Buying a high-end watch is no simple decision. Very rarely do you buy a timepiece worth thousands of dollars without at least looking at other options on the market.
This is perfectly normal; you don't want to spend a considerable chunk of your savings and be left unsatisfied. Two watches that have kept being put head to head for the last few decades are the Omega Seamaster 300m and the Tudor Black Bay.
The reason is quite simple, these are two excellent pieces that accomplish a similar purpose. However, each watch has a few particularities that should help you lean towards one or the other. Let's dig into it!
tudor black bay
The first important difference between the Seamaster and the Black Bay is their size. As you can see above, the Tudor is clearly the bulkiest of the two. Although the case diameter is slightly smaller, the BB's lug-to-lug, thickness, and lug width are all considerably larger than the Seamaster 300m.
For this reason, I think people with smaller wrists (6.5'' and below) should think twice before getting the Black Bay (lug overhang could be a problem). In my opinion, the best way to figure out if the size is right for you is to go to an AD and try both watches on.
In my experience, the Seamaster is slightly more comfortable as a daily watch than the Tudor. Indeed, the towering height of the Black Bay makes it hard to forget that you're wearing a watch, and it also gets banged up quite easily.
TUDOR BLACK BAY
Domed anti-reflective sapphire
300m / 30 bar
200m /20 bar
Ceramic 60-minute scale
Aluminum 60-minute scale
With the price tag of these two watches, it's no surprise to hear that they both use sapphire crystals. Even though both watchmakers use domed crystals to give a vintage aspect to their watch, there is one important difference between the two.
In line with its parent company (Rolex), Tudor doesn't apply anti-reflective coating to the Black Bay's crystal. If you've ever owned a domed sapphire crystal before, you know how reflective these can be.
On the other hand, Omega applies anti-reflective coating to both sides of the Seamaster 300m's crystal. This comes with the obvious benefit of reducing reflectiveness to a minimum, but it does have a small inconvenience.
Since AR-coating is also applied to the outer side of the crystal, the small film can get scratched quite easily. This kind of removes the purpose of getting a sapphire crystal if the AR film is going to get scratched anyway. However, there are some ways to remove outer coating if you want to.
Water Resistance & Crown
It's funny to think that water resistance rating plays a big role in our buying decision even though we almost never use the watch to its full capacity. A lot of people prefer the Seamaster to the Black Bay simply for the fact that it has 300m of WR instead of 200m.
In practice, there're very few advantages of a 300m rating instead of 200m. Indeed, the average scuba diving depth is around 40m, so 200 meters is plenty. The main advantage of the Seamaster is that it can be used for saturation diving.
However, this isn't due to the 300m rating itself, but it's rather possible thanks to the helium escape valve situated at the 10 o'clock position.
Since 99% of us will never actually use our watch for saturation diving, the biggest factor is how we like the styling. To some, the two-crown layout of the Seamaster is a total deal-breaker. To others, it's what makes this watch so appealing.
Aesthetically, the bezel insert of the Seamaster and Black Bay is pretty similar. They're both 60-minute unidirectional rotating bezels with 10-minute gradation. However, the material used is quite different for the two watches.
The Tudor Black Bay is equipped with an aluminum insert, this is a cheap(ish) material that's also used on sub-$200 watches. Conversely, the Seamaster's bezel insert is made of ceramic, which is a near scratch-proof material.
Although ceramic is the preferred option for high-end watches, you shouldn't discount the Black Bay's aluminum insert so quickly. Even though it will get scratched more easily, it is much more shatter-resistant than ceramic.
What would a dive watch be without proper lume? Knowing this feature is highly scrutinized by dive watch buyers, both watchmakers put a lot of effort into getting the best lume possible.
Omega proudly displays on its website that the Seamaster 300m uses a white Super-Luminova application. Although they don't specify which formula they use, I'm almost 100% positive that it's the C3 treatment, Super-Luminova's brightest.
On the other hand, Tudor doesn't say anywhere what lume it uses on the Black Bay. The general consensus is that Tudor also uses a Superluminova application, but some speculate that it is Rolex's Chromalight lume.
Nevertheless, both lumes are excellent, and this feature shouldn't make you choose one watch over the other. The lumed elements are the same for the two watches: hands, indices, and lume pip on the bezel.
TUDOR BLACK BAY
0 to +5 seconds/day
-4 to +6 seconds/day
Shock Resistance, Co-axial Escapement, Anti-Magnetic
Silicon Balance Spring, Variable Inertia, Micro-Adjustements
The Omega Calibre 8800 and Tudor MT5602 are two excellent automatic movements, but they each have their pros and cons. For instance, the Calibre 8800 is clearly the most accurate of the two movements.
Omega's caliber is both COSC and METAS certified, which means it keeps time as accurately as 0 to +5 seconds per day. Another great feature of the Seamaster 300m is the co-axial escapement (as proudly displayed on the dial). This technology reduces friction to a minimum and makes lubrication almost unnecessary.
On the other hand, the Tudor MT5602 is slightly less accurate, but it does have a much larger power reserve. Indeed, with the 70 hours reserve, you will be able to take off your watch on Friday and wear it again Monday morning without setting the time.
Also, the MT5602 beats at a higher frequency (28,800 bph), which results in a slightly smoother sweep of the second hand.
Each movement packs its lot of technologies and gizmos, which you can read all about on the respective watchmaker's website.
TUDOR BLACK BAY
Case & Bracelet
The main reason why the Seamaster 300m and Tudor Black Bay are often compared is that they are two dive watches in a similar price range. Although they share the same original purpose, the two differ both in specifications and styling.
The dial of the Seamaster 300m features the famous wave pattern that we fell in love with over the years. This pattern is laser-engraved in a matte ceramic dial which color matches the bezel.
Another important thing about the Seamaster 300m's dial is the date complication. Indeed, lots of collectors refuse to buy a daily watch without a date window since it's important information to them.
If this is the case for you, you shouldn't consider the Black Bay because it doesn't have the date. However, the Tudor BB Steel is a version that comes with a date display, but the silver bezel and lack of Gilt dial are underwhelming to most potential buyers.
In fact, the gilt dial is probably the main reason why the Tudor Black Bay is so popular. These gold trims give a vintage feel to the Black Bay that simply can't be replicated. Furthermore, the dial is slightly domed, adding to the distinctiveness of this Tudor.
In my humble opinion, the Tudor Black Blay has the best set of hands between the two. Not only are the snowflake hands beautiful, but they're also very iconic. This set of hands is a tradition that Tudor has been perpetuating for over half a century, and it clearly works.
Conversely, the hands of the Omega Seamaster are quite polarizing. First of all, the sword-shaped minute and hour hands are nothing out of the ordinary, and the skeleton design is hit-or-miss.
However, I do like that the Seamaster uses a red-tipped second hand to increase legibility. Indeed, legibility is a very important feature on a dive watch, so I like to see this kind of attention to detail.
For most hour marks, the Seamaster and Black Bay share the same circles/rectangles layout that was made famous by the Rolex Submariner. However, the 12 o'clock mark is slightly different; elongated triangle for the Tudor and double rectangle for the Omega.
Also, the two watches have a minute-graded chapter ring that's painted directly on the dial.
At this price point, both watchmakers chose to go for a stainless steel case. I like the Seamaster's case a bit more because the lugs are chamfered, it has crown guards, and it also uses a sapphire case back to peek through the Calibre 8800.
It's great to be able to see this gorgeous movement at work, especially since exhibition case backs are pretty rare on dive watches. Also, the stainless steel part of the case back has a nice wave pattern.
On the other hand, the Black Bay's case is much more conservative, and it doesn't have crown guards (which is dangerous for clumsy people like me). Of course, the finish is excellent, but the design is a bit too bland for my taste.
If you want the cheapest price possible, you will have to opt for a leather band Black Bay or a rubber strap Seamaster. To get the stainless steel bracelet, you will have to spend a few extra hundreds (300$ for the Seamaster and 325$ for the Black Bay).
In my opinion, it's absolutely worth it to buy the bracelet, no matter which watch you choose. The two are very comfortable, durable, and look absolutely great.
TUDOR BLACK BAY
It's surprising that the Seamaster gets compared so often to the Black Bay since the latter is much cheaper. However, a $1,500 difference isn't that big if you consider that you'll possibly be wearing this watch for the better part of the rest of your life.
Also, this is the reason why I used to Seamaster Diver 300m for comparison, since the actual Seamaster 300 starts at a whopping $6,500. One argument for the high price of the Omega is that its Co-Axial 8800 Caliber is near-frictionless, so you should service it less often than the Black Bay.
All in all, I think a big chunk of the price comes down to brand recognition. If you're looking for the best bang-for-your-buck watch, I can't argue against the Tudor Black Bay.
A 2-year warranty used to be standard for luxury watches, but it just isn't enough anymore. Indeed, we expect nothing but the best from these high-end watchmakers, so the least they can do is stand behind their products for an extended period.
For this reason, Omega upgraded its warranty to a 5-year term since 2018, whereas Tudor's 5-year warranty has been effective since early 2020.
You probably won't need such a long warranty since most fabrication defects should be apparent within a year or two, but it does show that both watchmakers are confident about the quality of their products.
If you're going strictly for brand recognition and want a status symbol, the Omega Seamaster is the obvious choice. Not only is Omega a bigger and more recognizable brand, but the Seamaster was also used by James Bond in several films.
This means that you get a historical watch from a reputable brand that will get compliments from collectors and non-collectors. Omega even released limited-edition James Bond Seamasters, but they all sold out within hours.
On the other hand, Tudor is a brand that's respected and beloved by watch enthusiasts, but it's pretty much unbeknownst to the rest of the population. However, this shouldn't deter you from getting the Black Bay unless you absolutely want a status symbol.
Get the Seamaster if:
get the black bay if: