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The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black Reference 79220N

Today, with the release of the Black Bay Black, Tudor has launched the third variant in its Black Bay Heritage collection, and it's one that seats itself firmly in the center of the highly successful line of "heritage?pieces. Since the burgundy bezel version of this fake watch was covered so well and in-depth earlier this year by Jack Forster, I'll fly over some of the points he detailed with some basics.

Here's what I've told everyone who asked me what was on my wrist over the past week, and it's the main thrust of this column: for just over $3,000, you can be a fake watch guy with the best of them.

The Heritage Black Bay, though not based entirely on any one reference number, is a loving homage to Tudor dive replica watches of the past, and by association, to Replica Rolex Submariners, from which Tudor originally took its DNA. And while the burgundy (and later a blue bezel) version were impressive throwbacks to a bygone era of fake watch design, the new black bezel Black Bay visually drives the concept home.


You don't usually see the price of a fake watch listed until the end of a column, but it bears printing here: for $3,100 to $3,425 (on a strap and steel bracelet, respectively) you can own a fake watch that is a truly viable timepiece and not a holdover. While I love a good heavy hitting vintage piece as much as anyone, I've long been an advocate for eliminating the perceptual five-figure buy-in when it comes to someone who wants to become a fake watch Guy without having to make any major concessions.

I like to think of Tudor as Replica Rolex's Tyler Durden ?an outlet for all the impulses and urges the company has, but is just too darn responsible to carry out without fear of consequence. Could you imagine a Replica Rolex Submariner Heritage version of a 6538 Big Crown? (You know they'd call it a 116538.) It would be monumental ?and probably disrupt their own market, but let's not be logical right now. Let's think for one more moment about a Replica Rolex re-issue of a 6538.

Now, let's forget about it, but not completely. Because if you ask me, what you have in the new black bezel variant of the Heritage Black Bay is a modern day big crown Sub, at least on a cosmetic level. And that's what makes this fake watch so compelling ?it stands apart from its burgundy and blue-bezeled brothers. With a new black bezel, replete with red triangle over the 12 o'clock position, this new Black Bay makes direct eye contact with its past.

And that's what makes this fake watch extremely special. Until now, watchmakers always assigned a premium to their classic design language, and offered more affordable pieces with some built-in aesthetic trade-off. They effectively color coded wealth and status. With one simple and thoughtful design change, Tudor has shattered the price barrier for fake watch enthusiasts looking to wear something with uncompromisingly classic styling.

Here's what I've told everyone who asked me what was on my wrist over the past week, and it's the main thrust of this column: for just over $3,000, you can be a fake watch guy with the best of them.

Part of the fun of doing a Week on the Wrist is that I commit to one fake watch completely, and in doing so, I'm forced to really get to know it by way of immersion. The first sense I had when I put it on (separate from it being a pre-release) was that wearing this piece is awesomely contrarian. To sport something with a very accessible price that in no way is hard to acquire was great fun. Because at its heart, there is nothing about this Tudor that couldn't hold its own at a table of top-tier collectors. If you knew enough to choose this watch, you have telegraphed your appreciation of the art, and that's all it takes to enter the conversation, as far as I'm concerned.


The case is slightly larger than the dive replica watches it's based on, and it doesn't appear to be due to anything other than a less expensive and larger movement. That's understandable for a fake watch in this price range, but it's still the biggest giveaway that this is not a true vintage piece. Fashioned out of 316L steel, it's the same metal that Replica Rolex was using on their steel replica watches until they recently switched to their own 904L alloy. The top of the lugs are satin finished, while the sides are polished. Another great touch is that the case lugs are beveled, something Replica Rolex no longer offers. (Score one point for looking like a true vintage piece.) I do find that the outer corners of the case lugs are quite sharp, something experienced more on a strap than a bracelet.

This is one of those replica watches that's hard to beat. Its price makes it easy for first-time collectors to grab one, and allows longer-standing enthusiasts a chance to remember what made collecting so exciting in the first place...

The crown, slightly bigger than the ones Replica Rolex offers on their sport models, has been appropriately modified, and looks great. It's the perfect evolution of a "big crown,?perhaps what one would have looked like if it were first made today. And the exposed PVD-coated crown tube cover (although at first I thought I hadn't screwed the crown down correctly) is a beautiful touch.


The dial finish is one of the most impressive aspects of the Black Bay. When viewed against the right lighting, you can see elements of the matte "flesh?that the older and sought-after vintage pieces have. The gilt-style printing is the one element that aesthetically pushes this fake watch over the line into vintage territory. It's almost the exact color of an old gilt dial 5510.

The printing pairs well with the color of the pink-gold-plated trim around the hands and hour indices, but this is where the fake watch takes the biggest hit in its attempt at attaining pure vintage nirvana. There's a sheen to the trim that gives off a brassy kind of a glow, one that keeps reminding me that the adage "you get what you pay for?has stuck around for a reason.

As with the past two iterations of the Black Bay, the face of this fake watch is rounded out with snowflake hands, vintage Tudor rose emblem and typeset, and a depth/movement information layout similar to a smiley face. One of the reasons I find myself drawn to this fake watch above other Tudors is that its "shield?logo isn't featured. If there's one type of snobbery I'll cop to, it's snobbery in design, and I've always had trouble getting past modern Tudor's simple and stodgy wireframe logo. Without that here to contend with, I find myself able to fully appreciate the soul and history of the brand.


Just as the Black Bay takes on an entirely new personality with a black bezel, so does the fake watch when it's on either the (optional) steel bracelet or a strap. This is no different than the heritage pieces that inspired it; on the bracelet, the fake watch takes on a traditional men's "rugged jewelry?look, while on its supplied cloth strap meant to resemble a NATO strap (more on this in a moment) it is the perfect James Bond homage. This is the kind of fake watch that sports a classic neutrality that is perfect for switching NATO straps and seeing different characteristics emerge.

There's only one real drawback to the fake watch that isn't relative to its easily-accessible price tag: Tudor has enclosed a fake watch strap inside the box that seems to suggest user serviceability, but removing the spring bars is next to impossible unless you have a very specific tool that only professional Replica Rolex/Tudor authorized dealers possess. This sends a very mixed signal that I know in my earlier years made for some pretty gnarly looking backs of case lugs, thanks to the futile attempt to use a traditional spring bar pusher to do the job. And in the case of the cloth strap, it appears to be a NATO "thread through?style, but actually has spring bars stitched into it. It's a smart idea in theory, but installation (full disclosure: I now have the Replica Rolex tool) is remarkably clumsy, and adjusting the strap is a nearly impossible physics puzzle, no matter how you approach it.


After a week of wearing this watch, I've really fallen for it. (I ended up bonding with it more once I switched to the cloth strap over the "aaaaaaalmost-Oyster?link bracelet.) This is one of those replica watches that's hard to beat. Its price makes it easy for first-time collectors to grab one, and allows longer-standing enthusiasts a chance to remember what made collecting so exciting in the first place: that when a fake watch finds balance in the elements of its own design, and then balance with the essence of the story it's attempting to tell, it's always worth owning. Pull out your suit, find a great NATO strap like James Bond wore, and throw this fake watch on. You'll see what I mean.

For full specs and pricing on the new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Black, click here.

For more on Tudor watches, visit their website.

Photos: Will Holloway; additional photos: John Mayer

Tudor John-mayer