When I first became very interested in watches, there was one particular model that I always aspired to own. It was the Tudor Black Bay Red and this feeling never really left me. Aspirational is the word because after running through many Seikos, Citizens, Bulovas and countless others I have ended up with the Black Bay red and I think that’s the end of my watch buying and selling story.
I recently owned the Black Bay GMT which is by all accounts a better watch. It of course has the GMT function, it is hard to come by and there are long waiting lists at every authorised dealer, and it is rarely seen in public. If you are wearing a GMT and someone else knows their watches they will notice it and likely be impressed by it. If you are wearing a Black Bay Red the same effect will not be seen because it is a commonly worn watch and in red is the most popular of the Black Bay series.
The problem for me was that the GMT felt cold. The white hands and hour markers didn’t drag me in and the, admittedly subtle, red and blue bezel was a little too noticeable for my liking. It’s hard to explain because it ticked all of the boxes for me, but perhaps it ticked too many which was the ultimate problem.
When you are into watches, and particularly if you have a grail watch, it becomes too easy to compare other watches in an unfavourable way simply because they are not the same. The white hands and hour markers are not a problem in the GMT, but they are not the subtle gold of the Black Bay, a gold that is enhanced by the red bezel more so than in the other colour variants. The date window is useful, but it takes away the clean symmetry of the dateless Black Bay. And then there is the GMT hand which makes the dial feel busy to me. Of course the GMT is still an exceptionally easy to read watch, but once I had seen the Black Bay Red it was hard to not see anything other than business and functions I did not need.
The old adage of less is more has never been truer than with the Black Bay for me. Pulling out the crown just one notch to change the time without the need to gauge exactly which position it is in to make specific changes to each function. The superb accuracy means I rarely need to correct the time and without the need to amend the date every month or two months it just sits on my wrist doing its thing and looking quite splendid.
As easy as it is to say ‘that’s it for me, no more watches’, I have an advantage in that I have never collected watches. I may have owned many, but I don’t like having more than one decent watch in the house. I like one beater watch, in my case a Citizen Brycen AW1590-55E, and a wear the rest of the time watch which is only removed when doing things that a decent mechanical should not be exposed to (grading, running etc etc).
So, this really is it for me. I always wanted this particular Tudor and it is easily living up to my expectations. I have never felt the need to own a Rolex or to spend a huge amount of money on a watch. I don’t care what other people think about what is on my wrist. 99.9% of people have no clue which watch is which and the ones that do probably have a focussed opinion on what a really good watch is and likely it will not be the one you are wearing anyway. And even then, what would I be trying to say with the watch on my wrist? Shall I wear a moon watch and pretend I am an astronaut? How about a massive dive watch for no other reason than it is huge and can go 1000m below the surface? No, why would I want to do that?
When I check the time on the Black Bay Red I simply see the time. I see the chocolate dial and gold hands and markers and a splash of red around the edge. That’s what grabbed me when I first saw it and as silly as it seems it causes me to look just a little longer than I need do when checking the time. This watch is for me, it’s my grail and I neither care what others think and don’t presume they do either. It’s my grail.