When it comes to affordable dive watches that hit above their price point, look no further than the offerings from Tudor. As the little brother of the Rolex, the undisputed “king” of dive watches, Tudor has taken their in-house expertise for this class of watch and doubled down in the 21st century.
As such, Tudor gives you no shortage of options when it comes to sizes and styles for your next diver. There’s the 43mm Black Bay Bronze, special editions from Harrods and and Bucherer, and options featuring additional GMT and Chronograph functionalities.
In this post we’ll compare three of the most iconic models. The Black Bay 41, Black Bay Fifty-Eight, and Pelagos. We’ll discuss the history, specifications, and value proposition for each of these models. Which one should you pick? Read on and decide for yourself.
Tudor Black Bay 41
Since the Tudor relaunch a decade ago, their most popular model line has been the Black Bay collection. First released in 2012 using standard ETA 2824 movements and updated with in-house calibers in the second half of the decade, the Black Bay 41 was the original model that revitalized the brand in the minds of collectors.
The design of the Black Bay is quintessentially Tudor. In fact, according to an interview with Tudor’s head of design at the time, Philippe Peverelli, the Black Bay was designed to celebrate and pay tribute to the very best of Tudor’s dive watches of the 20th century. For example, the big crown, engraved with the Tudor rose, is a throwback to the Tudor 7922. The snowflake hands, now standard on all Tudor dive watches, was first seen in the Tudor Submariner reference 7021, released in 1967.
The Black Bay features modern dimensions, measuring in at 41mm in diameter with a lug width of 22mm. It’s quite thick with the in-house caliber at nearly 15mm, which offers great wrist presence. However, having owned a Black Bay Dark with the same dimensions, I can say firsthand that the chunkiness could cause the watch to wear awkwardly on smaller wrists. Check out my review of the Black Bay Dark here.
The Black Bay 41 offers some of the best bang-for-your-buck out there when it comes to serious dive watches with legitimate heritage. You have the choice of black, blue, or red aluminum bezel inserts, available at retail for $3,800 on a bracelet or $3,475 on a strap. On the secondary market, they’re consistently available for well under $3,000. It’s even possible to find examples under $2,000 for examples missing box and papers – if you can live with that.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight took the watch world by storm when it was first released in 2018. It was quite possibly the hottest (attainable) watch of the year. The reason? It was an evolution on the familiar Black Bay styling, with a vintage twist – and most importantly, in a more wearable case size.
The Black Bay 58 pays tribute to the Tudor Submariner reference 7924. The name references the year the 7924 was released: 1958. Unlike the 41mm Black Bay, the original Black Bay 58 had vintage features such as a gilt dial, gold accents on the markers and hands, and a (controversial) riveted bracelet design. The smaller case size is also more historically accurate.
At 39mm in width and only 11.9mm thick, the Black Bay 58 shaves 2mm off the diameter and 3mm – or over 20% – off the height compared to the Black Bay 41. Tudor accomplished this in part due to a new in-house caliber MT4502, which is more than 1.5mm thinner than the MT5602 found in the 41mm watches.
Though on paper it might not seem as significant, the difference is staggering when the watches are compared head to head. From this photo it looks as if the volume of the case has been reduced by half! The result is a watch that is just much more wearable for the smaller wrist.
Demand has remained strong for the Black Bay 58 since its initial release over two years ago. And Tudor added fuel to the fire just a couple weeks ago, when they announced the a new variation with a navy blue dial. While the new color is in no way revolutionary, it gives the Fifty-Eight a more modern aesthetic and is sure to please all the blue dial fanatics out there.
If you’ve been paying attention to the secondary market, you might be surprised to hear that the Black Bay Fifty-Eight actually retails for less than the Black Bay 41. At $3,700 on a bracelet or $3,375 on a strap, it’s a near-perfect diver at a crazy good value. And I don’t say that lightly – I’m speaking with my own money here.
Prices have remained continually strong on the secondary market. As of the time of this writing, the Fifty-Eight with black dial trades for between $3,500 to $4,100 with an average selling price of $3,900. On the other hand, the blue dial trades for between $4,000 and $4,500, with an average selling price of $4,250. The price discrepancy between the two variations is due to the fact that the Fifty-Eight Blue is a newer and more sought after watch.
Finally, we can’t discuss Tudor without discussing the Pelagos. While the Black Bay is perfect if you’re looking for the dive watch aesthetic, the Pelagos is a purpose-built dive watch for serious divers.
With a 42mm titanium case, 500m water resistance, and a manufacture caliber MT5612, the Pelagos offers some unique features not commonly found by mainstream brands at this price point. It represents a modernization for Tudor, with innovations such as the patented spring-based bracelet extension system, developed uniquely for the Pelagos and not found on any other model from Tudor or Rolex.
Like the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, the Tudor Pelagos is also available with a blue or black dial. There’s also a LHD (left hand drive) version, with the crown on the reverse side so it can be more easily adjusted by left-handed wearers.
The Pelagos was first unveiled in 2013, which means that there are plenty of older examples available on the market. The first generation of the Pelagos was powered by an ETA 2824, and is generally more affordable than the newer model with in-house movement. The first-gen black dial model, reference 25500TN, trades for around $2,700 to $3,100, with a recent example in worn condition selling for only $2,200.
The second (and current) generation Pelagos is still in production and retails for $4,575. Unlike the Black Bay 41 or Fifty-Eight, there is not a factory strap option available. However, significant discounts are still available pre-owned. The most desirable version with the blue dial, reference 25600TB, trades between $3,200 and $3,500, though prices have been creeping up slightly since a few years ago.
In this post, we’ve explored three different compelling Tudor dive watches, all available for under $5,000 new and $4,000 pre-owned. So which one should you pick?
From a value retention standpoint, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is a no brainer. Of course it’s also the newest model from Tudor, so only time will tell if that will remain true. But with the widespread demand and adoration its received, I wouldn’t be surprised if prices hold strong for years to come.
The only problem is availability. The black dial Fifty-Eight should be more available now, as inventory has had a couple of years to circulate the market. But expect a bit of a challenge to get the blue dial Fifty-Eight from an authorized dealer, and little to no savings to be had pre-owned – at least for now.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight is also the go-to option for more modest-sized wrists. It’s the only one of the three that is under 40mm in diameter, and significantly thinner than the others as well. It’s functional, subtle, and comfortable, making it my personal pick of the bunch and the most versatile recommendation.
But if you’re looking to get into a Tudor diver as affordably as possible, the Black Bay 41 has to be your pick. Having owned the Black Bay Dark with the same dimensions, I’ll say that it’s not unwearable on smaller wrists, though definitely much less comfortable than the Fifty-Eight. It’s also the only Tudor diver with a red bezel (though maybe that’s coming up next in the Fifty-Eight lineup).
Finally, if you want the watch that will make the biggest splash, you’ll have to opt for the Pelagos. At 500m water resistance, it easily outclasses either Black Bay in terms of diving capability. It uses more interesting materials such as titanium for the case and matte-finished ceramic for the bezel insert. And at 42mm, it’s quite literally the biggest watch of the three. You can get all this while still paying less than a Black Bay Fifty-Eight pre-owned!
So what’s your pick of the three? Vote in the poll or chime in below!