Review : A week(ish) on the wrist – Tudor Black Bay GMT
This article was first published on Scottish Watches on May 23, 2019.
I don’t know about you but I quite enjoy the “week on the wrist” articles that I read on watch websites. They provide a more in-depth look at a watch and go beyond a basic breakdown of form and function.
If I have one minor criticism it is that they often seem to portray an idealised view of how a watch is used, I get the impression that there is a team of people curating photo shoots and discussing concepts of how to most appropriately portray a watch. Don’t get me wrong, I really like these articles but they are slightly remote from reality. With that in mind I present to you “A week(ish) on the wrist”, my real-world experience of wearing a watch for a week, doing all the stuff I normally do.
A little about me. I am a professional Electrical Engineer with a regular 9-5 job, I am more familiar with writing technical requirements than editorial articles. I am not a professional photographer, I would describe myself as a developing amateur who is slowly improving through trial and error and tips from other people. I have a great wife and a cute dog. I like walks to pubs, beer, whisky, cars, and travel. I’m 6’ 4” with a ~7” wrist.
When Tudor released the Black Bay GMT (BBGMT) at Basel in 2018, it received a great reception. There are a plethora of articles out there by people with way more knowledge than me that explain the technical specs and the history of GMT watches.
The two-part article by Ross Povey on Revolution’s website is probably my favourite in terms of explaining the history of the Rolex GMT Master and Master II including some of the key details to look for. The real appeal for me of the BBGMT was the mix of vintage-inspired styling in a modern reliable package. If you compare the BBGMT to a 1956 Rolex GMT Master the inspiration for the look is clear. Compared to a modern Rolex GMT Master II the watches are strikingly different. Personally, I prefer the more understated vintage-inspired look, albeit in a larger size with all the advantages of modern manufacture. Who doesn’t love a reliable in house movement with a 70-hour reserve? After seeing the images of the BBGMT and reading a few articles I added it to my long (and totally unaffordable) watch wish list. Having sold a couple of watches and gathered some funds I was in a position to add my name to a waiting list (or two) in August 2018.
Fast forward to April and I got a call from an AD to say that my watch was in, I made the payment and arranged for the watch to be shipped to my local store. This is where the week(ish) begins:
I went to my local AD on Saturday afternoon, the store was relatively quiet so I was greeted fairly promptly. I introduced myself and explained that a watch had been shipped to the store for me. This resulted in a slight look of bewilderment and a couple of members of staff disappearing into the back of the store for 20 minutes, I sat quietly by myself having a drink. It transpired that they had not yet unpackaged the Saturday deliveries but eventually one of the team appeared with the BBGMT.
I got to experience the AD carefully unboxing the watch and showing it to me and then passing it to me to have a look. We discussed how many links needed to be taken out of the bracelet and they disappeared into the back of the store again. They reappeared 5 minutes later and explained that they dealt more with Rolex in this store so they were not confident with adjusting the bracelet. They asked me to go to their other store on the opposite side of town. They repackaged the BBGMT gave me a bottle of water and sent me on my way. I should highlight at this point that the staff were friendly, helpful and accommodating, the service was a bit slow and disorganised, but I wasn’t in a rush and I cannot fault their politeness.
I schlepped across town to the other AD which was quite a bit busier. I stood around for about five minutes before a member of staff was available to help me. The lady that helped me was obviously a fan of the brand, when I handed her the box she asked if it was a Black Bay 58 and explained that she was on the waiting list for one (I guess even if you work for an AD you sometimes have to join a list like the rest of us mortals). She also admired the Black Bay Bronze I was wearing and we had a quick chat about retaining the patina when it gets serviced at some point in the future. She disappeared into the back for 5 minutes to adjust the bracelet and then returned with the watch, I tried it on, we discussed fit and whether it might need to be adjusted for the summer (which may or may not happen in the U.K.). I thanked her for helping me and left town. Great customer service again, if I had known that there was a rough split in terms of what the stores dealt with I would have got it shipped to the second store in the first instance.
I took the watch home, took a few unboxing photos and took a more composed photo of it with a can of Pepsi MAX, it had to be done.
My wife and I then went to the in-laws for dinner and my in-laws admired my latest purchase. My mother-in-law is into sparkly fashion watches and has a blingy collection (I am trying to persuade her to get a more reputable watch), she could appreciate that it was a nice watch. My father-in-law commented on what a classic look it has with the two-tone bezel. I guess it is fair to say that even people who aren’t as interested in watches as me could appreciate that it was nice and had some good features.
That night I wore the watch in bed. Now, I know for some people this is possibly controversial, but for me, I like to be able to check the time if I wake up during the night without illuminating the entire room with my phone or having an offensive bright red digital alarm clock next to me. Having a clear, easy to read dial with good lume is therefore pretty important to me and I have to say the BBGMT with its luminescent hour markers and snowflake hands does not disappoint.
I wore a checked shirt that matched the matt burgundy and blue of the bezel (who doesn’t coordinate their outfit with their watch?). In the afternoon me and my wife took the dog for a five-mile walk finishing at a pub. As is often the case in the U.K. we had some inclement weather at times. A little drizzle was no concern though for the BBGMT with its waterproof rating of 200m. When I got home I wore my watch when mowing the lawn in the sunshine, I had no worries about the effect of the mild vibrations of the lawn mower on the watch.
I wore the BBGMT to work, my time is split between the office and site. Today I was in the office so I was wearing a suit and tie. A common criticism of the Black Bay line is that they are chunky watches with a very deep case. It certainly is a substantial watch but it worked fine with a double cuffed shirt. That evening we took our dog to train, the BBGMT came in handy for timing one minute stays. I am pretty confident that most watches are capable of being used to time one minute accurately, but it is fair to say that the clear and easy to read dial came into its own again making the timing job that little bit easier.
Another day in the office. I wore the BBGMT with a blue suit, white shirt and burgundy tie. I think it worked well with the outfit. I also had to sign some documents so the date function came in handy. I do prefer the symmetry and clean look of a watch without a date function but at the same time being able to quickly check the date without referring to my phone or a calendar is handy.
It was the start of May so I needed to jump the date forward a day. It was quickly and easily achieved by moving the crown to the first position and jumping through the hours to move the date forward. Everything felt sharp and precise when making the change. I spent the day on site inspecting a High Voltage substation, an environment that is almost certainly subject to higher than normal electromagnetic fields. I expect I’m in the minority of watch collectors for whom this is a genuine issue to consider when buying watches. It is definitely something us engineers and scientists need to think about. I had no concerns wearing the BBGMT given that it contains a non-magnetic silicon hairspring, which offers a level of protection. The BBGMT is not anti-magnetic but a silicon hairspring is certainly a good step in the right direction. I probably need a Milgauss or Railmaster for when I’m inspecting electromagnetically dirty environments, although saying that I would always remove all jewelry when actually working on electrical equipment, the stories of injuries when things go wrong and people are wearing jewelry are truly horrific, I digress…
Another day in the office wearing a suit and tie. In the evening we were having dinner with friends so I made pizza dough. I didn’t bother to take off the BBGMT when making dough, I knew that if it got sprinkled with flour or splashed with olive oil I could give it a quick rinse under the tap and it would be as good as new.
Dress down Friday in the office so I paired the BBGMT with chinos, a shirt, and a pink bomber jacket.
I think this it is a perfect smart casual watch on the bracelet, it can easily be dressed up or down. I do like watch straps and changing straps but at the same time, I do find it really convenient to have at least one watch on a bracelet because it works in so many situations and with so many outfits. The bracelet on the BBGMT is pretty comfy with a nice smooth clasp, much smoother than the clasps on my other watches. Some smart micro adjustment, that doesn’t require a tool, wouldn’t go amiss, but other than that I can’t fault the bracelet. In the evening I took a lume shot of the watch with an old fashioned, time to relax.
In the morning I did some volunteering at the Arches Project. This mostly involves carrying furniture that has been donated to the charity around a warehouse for storage before it is given to people in need. I didn’t wear the BBGMT because it would almost certainly have finished the morning with scratches and knocks, I wore a quartz chrono for the morning instead.
It did feel different after almost a week of wearing the BBGMT. I put the BBGMT back on the evening and it was still running perfectly, which is no surprise given the 70hr reserve, and is certainly better that some of my other automatic watches where I’m lucky to get more than 16 hours reserve!
Final thoughts – The Black Bay GMT is a comfortable, adaptable watch. It is a perfect smart casual option on the bracelet that is easy to dress up or down, I don’t think I would wear it with a tuxedo but other than that I think it works with most outfits and in most situations. It is a well built reliable machine that does everything I need day to day based on one week(ish) of wear. It has some neat added functionality in the form of the GMT hand and bezel which I look forward to using in the future when traveling. It references the past with an almost timeless look but also with all the advantages of a modern watch. I have now been wearing it every day for three weeks and none of my other watches are currently getting any wrist time, which probably tells you everything you need to know!
I hope you have enjoyed my first attempt at a watch article where I have talked through my slightly boring, real-world examples of how I have worn a watch for a week.
Chris Morgan-Jones @mr.c.mojo