Feature: Tudor Black Bay VS Oris Divers Sixty-Five
Not everyone has the means or desire to shell out the increasing amounts of money for a Rolex Submariner, but that doesn't mean that an exceptional dive watch need be off the cards. The entry-level Oris Divers Sixty-Five is a vintage-inspired treat starting at £1,270—but twice the price will secure Tudor's Black Bay. Is it worth it?
It's a good time for the very specific category of the historically influenced modern dive watch. To be clear, this is a watch built recently that apes those from half a century ago, offering a best-of-both-worlds foray into the annals of time. That means riveted bracelets, gilt dials, no crown guards—all the things that would make an actual watch from the period very desirable and very expensive.
But we're here because we don't want expensive—we want the opposite. But we also want quality and pedigree, and a cake to eat and still have. Thankfully, Oris has come to the rescue to meet such demanding terms head on with the Divers Sixty-Five. An almost exact copy of a watch Oris made back in 1965—hence the name—it takes the pseudo-futuristic design and garnishes it with a few modern refinements.
I'm talking about such details as a larger—but not too large—40mm case size, a self-winding Sellita SW200 movement, scratch resistant sapphire crystal and luminous paint that won't try and poison you.
It achieves this while managing to retain the essence of the watch it mimics, skinny aluminium bezel taking up very little real estate, simple shapes and finishes that keep the design unfussy, and a domed crystal that accounts for almost half the thickness of the watch. A choice of period-accurate rubber strap or riveted bracelet, and you're away.
But before you break out your wallet, you need to take a look at this, Tudor's Black Bay. In true estate agent fashion, it's well out of budget by a factor of two, but it's a must to at least give it the time of day, before any cash is splashed.
A few years ago, the extra cost of the Black Bay may have been a bit less justifiable, the watch sporting a movement that someone else made for it. But that all changed with the calibre MT5602, which added an extra millimetre to the case—but more crucially, made the brand completely independent of anyone but Rolex.
And you'd have to be living under a rock in a cave on Mars not to know about Rolex's involvement with Tudor, but if that has been your unfortunate predicament, here's a quick catch-up: Rolex founded Tudor in 1926 as a more affordable alternative to its primary line, offering Rolex watches with cheaper movements at a greatly reduced cost.
So, in a most un-Tudor–like way, the Black Bay received a movement—importantly not a Rolex hand-me-down—of its very own in 2016, turning what was an expensive almost-but-not-quite Rolex into a very desirable model in its own right. Coupled with the vintage Submariner aesthetic—one of the watches Rolex rebadged as a Tudor back in the day—and those exclusive Tudor details like the snowflake hands, and it all comes together as a very tempting and very well put-together package.
With a range of different materials, straps and colours—and even sizes with the recent 39mm Black Bay 58—there's very little to dislike about the Tudor. But is it worth double what the Oris costs? Well, when you consider that the similarly-spec'd Submariner is over twice the price again, there's a strong suggestion that the Tudor offers respectable value.
This conversely means that the Oris too offers good value, if not the ultimate quality and features of the Tudor, in an appealing and distinct way that is unique to the Divers Sixty-Five.
Between these two watches, there are no losers. You can either pay a bit more and get Rolex build and an in-house movement, or keep the not insignificant difference and strap a watch with just as much heritage and more distinct looks to your wrist.
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