Review : Tudor Black Bay GMT a Personal Perspective by Omair Malik

The GMT is the movement of the moment, invoking imagery of far-flung travel appealing to the adventurer in all of us. Six years ago I spotted an Omega Planet Ocean GMT, from that
moment I was hooked on the movement. Scouring the internet for GMT watches I then realised the price of entry was reasonably high for the elusive independent hour hand (true GMT). When my thoughts settled, I decided if I was going to stump up the cash for a GMT it might as well be from the brand that brought us it, Rolex. Since then the Rolex GMT Master II (116710 LN) was the aspirational watch, the grail, so to speak. Time moved on and the Rolex GMT exploded into the golden child of the stable, availability all but disappeared and pre-owned prices skyrocketed. The aspiration jumped to an impossibility in one fell swoop.

Last year with my 40th approaching there was no watch which fitted the bill as a present from my lovely wife, the 116710 was too far out of the price range and availability to be an option, and then it happened.

March 21st 2018, about 9.30 pm I checked on the Baselworld coverage and Tudor had just
gone and shocked everyone with their own, in-house true GMT!

I blurted to my wife “I think my perfect watch has come out”; I say that every year was the reply. That night the excitement meant little sleep was had, this was it the grail that I never thought would exist.

Three long months later I found myself one of the first in Scotland to own this amazing watch.

I don’t say the watch announcement was a shock lightly. Tudor had no similar historical reference and big brother Rolex had just released a slew of new GMT masters including the much-coveted Pepsi BLRO.

Surely Rolex would not allow it’s younger sibling to trod on its toes?

But it has, in a clever strategy to elevate itself and offer a tantalising proposition to those considering other brands.

The Tudor GMT draws heavy influence from the extended Black Bay family. The case is essentially the same size, however, clever bevelled lower edges allow the watch to sit comfortably on the wrist yet wear a tad slimmer, this attention to detail is seen throughout the watch.

Gone is the etched rose on the crown, replaced with a much more pleasing embossed logo. The navy and burgundy colours on the aluminium bezel borrowed from older siblings, but given a matte finish; the navy especially alluring as it changes to almost black in certain conditions, I’d go as far as to say it is the nicest implementation of any Pepsi bezel.

The dial is close to perfection, a matte black base with subtle silver chapter ring and shield logo. It would have been very easy for Tudor to make the dial very busy but thankfully the design choices help avoid clutter.

The writing is kept reasonable, we don’t get a depth rating and the ‘officially certified’ could have been binned also, the best inscription is that of the tiny “Swiss Made’ outside the chapter ring, you have to really search for it such is the subtlety.

The indices are reduced in size, allowing space to flow, aided by the slimmer hands. There was a danger of snowflake overload with the inclusion of one in the overreaching GMT hand, but the watch gets away with it,just.

The overall result is a clean and well-balanced dial that you enjoy looking at time and again.

This is the Black Bay, evolved.

With so much new on the outside, it was clear there was going to be an evolution on the inside. The Black Bay GMT comes equipped with the new in-house MT5652 movement, a COSC certified calibre pushing out 70 hours of power reserve which is very handy for those of us who rotate watches.

The timekeeping of the movement has been exemplary for me, however, it has not been without its issues. My watch was one of those afflicted with the well-documented date issue (twice).

Tudor has readily taken in and repaired the watch, but information regarding the nature of the problem is scant. The fault has been put down to overlubrication, time will tell if that sticks (pardon the pun), the word on the street is the newer watches are not affected.

It was only a few years ago that Tudor was reliant on ETA movements, this rapid evolution is to be commended, it is not unusual for new calibres to encounter teething issues, and as long as it’s handled appropriately, Tudor will not feel the mire of customers.

As a sign of how versatile the watch is it ships with one of three strap options, steel, leather and fabric, each of high quality.  I purchased the bracelet but pretty much immediately that got replaced with a Crafter Blue rubber strap, then an Erika’s originals Trident, both looked amazing. The watch works with so many straps it’s actually sometimes harder to find what it doesn’t work with. This ability to easily change the look of the watch only adds to its appeal.

Given all this, the most remarkable thing about the Black Bay GMT is the price. To get a package that gives so much whilst giving you change from £3000 is quite frankly jaw-dropping. To offer this watch with an in-house true GMT movement simply blows the competition out of the water and that has been Rolex/Tudor’s greatest trick; squeezing those who want a slice of the cake.

This can only benefit the consumer making other manufacturers pass down more value. I’d go as far as to say the Tudor GMT is the best watch in its price point. For me it’s everything I’ve wanted in a watch, so much so it has taken away any yearning for the GMT Master, which is high praise. Many a watch lover has claimed their watch is a keeper, but I cannot see myself parting with this one.

I look forward to seeing it slightly battered on my wrist after many an adventure together. Kudos to Tudor for a remarkable feat.