We all thought we saw it coming, that Tudor would bring the celebrated Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G (made extra popular due to the horological stylings and poeticism of one Mr. James Stacey) into the BB Fifty-Eight format. It’s a watch most enthusiasts thought they wanted, and one we were sure we would get. As occasionally happens, we were wrong – sort of. Tudor did unveil a 39mm GMT-capable timepiece, only it came in the form of an entirely new watch: The Black Bay Pro. But the brand also gave us a new BB GMT in its classic size and form factor, in a new flavor. If you don’t like “Pepsi,” there’s now the “Root Beer.” And if you don’t like Root Beer … get out of the kitchen.
The new Tudor Black Bay GMT M79833MN is known, officially speaking, as the S&G (steel and gold). At its core, this is a two-tone Black Bay GMT with yellow gold accents, a golden – shall we say gilt – aesthetic on the dial, and a new bi-color configuration on the bezel to match the golden color palette. I mean, could you imagine a blue and red bezel contrasting against steel and yellow gold? Luckily, you don’t have to.
I saw this watch approximately two hours after it was announced. We entered Tudor’s palatial “booth” inside the Palexpo at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, and were greeted by a table covered with this year’s novelties. The Pro was there, as was Nick Marino’s favorite 31mm S&G standard Black Bay. Luckily, on my side of the long table, sat all three configurations of the new “Root Beer” GMT – on leather, nylon, and a two-tone bracelet.
Naturally, I kept them to myself just long enough to try them on, develop thoughts, and not raise the ire of my colleagues. Lucky for me, the Black Bay Pro got the lion’s share of attention. At that moment, it became clear to me that the Root Beer was a sleeper.
I’ll let you in on my spiciest take – I’m not partial to the bracelet. Now, I’m a staunch defender of all things two-tone, but to my eyes, this takes the concept a bit too far. Something about the sheer size of the non-tapering bracelet and the saturation of the gold center links draws attention away from the star of the show – the watch itself.
In terms of the bi-color nature of the watch, the crown is solid gold, the bezel is solid gold, and the first two links of the bracelet are gold while the rest are gold-capped steel. This allows for the watch to remain relatively affordable compared to other two-tone watches on the market. At around $5,000 (if you average out pricing between bracelet and strap options) it represents great value for something with partial precious metal integration. Take, for example, last year’s showstopper, The Rolex Explorer 124273, aka the Two-Tone 36mm Explorer. With full gold centerlinks in the bracelet and clasp, that watch costs just about $11K. It bears mentioning that the clasp on the Root Beer GMT is entirely steel.
So is this a heritage watch? We know all about the Root Beer GMT models from Rolex in the ’70s and ’80s with their bi-color bezels in brown and cream, complete with the “Nipple” dials. It would’ve been entirely on-brand for Tudor to have iterated off of that color palette. Instead, we have something of a Tudorized variation of the modern Rolex GMT-Master II “Root Beer” aesthetic.
We know this because when Rolex released that watch back in 2018 with a brown and black bezel, it was the first time such a color combo had been used. It was the new Root Beer. Now Tudor has created its own version with the same bezel combo of brown and black, just like it did in presenting the first Black Bay GMT in red and blue alongside Rolex’s Pepsi model.
Qualms with the bracelet aside, I think this Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G watch flat-out rules, especially on either strap option but especially on the nylon strap with the matching stripe. Despite the mixture of metals, this felt more like a sports watch than the rest of the watches on the table at W&W. I know the BB Pro is the big release of the year, but I prefer the more fully-realized design aesthetic of the Root Beer. You don’t need to think about it when you gaze upon it. It just makes sense, as if it’s always been there.
The golden crown and bezel sing against the brown, black, and gilt accents and truly come alive when the Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G watch is on a strap. Sure, it’s still the same 41mm in diameter and about 15mm in thickness (with the same chronometer-certified MT5652 movement inside as the BB Pro), but the GMT case offers some visual relief via creative beveling to reduce the appearance of that thickness.