When it comes to luxury dive watches, Rolex has been at the top of the game due to the legendary Submariner watch. The Rolex Submariner is a watch that needs no introduction. For instance, it’s a top-rated dive watch both in mechanical and aesthetic aspects. Personally, the Submariner is a top 5 watch. However, in today’s Tudor Black Bay Vs Rolex Submariner comparison, a challenger is poised to give the Submariner a run for its money.
Although Tudor is Rolex’s subsidiary brand, it’s not widely considered to be an alternative to Rolex – at least in the past. Times have changed and tables have been turned. With Tudor’s return to the U.S. market, it has made some of the most impressive timepieces that nicely complements its parent company, Rolex. Certainly, one of the best Tudor watches has got to be the Tudor Heritage Black Bay.
For this Tudor Black Bay VS Rolex Submariner head-to-head, we take a look at these two amazing timepieces and hopefully help you answer the question, “should I get a Rolex or Tudor?”
Tudor Black Bay VS Rolex Submariner: At a Glance
For this timepiece comparison, we’ll pit the Rolex Submariner ref. 114060 with the Tudor Heritage Black Bay ref. 79230. Let’s first take a quick look at the specs of both watches:
Tudor Heritage Black Bay
41 mm steel case with polished and satin finish
Oyster, 40 mm, Oystersteel
Black with pink index, domed
Steel unidirectional rotatable bezel with disc in matt black anodised aluminium
Unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant Cerachrom insert in ceramic, numerals and graduations coated in platinum
Screw-down steel winding crown, with the TUDOR rose engraved and black-lacquered, with black anodised aluminium winding crown tube
Screw-down, Triplock triple waterproofness system
Domed sapphire crystal
200 m (660 ft)
300 meters / 1,000 feet
Self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system
Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding
Manufacture Calibre MT5602 (COSC)
3130, Manufacture Rolex
Hours, minutes, seconds; 4Hz frequency, Unidirectional rotating bezel, COSC-certified automatic movement
Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Stop-seconds for precise time setting
Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring
Steel riveted bracelet / Aged leather / Fabric strap
Folding buckle and safety clasp
Folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system
Tudor Black Bay VS Rolex Submariner: The Comparison
Size and Design
Based on the specs, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay is bigger both in diameter and height. The 1 millimeter difference in size may not sound like much but once you have both watches on your wrist, you’ll see a considerable difference. If you have a smaller wrist, the difference in size becomes a lot more pronounced. Also, the extra thickness of the Tudor makes it taller than the Submariner. The taller case sides allow the Black Bay to sit closer to the wrist. For the size, I think both watches fairly similar. It’s all down to your personal preference.
When looking at the design, it’s obvious that there’s a shared heritage between the Submariner and Black Bay. The Submariner features a buttoned-down approach to design while the Black Bay has a more laid-back feel. If the Rolex Submariner was designed by men in lab coats, the Tudor Black Bay was designed by bearded men in no-socks boots. The Black Bay feels more relaxed and filled with nostalgic details. A good example of this is Tudor’s gilt dial, the splash of red on the bezel, and the riveted bracelet.
On the flip side, the main thing that goes for the Rolex Submariner is the word “Rolex” itself. The tighter hand stack, more complex ridges, and better finish are just some of the more superior design elements of the Sub. The details on the Rolex are also leagues ahead when compared to the Tudor. It’s a legendary design for a reason.
Build Quality and Construction
When it comes to the build quality, the Submariner and Black Bay don’t disappoint. However, the Sub boasts some finer details and a slightly nicer finish if you care to look. Considering the cost difference between these two watches, it’s not a surprise that the Submariner comes out on top in terms of build quality. Having said that, both watches have excellent quality.
Both watches feel solid and robust, and there’s no rattling or components that are off. Try rotating the bezels from both watches and you’ll never get the impression that it’s made of cheap plastic.
The major difference between the two is the purpose for which these watches are built. The Black Bay is a Tudor Heritage model which means that it uses traditional parts. For instance, the Black Bay makes use of a matte black dial in comparison to the Sub’s ceramic dial.
Another major difference is that the Submariner uses a ceramic insert while the Black Bay has an aluminum bezel insert which is less durable and resistant to scratches. The Tudor’s case looks to be inspired by the vintage dive watches of old while Rolex has abandoned that case design many years ago.
Movement and Timekeeping
The movement is where most of the price difference comes from. The Submariner uses the “No Date” Rolex caliber 3130 which is, of course, an in-house movement. The 3130 movement boasts 48 hours of power reserve, a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour, and a track record of long-term durability. The movement is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring for added durability and it becomes resistant against magnetic fields.
On the other hand, the 2016 model of the Black Bay comes with a caliber MT5602 which is a COSC certified movement. The MT5602 movement offers an impressive 70 hours power reserve which is almost a day of power compared to the Sub’s power reserve. It’s worth noting that this is the first run of the Black Bay that runs on an in-house movement, not a modified ETA movement like with the previous models.
In terms of accuracy, the Submariner clearly has the upper hand with the unprecedented -2/+2 second per day accuracy. Conversely, the Black Bay’s accuracy comes down to a respectable -4 and +6 seconds per day. At the end of the day, the layman can’t probably tell the difference but purists will likely choose the Submariner.
Comfort and Wearability
The Submariner comes with the signature solid link Oyster bracelet and it’s a strong case for the “if it ain’t broke” mantra. It’s the mainstay of the Rolex brand and it’s definitely one of the best elements of the Submariner. Furthermore, the Oysterlock clasp prevents any accidental opening and the Glidelock system enables you to adjust the watch without tools. This is an important feature for divers who are wearing the Sub over their diving suit.
On the other hand, we have the Tudor Black Bay which boasts an array of bracelet/strap options. I got the riveted stainless steel bracelet model for this review and it’s fitted with folding buckle and safety clasp. The bracelet is actually a redesign of the old Tudor bracelets from the 1950s to 1960s. The riveted bracelet does have a memorable design which adds a lot of personality to the piece.
The key difference between the two bracelets is in the clasp which also affects the overall difference in wearability and comfort. Although the two claps work in virtually the same way, the Submariner’s clasp features a micro-adjust system which is the aforementioned Glidelock system. Making adjustments with the Rolex Submariner 114060 is far easier when compared to the Black Bay since the latter needs an adjustment tool.
The pricing is obviously an important factor when deciding between the Tudor Black Bay VS Rolex Submariner. Firstly, when you look at the retail price for both watches, you’ll see that the Submariner more or less costs double the Black Bay. Secondly, as a subsidiary brand of Rolex, it’s no surprise that the Tudor Black Bay is much less expensive when compared to the Sub. So if you’re going for the price alone, the Tudor Black Bay is a solid luxury watch.
However, once you look past the actual price, you’ll see that there’s merit to choosing the Submariner over the Black Bay – I’m referring to the resale value. For instance, if you take a glance at the secondhand market, you’ll notice that the Black Bay decreases in value whereas, the Submariner is sold higher than the retail price. If you’re planning to resale the watch down the line, the Submariner is the clear winner.
Overall, collectors who are looking for a dive watch but can’t quite splurge for a Rolex, the Tudor Black Bay is more than a viable alternative. Alternatively, the venerable Submariner is a legendary timepiece with a rich history, so it’s hard to go wrong with a Sub especially for first-time collectors.
Tudor Black Bay VS Rolex Submariner: The Verdict
In this Tudor Black Bay Vs Rolex Submariner comparison, both watches are fairly similar with some key differences. However, there’s no doubt that both of these watches are excellent in their own right. This is one of the many reasons why people are stuck with the Black Bay vs Submariner dilemma.
Ultimately, the main deciding factor for choosing between the two is the price point. The Submariner is almost $8,000 which is within the price expectation for a Rolex. The Submariner commands respect with its build quality and near-flawless design. Overall, it really is one of the most beautiful watches ever made and it’s worth the price tag.
On the other hand, we have the Black Bay which costs less than half of the Submariner. Also, the Tudor goes for a faux vintage vibe but it’s decidedly the more playful and relaxed timepiece, for instance. If you’re into a more youthful and fun watch that’s not going to break the bank, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay gets my highest recommendation.