March 22nd: Baselworld was barely off the starting blocks and already Instagram was awash with shots of the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, putting other launches in the shade on social media. Discussions raged over its vintage design, snowflake hands, screw-down pushers, rivet strap or date window at 6 o’clock; a combination not always to the liking of purists, who keep their eye firmly on the brand’s historic models. More surprising, however, is that these verbal jousts mentioned nothing of the movement. Why should they, one might ask, since Tudor has been producing its own calibres for the past two years and fitting them in its flagship models? For the simple reason that the MT5813 movement in this particular Black Bay is made not by Tudor, but by Breitling.
The template for the MT5813 is Breitling’s famed B01 chronograph calibre, its first fully in-house movement and testimony to efforts the brand has made to upgrade its offering and assert its independence. Not that the movement supplied to Tudor is a carbon copy of the original; Breitling has modified the chronograph registers and made changes to the regulator, with silicon balance spring, in addition to finishes that are specific to Tudor. Performance-wise, this COSC-certified movement delivers 70 hours of power reserve via a bidirectional oscillating weight.
Quality at an affordable price
Thanks to this partnership, Tudor is offering a chrono with date function that is water-resistant to 200 metres at a highly competitive CHF 4,800. And because one good turn deserves another, Tudor is returning the favour: Breitling can now count on Tudor to equip the 42mm and 46mm versions of its new Superocean Heritage II with a B20 movement, a derivative of Tudor’s MT5612. “It’s a positive move for Breitling in terms of image. Also, we’ll be able to propose watches with in-house movements at very attractive prices,” commented Breitling CEO Jean-Paul Girardin. Indeed, the entry level for this collection with its “joint in-house” movement comes in at around CHF 3,900.
It’s been years since two of the industry’s big names have shared their competencies this way; in this instance swapping a three-hand, instantaneous date movement for a chronograph calibre. Both partners thus benefit from a top-performing, tried-and-tested movement rather than spending millions to reinvent the wheel. In a not so distant past, it was still possible to admire a Zenith movement inside a Rolex, or a Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre inside an Audemars Piguet, not to mention joint ventures such as the one that Heuer, Dubois Depraz, Breitling and Hamilton-Büren set up to develop a reliable automatic chronograph. Through their “alliance”, Tudor and Breitling have presented an intelligent answer to the new state of play in a market that expects quality but is reluctant to pay soaring prices. By favouring complementariness over out-and-out competition, they could be paving the way for other manufacturers. Who’s next?