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The 1950s and ’60s were a time of wild experimentation by the U.S. Navy – and that’s only counting the declassified projects we actually know about. Take the Convair Sea Dart for example, a supersonic fighter prototype that took off from hydrofoils. The plane acted almost like a boat, with its wings touching the water during taxi until it built up enough speed to lift out of the water. It was engineered as a way around having to launch supersonic fighters from battleships. After a prototype disintegrated during testing and killed the test pilot, the program was cancelled. When it came to watches, the same sort of experimentation was happening. For real.

The new Tudor Black Bay P01 is born from a ’60s prototype that was designed with a very unusual locking bezel mechanism at its core. In the 1960s, the tolerances on watches weren’t what they are today. Back then, the mechanism that allows bezels to ratchet generally wasn’t as sturdy and well-engineered. A bezel getting knocked out of place could actually cause a problem as far as timing is concerned, and when it comes to Naval equipment, it could potentially mean a real problem.
The “Commando” program, as Tudor code-named it, was initially created as an R&D effort to mitigate any sort of opportunity for the bezel to be accidentally knocked out of place. The research culminated in a design for which Rolex filed a patent in 1968. They settled on a mechanism that sat between the lugs and used tension to clamp down on the bezel in resting position, essentially locking it in place until the “hood” was manually disengaged and the bi-directional bezel was able to turn freely. Like the Convair Sea Dart, the program was scrapped for one reason or another. Presumably it was just too complicated an answer to a problem that demanded a simple solution. But it’s all part of the development curve – grist to the mill as they say. 

The Navy eventually developed reliable catapult technology that helped successfully launch supersonic fighters from carriers, and Tudor finally engineered out the flaws that made bezels sloppy. Have you operated the Black Bay’s bezel? It’s magnificent. Sometimes it takes some experimenting to eventually settle on a refined and reliable design. That was certainly the case with the prototype Tudor, and at least it only came at the expense of beauty. Keep in mind the watch was made for the Navy – the U.S. military doesn’t really care what something looks like as long as it works. We know there was certainly a need for a locking bezel; don’t forget that Omega even had its own take on locking bezels with the mechanism used in the Ploprof.

Like many things from the ’60s, there are plenty of folks who think this watch should have stayed tucked away in the annals of Tudor history – that perhaps it was a misguided move for Tudor to produce something so controversial. What if this watch hadn’t been championed as the largest release from Tudor at Baselworld, and instead they quietly released it without any fanfare? I think the timing has a lot to do with the general response. It’s hard to take a watch that was made for a very select audience and hang your whole brand on it at the largest fair in the industry. But there are only so many colors or materials the Black Bay can come in. This watch isn’t going to dilute the Tudor name in any way, and if anything it strengthens the core identity of Tudor as a brand that’s historically supplied the military with steadfast divers.

Now that we’ve established the context behind this watch and why it’s not necessarily supposed to be beautiful, let’s talk about how it looks and feels. 

The dimensions of the Black Bay P01 immediately shout “’60s.” I’d say that it also screams “prototype,” but doesn’t every watch start out as a prototype at some point? I think it has a similar horizontal case profile – sans crystal – as the Rolex Deep Sea Special Prototype. The Black Bay P01 is taller than it looks in pictures. Tudor had an original “commando” prototype from the ’60s on display at their booth as well. It can be seen as a subtle move by Tudor to quell all the controversy about whether or not the watch actually existed. But since both were in the same place at the same time, I can confirm that the Black Bay version’s case design is very true to the original. 

At 12 o’clock you’ll find the “claw” mechanism that locks the bezel in place. It opens with a flip similar to the action of a fliplock on a high-end clasp. To open it, you apply pressure on the outer edge of the claw until it snaps open. Once it’s open, it rests until you snap it back down again. Even though the six o’clock “claw” looks identical to the one at 12 o’clock, it isn’t functional. One active claw is all it takes to secure the bezel. I think the second one might be there for visual consistency.

Despite the presence of the locking lug mechanism, there was enough articulation in the lug extensions to wrap around my wrist and trim the large 42mm case down to something that certainly feels tall, but width-wise it doesn’t wear like a hockey puck. The lug width is 20mm, so there are a bevy of options when it comes to strap choices. I personally would like to see it on some mesh, as I think it’s super comfortable and nails the ’60s look well. A beefy NATO, just a tad thicker than the fabric it comes on, might even do the trick.

It’s entirely different from wearing a normal Black Bay. You can wear a normal Rolex Sub akin to the Black Bay, or you can wear the Deep Sea Special Prototype. This is closer to the latter. It’s not a difficult watch to wear, but let’s be honest, nothing I’m doing necessitates a locked and secure bezel. It’s a novelty, and ironically I’d probably play with the bezel even more now that there’s another step involved in operating it. 

I’ve covered how the bezel has come a long way since the ’60s, but more importantly, movements have come even further. And the P01 runs the MT5612, which, in one iteration or another, is present in the Black Bay range and has proven reliable. With a watch like this, there’s no reason to put a movement in that’s anything other than simple and reliable. That’s the original design philosophy, anyway. 

Is the Black Bay P01 visually polarizing? Totally. But overall the Black Bay line is so well established and Tudor gave us enough real crowd-pleasers last year that it doesn’t matter if they come out with something that isn’t an instant hit. In my opinion, Tudor has earned the leave and liberty to take some time to experiment. That’s exactly what they were doing in the late ’60s, experimenting. We’re always asking for smaller cases and true-to-spec vintage executions, but Tudor is giving us something even harder to come by: an accurate reproduction of a ’60s philosophy.

COMPLETE SET IN AS-NEW CONDITION! Remaining Tudor warranty until SEPT 2026!!

BRAND: Tudor

MODEL: Black Bay P01 – M70150

MOVEMENT: Swiss Automatic – Manufacture Calibre MT5612 (COSC) – 70 Hour Power Reserve

CASE: Stainless Steel

CROWN: Screw Down

SIZE: 42mm

LUGS: 20mm

DIAL: Black Dial

BEZEL: Rotating Diver with Locking System

CONDITION: pre-owned – As-New – Tudor Warranty Until SEPT 2026!!

BOXES/PAPERS: YES/YES: 100% Complete Set as shown in pictures!


STRAP/BRACELET: – Original Tudor Brown leather strap with Tudor Signed Deployment buckle.



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