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The Black Bay Red - it’s the little things that matter
When I first became interested in watches there was a watch that seemed like a distant dream. It was an unobtainable watch from an unattainable brand to me and so it sat in the back of my mind for the past seven years. As it happens, the original Black Bay Heritage was released in the same year my watch fascination started to germinate and it has been quite a journey since that time, a journey that many of you will likely recognise.
Through a selection of Bulovas, Seikos, Citizens, vintage Accutrons and moving up through Longines and a couple of Oris divers I eventually spotted a Black Bay 58 in the window of a local jewellers.
I was aware of how difficult it was to get and within a few days I had purchased it, but alas it was a touch too small for me. When I say a touch I really mean that because the depth was perfect and it truly is a stunning timepiece, but it never felt quite right on my wrist. Lon story short, my 18 year old son now owns the 58, he actually paid for it himself, and so it remains in the family.
Anyway, my Tudor senses had been stirred and so I emailed the jeweller to enquire about a pre-owned Black Bay Black that they had in stock. We negotiated a price and he happened to mention that he had just received a Black Bay GMT that morning. OMG! (As my son would say). At that moment the GMT was even harder to get than the 58 and the videos I had seen impressed me greatly. I said yes without thinking.
Two days later I was sat in the jewellers with the GMT on my wrist and I contemplated the wonderful new watch that stared back at me. It truly was a wonderful watch, but it truly can be the little things that matter the most as the title of this article suggests. Something was nagging me and it took time to realise that there were multiple things that I would change with the GMT before I was happy, and the cost of the watch meant that I had to be truly happy in every way.
As an aside, people collect watches because there is no such thing as a perfect timepiece and so they keep collecting, but of course many also like having a collection because every watch is different in some way. We look at the smallest of details and we appreciate the little touches that come together to create the entirety of a watch, and this is why the GMT was not doing it for me.
The date window started the process. It looks like a date window and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that there isn’t much you can do with a date window, but in this case it is small and cut in such a way with no linings around the square. The same design would fit a Citizen watch and not look out of place at all.
And then there is the red GMT hand. I know this is a GMT watch and I realise that there will be an extra hand, I mean I could see this with my very own eyes before I bought it, but over time the snowflakes on the hour hand, second hand and GMT hand crowded the dial slightly in my mind.
The Pepsi bezel also didn’t work for me and I found it a little too flashy for my tastes. The colours are muted and work brilliantly together, but it dawned on me that my deep preference is for something in between the blandness of standard Submariner colours and the Pepsi of the GMT.
Finally, it all felt a little cold to me. The white hands and markers fit the GMT aesthetic perfectly, but it would appear that the Black Bay 58 was playing on my mind and the fact it was still in the house did not help. It was the gold.
The gold hands and markers felt warm and offered depth to the watch that was not present in the GMT. Now, don’t get me wrong here. The Black Bay GMT is a stunning watch and I fully understand why people love it so much, it just transpired that it did not tick every box for me and that there was another watch that justified such a high cost, and it was the one I lusted after so much when I first got into watches.
So, long story short I sold the GMT for roughly the price I bought it for and then spent a few weeks wandering around with an Oris on my wrist. My wife and I discussed watches a few times, a subject she naturally hates, and one day she surprised me by taking me back to the same jewellers.
I sat at the desk and a Black Bay Red was presented to me. OMG! (As my son still says) The feeling I had when it was on my wrist was surprisingly calmed by the presence of it. I did not marvel at the look, the bezel colouring or the watch itself, I just stared at the gold hands and markers, and the way they played in the light against the red bezel and deep chocolate dial (at least it looked chocolate in that lighting).
This feeling has remained over the past month and for the first time in my life a watch has grown on me over time. I have a terrible habit of losing the novelty of a new watch quickly and then viewing it less positively as time passes, but not so here. It just works for me and in a way that I cannot quite explain, but I suspect that there are multiple factors at play that have come together to make me feel this way.
It could be a mixture of it being my first grail watch or the fact that it solves the majority of my perceived issues with the 58 and GMT, or just maybe it is by far the watch that suits my personal tastes more than any other to date. It is deadly accurate, less than 1 second loss per day, the lume is great, no date window and that dial and bezel are perfect to me.
Any problems? Only one really and I am able to live with it. I am not a fan of the slab sides and the depth because it is a touch high and too angled on the edges when compared with the dial and overall form. This is not, however, something that bothers me much at all, to the point that my wife engraved the watch so that it will never be sold, and for the first time in my life I am sure my current watch will not be passed on to anyone else.
All of those little things have come together to create a magical product for me and I could not be happier with the Black Bay Red.