Splurge or Steal: Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay

Splurge or Steal: Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay

Most everyone appreciates a good watch. However, not every budget can afford the top of the line model. At Crown & Caliber, we don’t discriminate when it comes to fine timepieces. We love watches of all sizes, styles, and price points. And, we believe that the value of a watch isn’t measured by its price tag alone. That’s why we are doing splurge or steal, and today let’s check out the Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay. Just because one watch is more expensive than another doesn’t mean it’s better or worse.

Maybe you’re able to splurge on a top notch timepiece. There’s certainly no shame in sporting a high end model. But, maybe you’ve got champagne taste on a beer budget. We can show you how to get the look of that pricier model you’re eying for less.

The Splurge: The Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner is one of the most popular models on the market. It has been since its inception in 1953. In fact, only slight modifications have influences its design since its initial release.

Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay

There are a few key features that define the Submariner, like the 40mm Oyster case with water resistance up to 300 meters. The first Oyster case debuted in 1926. It marked a significant moment for the Rolex brand and watchmaking as whole. The Oyster was the world’s first waterproof case for a wristwatch. Rolex accomplished this amazing feat with a patented system. It works by screwing down the bezel, caseback, and winding crown against the middle case.

A graduated, unidirectional, rotating Cerachrom bezel and distinctive dial are other notable attributes of the Submariner. Rolex patented the Cerachrom bezel in 2005. It’s comprised of a hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic that’s impervious to scratches and fading. The diamond-polished bezel is engraved with graduations coated in a thin layer of platinum. These 60-minute graduations allow divers to monitor their diving and decompression time. The design and manufacturing of the Submariner dial is done largely by hand in-house. It features large, luminescent hour markers fashioned from 18-karat gold to prevent tarnishing. These provide optimal readability in the dark or underwater during a dive.

Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay

The Submariner Oyster Bracelet

Finally, it features a solid link Oyster bracelet. This style debuted in the late 1930’s. Since then, it’s now a mainstay of the brand’s entire range of Professional watches. The bracelet has an Oysterlock clasp that prevents accidental opening and a Glidelock system that allows the wearer to adjust the bracelet without tools. This feature makes it easy to customize the watch for everyday wear or to slip it over a diving suit.

The Movement

Most modern Submariners house a caliber 3135 self-winding, mechanical movement with a 48-hour power reserve. The caliber 3135 is COSC certified and fitted with a Parachrom hairspring. Rolex developed the Parachrom hairspring in 2005 from a paramagnetic alloy. Magnetic fields don’t affect it and the movement is more resistant to shocks and temperature changes.


The Steal: Tudor Black Bay

The Tudor Black Bay draws inspiration from the innovations of its parent brand, Rolex. However, it has a design and finesse of its own. The Black Bay made its debut in 2012. Even though it’s a newer model, it pays homage to the brand’s early dive watches from the 1950’s and 60’s.

Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay

The Black Bay has a 41mm stainless steel case and is water resistant up to 200 meters. The tops of the lugs have a satin finish, while the sides have a high polish. It’s also features a particularly prominent winding crown. This feature comes from the Ref. 7924 model of 1958 known as the Big Crown. Overall, the general look and feel of the Black Bay’s case and crown takes influence from the vintage Tudor Submariner’s design. (Of course, the Tudor Submariner influence comes from the design of none other than the Rolex Submariner.)

Another feature of the Black Bay is its stainless steel unidirectional, rotatable bezel. However, a domed dial is one of the model’s most notable attributes. It showcases an impressive matte finish coupled with gilt lettering, both of which give the watch a distinctly retro look. Up until 2016, the Black Bay also featured a vintage-inspired rose emblem on the dial. It with the modern shield emblem. The Black Bay draws a final piece of inspiration from the Tudor Submariner with its iconic snowflake hands.

Rolex Submariner vs. Tudor Black Bay

Black Bay Bracelets and Straps

The Black Bay boasts an array of strap options. It’s available on a riveted stainless steel bracelet or an aged leather band with folding buckle and safety clasp. The bracelet is a reimagined version of Tudor’s riveted bracelets from the 1950’s and 60’s. This memorable design features rivet heads for attaching the links. Both options give the model a distinct personality. In addition, each Black Bay comes with a second woven fabric strap fitted with a buckle. The traditional “Jacquard” technique fashions this unique offering.

The Movement

The modern Black Bay models house a caliber MT5602, COSC certified movement. It initially hit the market in 2015 as the brand’s first movement manufactured in-house. The caliber MT5602 offers a 70-hour power reserve and features a non-magnetic silicon balance spring.

Choosing the Best Model for You

There’s a reason the Rolex Submariner has withstood the test of time over the past six decades. This tool watch is a classic fusion of both form and function. It seamlessly combines the capabilities of a dive watch with a classic aesthetic that’s perfect for the golf course or a cocktail party. However, if you’re looking for a similar model at a much lower price point, the Tudor Black Bay is an excellent option. It may not have the rich history of the Submariner, but it draws a great deal of inspiration from time-tested vintage models.

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