the wearer’s wrist motion for optimal fit and comfort. As a professional diving watch, the Tudor Pelagos also comes available with an extra-long and durable rubber strap for wearing over a wetsuit.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay vs. Pelagos: Dial and Bezel
A look at the dials of both the Heritage Black Bay and the Pelagos reveals Tudor’s iconic snowflake-style hands. These distinct hands are taken from those Tudor watches destined for the French National Navy in the 1970s. In addition to the center hands, the Pelagos also has a date window at 3 o’clock, as do the Black Bay Steel and SG models, despite the standard Black Bay being a time-only watch.
Since these are diving watches, both the Heritage Black Bay and the Pelagos have great lume on the dial. The Heritage BB has round indexes while the Pelagos includes square ones. Furthermore, the inverted triangle indexes and batons are thicker on the Pelagos compared to the slimmer ones on the Black Bay. Depending on the version, the Pelagos dial comes in bright blue or classic black, both with white details. The Tudor Black Bay watches feature domed black dials. To match the two-tone construction of the SG version, its dial has yellow gold details completed with gilt text.
Tudor Pelagos watches include ceramic unidirectional diving bezels in matching blue or black, and unlike the bezels on the Black Bay collection, the bezels on the Pelagos feature fantastic luminescence. Conversely, the Black Bay Steel comes equipped with a steel bezel while the SG model has a black bezel insert.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay vs. Pelagos: Movement
While the time-only Black Bay is powered by Tudor’s in-house MT5602 movement, both the Pelagos and the date displaying Black Bay models run on the in-house Tudor Manufacture Caliber MT5612. It’s also worth noting that the Steel and SG models are the first time that the Black Bay collection has offered the date function.
The MT5612 automatic movement provides a 70-hour power reserve with a frequency rate of 28,800 beats per hour (4Hz). Of course like other in-house Tudor movements, the Cal. MT5612 boasts COSC chronometer certification.
Tudor Black Bay or Tudor Pelagos?
Although all carry signature design details from Tudor’s archives, the Black Bay is without a doubt the more vintage-inspired option with details such as domed crystals, domed dials with gold accents, and a lack of crown guards. Additionally, the Black Bay range offers much more variety in terms of sizes, materials, and functionality, to suit a range of styles and tastes.
Conversely, the more contemporary looking Pelagos sits firmly in the tool watch category, emphasizing no-nonsense utility above obvious luxury. Specs like the spring action clasp, generous lume on the ceramic bezel, HEV, and 500m water-resistance rating make the Pelagos a technically impressive dive watch. While it offers a few references to design traits from Tudor’s past, the Pelagos is undeniably a modern watch, both inside and out.
While they are both highly capable dive watches, the Black Bay and Pelagos offer two very different takes on a professional underwater timepiece. Both the Tudor Black Bay and the Pelagos collections are superb in their own way, presenting fantastic aesthetics and top-notch mechanics – and as always, offered at attractive Tudor value-driven prices.