My Watch Story: Tudor Black Bay Black Ref. 79220N
Our regular contributor, watch collector Zach Toh, recounts buying his first Tudor.
My interest in timepieces started more than 10 years ago. It was an obsession that slowly crept up on me, and the more I learnt about horology through research, participation in forums, and discussions with fellow collectors, the more I developed a personal preference for a particular category of timepieces – tool watches.
More specifically, I found that I have a special weakness for dive watches. Besides serving really well as daily wear, dive watches are known for their practical and functional features. The uni-directional bezel is great for measuring countdown timings, and I can wear a dive watch for a swim without having to worry about it being damaged. Throughout the years, I have managed to build a small collection that included the Seiko SKX007, Sinn U1 and Panerai Luminor. I remember feeling the itch to add another piece to the collection, and it was then that I turned my attention to Tudor.
Despite Tudor’s strong links to Rolex, the brand has an illustrious history of its own, and is known for making top-drawer, value-for-money timepieces. Tudor built lovely tool watches from the 1950s to the 1970s, and when the brand started digging into its archives with the launch of the Heritage collection in 2012, my interests started to pique.
It started with the Heritage Chronograph, which was well received by collectors. But my head was truly turned when Tudor came up with the Heritage Black Bay Ref. 7922R with maroon bezel, which won the Revival Prize at the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève in 2013.
I was keen to add a vintage-inspired dive watch to my collection but was unwilling to pay a hefty price, and the Tudor Black Bay fitted the bill perfectly. I kept a close watch on the evolution of the fledgling range and eventually, I zeroed in on the Black Bay Black Ref. 79220N.
There were several reasons for this. The Black Bay Black Ref. 79220N’s slightly domed sapphire crystal case, as well as the rose motif on the on the dial and crown really accentuate the watch’s vintage vibe. I prefer this to the more recent iterations of the Black Bay with the ‘shield’ logo, as I felt it paid proper homage to the vintage Tudor Ref. 7924 ’Big Crown’.
Interestingly, the production of the Ref. 79220N lasted only six months. With its production curtailed, prices for this model rose, as the watch entered into limited edition folklore. Thankfully, I was fortunate to get hold of one of the last few pieces available in Singapore.
I opted for the bracelet version that came with an additional Nato strap, and later swapped it for a vintage-looking leather strap (I tend to prefer straps over bracelets). Overall, I am very pleased with the purchase, but with the recent launch of the new Black Bay 58, which comes in a 39mm case, I can’t help but wish the Ref. 79220N, which measures 41mm, bore a similarly smaller case size.
As an aside, since the Ref. 79220N is no longer in production, I would recommend that those who are still keen on getting a Black Bay, give the newer models a chance – I know I would myself, if I had missed the boat with the Ref. 79220N. Fans of solidly built movements ought to check out the Black Bay Ref. M79230N-009 or the Black Bay 58 Ref. M79030N-001 with Tudor’s in-house movement, which is COSC-certified with longer power reserve of 70 hours. On the whole, the watches’ aesthetics are still very much well thought-out, and remains hard to beat in terms of pricing and build quality.
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