Watch & Jewellery
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Tudor
The Black Bay P01 model of which the P01 stands for prototype 1
The prototype developed in 1967
The unique locking mechanism holds down the bezel
The watch is priced at US$3,950

Prototypes exist for a reason. They are the first, second, or third drafts of what could have been and are merely stepping stones towards the desired outcome. But what if, the prototype – for reasons unknown – was too early for its time? In such a scenario, the idea is usually benched and relooked at on a later date. In the case of Tudor, that later date came just over half a century later with the unveiling of the Black Bay P01. And such is the length of absence of this 1967 prototype that it soon became a myth amongst diehard fans of the brand (and sister brand Rolex), who were seeking answers about its existence like Roswell residents were towards the theories of UFOs. Aside from Tudor’s admission of this wristwatch, in which they threaded carefully about its potential of being known as a former proven failure, the fresh reiteration of it now has a good backstory to supplement the fanfare which first grew after Rolex locked in a patent in 1968 for a bezel locking mechanism that was rumoured to be from this Tudor wristwatch. This unique locking mechanism is positioned between both lugs and is meant to hold the bezel to the case like a two-way clamp. To turn it, one has to manually unlock the bezel to reposition it, which already sounds like a hassle by modern standards. Tudor back then was trying to develop a proprietary method for diver’s wristwatches (the idea was originally for a U.S. Navy commission before they decided otherwise). What is perhaps more interesting is that Rolex launched a version with this locking mechanism a few decades later which became somewhat of an auction success story, fetching six-figure sums each time it went looking for new ownership. The stainless steel Black Bay P01, however, is a modern day remake of that prototype. The crown at 4 o’clock retains its position as the original and so does the unique bezel locking mechanism positioned between both lugs at 12 and 6 o’clock. Case-wise, the 42mm size is easily wearable by today’s expectations and has all the appeal of those looking for vintage without having to really look. And trust us, if you need a wristwatch that’s an instant convo starter, this one will do the job without putting you in financial ruin. How does less than US$4,000 sound?

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