In Depth

History in the making: The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze

The new, vintage-inspired diver's watch reveals its own unique past through innovative design and thoughtful details

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A carefully chosen accoutrement should reflect the lifestyle and personality of its wearer. But Tudor has gone a step further with a watch that gradually changes appearance over time according to its environment – and what could be more appropriate for a heritage-inspired timepiece than one that reveals its own history?

The statement feature of the Heritage Black Bay Bronze is its chunky 1.7ins-diameter case made from a bronze alloy. Bronze watches are not as common as steel or precious metals such as gold, mainly because they develop a patina over time which, while appealing to some, can lend a non-uniform look. To counteract that, Tudor has chosen a high-performance aluminium-bronze alloy with brushed finishes that ensures an even look.

"The watch is designed so it will patinate uniquely to its user depending on, for example, the type of job he does or whether he commutes to work, or whether there's a lot of traffic and thus sulphur in the air," says Sven Olsen, the UK general manager of Tudor. "The key ingredient that affects the metal is the acid in your skin, meaning each watch will become slightly different."

The choice of bronze also lends itself to the vintage feel of the timepiece, which draws on the house's rich heritage of diving watches. "It's a link to our naval past," says Olsen. "Bronze is used for diving because of its anti-corrosive qualities."

There are plenty of other details sure to please ardent collectors, too, from the prominent winding crown borrowed from the 7924 reference Tudor watch made in 1958 to the angular hand – also known as "snowflake" – inspired by the timepieces the brand provided to the French navy in the 1970s.

As a subsidiary of watchmaking giant Rolex, Tudor benefits from considerable technical know-how and quality. Its first in-house movement was launched last year and has been adapted to fit the Black Bay Bronze. "Apart from the strap, it's 100 per cent Swiss made, unlike most of our competitors," says Olsen. "The fabric strap is made in north-east France on looms over 150 years old."

The beige and brown woven jacquard strap was inspired by a period watch found with a makeshift bracelet constructed from the elastic recovered from a rescue parachute. The watch also comes with a second strap option, constructed from aged brown leather, making for a versatile and functional new offering that's sure to stand the test of time. 

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze, £2,730; tudorwatch.com

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