The one thing people know about Tudor is that it's Rolex's more accessible, diffusion brand. While there was a point in time when that was true enough, that time is emphatically over, save in the sense of retail value segments (aka price). Over the past decade, Tudor has been comprehensively re-engineered as a brand and the result is a watch company possessed of more character and dash than all but a very few of their competitors.
As is almost obligatory in the watch world, the job started with digging out the heritage, and despite the shadow of Rolex, Tudor has plenty of rich seams to mine. More importantly, Tudor appointed Davide Cerrato, a Rolex insider, as creative director and gave him the freedom to forge a contemporary identity.
Black Bay Heritage "Black" is the third model in a series that plays liberally with the past – watch geeks were initially appalled at the apparent lack of purity, missing the point that the only way you create anything actually new in watches is to recombine all those DNA codes in a fresh way. So the snowflake hands come from a Fifties Tudor Submariner and the chunky crown from another vintage piece.
On this new model there's a domed crystal, "black-chocolate" dial with pink gold hands and (luminous) hour markers – all very traditional elements. It's not oversized at 41mm and comes with the ruggedness that you expect from Rolex, even if the movements inside are industry standard (so far – Tudor debuted their own "tractor" movement this year). There's even a fabulous webbing strap that's made on the same looms as parachute cord. All this amounts to a package that has plenty of depth but is no slave to the past.
Unsurprisingly to my mind, "serious" watch collectors have been all over the Black Bay. At £2,000, it's a relatively cheap thrill for them, but seriously good value for everyone else.