Sometimes, you need a watch that’s a cut above other watches. Even other collectors’ watches. Something that’s bold, handsome, and announces its quality at first glance. Enter the Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G ‘Rootbeer’ crafted from stainless steel and 18ct yellow gold.
Or, as watch lovers have affectionately nicknamed it, the Rootbeer. For us unfamiliar Brits, a rootbeer is a North American soft drink, made from the root bark of the sassafras tree. A glass of root beer has a deep, clear brown colour, with a creamy, foamy head. It’s easy to see how this watch got the name. All you need to do is admire its black and brown colour scheme highlighted with yellow gold, and soft beige Super-LumiNova.
Of course, the Tudor Rootbeer is far more than its striking appearance. The Black Bay GMT S&G displays the time in three different time zones. With a 24-hour graduated rotating bezel, and black and brown bands on the bezel representing night and day, this watch marries style and function.
The vibrant yet understated look of the Black Bay GMT S&G has plenty of callbacks to the historic Black Bay models and their predecessors. The aesthetic is perfectly vintage, with the clean lines of a thoroughly modern watch.
Tudor first introduced the Black Bay to the world in 2012, but long time brand aficionados know that the Black Bay is only the modern reincarnation of a much older line of iconic divers’ watches.
Tudor started producing diving watches in 1954, with the Oyster Prince Submariner Reference 7922. The Oyster Prince drew on the strength of their sister company, Rolex’s, popular diving watch, the Submariner. The Submariner, produces in 1953 but released to the public in 1954, was the first watch to be waterproof to 100m. This was thanks in part to their unique screw-in caseback, known as the oyster. The oyster protected the inner workings of the watch and made it suitable for undersea adventures.
Add in the domed glass, and screw-in crown, and you had a groundbreaking watch that could go further underwater than previous models (apart from the Submariner, of course.)
The Oyster Prince Submariner married the high quality of a Rolex case, with a third party movement, to lower the price and make it more accessible.
The bidirectional bezel and large, luminous markers and hands of the Oyster Prince are still in evidence in today’s Black Bay GMT S&G.
Tudor kept refining the Oyster Prince throughout the 1950s. They moved from “Mercedes” style hands to batons and back again (the famous Tudor snowflake hands weren’t present yet), used stronger plexiglass, and increased the diving depth to 200m.
In 1964, Tudor introduced the Oyster Prince Submariner “Tropical“ Ref. 7928. The brown and blue tones – produced by exposure to UV radiation – could be seen as something of a forerunner of today’s Rootbeer colour scheme.
Tudor kept refining the Oyster Prince models throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The snowflake hands vanished once more, and the 3 o’clock date window started becoming common. By then, Tudor had supplied watches to the French Navy, and established themselves as a brand that meant business, no longer standing in the shadow of Rolex.
Tudor produced its last Oyster Prince in 1995, but in 2012 it unveiled the Tudor Black Bay range, which captures the magic and history of the Oyster Prince line, updated for the modern wearer.
In the case of the Rootbeer, history also includes the iconic colour scheme! In 1954 Rolex produced the GMT-Master 6542. Although it wasn’t a Rootbeer scheme, the combination of brown Bakelite dial with gold case, bracelet and markers definitely had a shade of things to come.
The 1970s welcomed the Rolex GMT-master 1675/3, featuring a brown dial and a two-tone brown and gold bezel, on a two-toned steel bracelet. Very stylish for the era, though it might look a little dated today!
With the Black Bay Rootbeer, Tudor takes inspiration from the original rootbeer watches of its sister company, and adds its own twist.
This is a striking looking watch. The first thing we noticed is the classic Rootbeer colour scheme on the bezel, featuring black and brown colouring highlighted by gold markers. The bidirectional 48-notch rotating bezel features a solid yellow gold base with anodised aluminium disc.
The face itself is black with dot and baton markers, and not one, but three, classic Tudor snowflake hands (hours, seconds, and local time.) The snowflake hands are a Tudor calling card, and bring to mind the brand’s diving watches from the 1960s and 1970s.
The minute hand is a sleek sword shape that offsets the other three nicely. The markers and hands feature a soft beige Super-Luminova finish.
The face also features a date window at 3 o’clock.
Three snowflakes could make the face busy, but we think it’s still well balanced. The crisply outlined dot and baton markers and the contrast with the black background make the face interesting rather than fussy.
The case and bracelet both feature stainless steel and yellow gold. The metal bracelet draws inspiration from Tudor’s classic folding riveted bracelets from the 1950s and 1960s. The stepped construction on the links, and the visible rivet heads, are both shoutouts to those heritage models.
The Rootbeer look is fresh, yet features multiple nods to the brand’s history. The domed dial and crystal are reminiscent of the Tudor’s early diving watches. The overall lines and proportions of the Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G strongly call to mind Black Bay watches throughout history. The unprotected crown and solid caseback likewise whisper of the brand’s long and illustrious past.
The overall effect is confident, yet just a bit less flashy than some of the Rootbeer models Tudor, and her older sister Rolex, have produced in the past.
Features and Specs
- Stainless steel and 18ct yellow gold case
- Yellow gold screw-down crown featuring the iconic Tudor rose
- Satin-brushed steel winding crown tube
- Case diameter 41mm and height approximately 15mm
- Water resistant to 200 metres
- 70 hour power reserve
- Automatic movement
The standout feature for the Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G is, of course, its ability to show the time in three time zones. The reference time is indicated by a classic Tudor snowflake hand. A shorter snowflake hand shows the local time. And the 24-hour bi-directional rotating bezel and 24 hour hand let the wearer track the time in a third time zone.
Tudor’s attention to details shines in this model. They’ve linked the date window to the local time hand. When you pass midnight in retrograde when setting local time, it jumps back to the previous day. It’s a small touch, but one that makes a big difference to its functionality.
The bezel features a black section for night time hours and brown for the day, with all markers in a striking gold colour. Again, a subtle detail, but one that shows thought, providing an instant visual reference for the wearer.
The Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G ‘Rootbeer’ is powered by the Manufacture Calibre MT5652 with GMT function. Tudor developed this movement especially for the Black Bay GMT model. The movement has been certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Indeed, Tudor exceeds even COSC standards. The COSC allows between -4 and +6 seconds variation in relation to absolute time, but the Tudor movement has a variation between -2 and +4 seconds.
The Black Bay GMT S&G also features a 70 hour power reserve. Take it off for the weekend, and it will be waiting for you, still keeping time. Add in the 200 metre diving depth, and you’ll remember that the GMT S&G comes from a long line of diving watches.
This is a chunky watch that’s made for an active lifestyle. You won’t be able to put it under the cuff of a dress shirt, but then you might not want to hide it anyway. This is a watch you can wear in the air, on the water, and on international adventures. Yet the history-inspired look elevates it from simply sporty to something much dressier.
If you like your watches subtle, you might not love the two tone steel and gold strap, and striking root beer colour scheme. But if you like a watch with personality, you’ll love the unique colours and soft sheen. We certainly do. This watch is vintage and a little bit fun, but still subtle and serious enough to work with any outfit.
The soft Super-LumiNova and the brown and black colours balance beautifully with the steel and gold metal, bringing all the elements of the Rootbeer together into a sharp, stylish watch. Despite its size, the Black Bay GMT S&G sits nicely on most male wrists.
Above all, this is a traveller’s watch. It’s ideally suited to business travel and vacations, with its multiple timezone function. The power reserve and water resistance mean that even closer to home, it’s ideal for hiking, diving, swimming and any outdoor activity you can think of.
The Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G ‘Rootbeer’ retails for £4,910.00
We love the fact that this isn’t your average heritage re-release. Rather, it takes everything memorable about Tudor’s iconic diving watches, and gives them a modern twist.
It also does a fantastic job of giving the original Rootbeer colour scheme a refresh, removing the 1970s vibes but keeping the playful sense of fun and love for standing out in a crowd.
It’s beautifully finished, highly practical, and a watch you can trust and love wearing for years to come. Whether you’re taking an international trip, or going for a weekend in the country or a day on the beach, the Rootbeer is an ideal companion.