A Prototype in Series: Reviewing the UK cheap fake Tudor Black Bay P01

Based on a prototype from the late 1960s, the cheap fake Tudor Black Bay P01 ref.70150 reveals a little-known aspect of the brand’s history. For this feature, originally published in our May-June 2020 issue, we tested the current serial model.
The Tudor Black Bay P01 is shown at right; the “Commando” prototype from the 1950s at left.
History tells us that Tudor supplied the U.S. Navy with divers’ watches as early as the late 1950s. But Reference 7922 wasn’t introduced until 1964 and is considered to be the first dive watch from Tudor. It was water resistant to 100 meters.

“Commando” Was the Codename for a Special Bezel System
Three years later, the Swiss brand began developing a highly functional watch to replace the Oyster Prince Submariner Reference 7928, which was the Navy’s standard watch at that time. The first phase of development led to various prototypes and a patent for an unprecedented function. The ambitious project with the codename “Commando” was never realized, but the plans were carefully preserved in the company’s archives. The novel component was a hinged mechanism on the case that could be unlocked to reset the bezel and locked to secure the bezel in place. Patented in 1968, the hinged mechanism was also intended to simplify maintenance and servicing.

The stainless steel case replica Tudor Black Bay P01 of 2019 (P01 stands for Prototype No. 1) incorporates this system, but not in its complete functionality. It’s primarily based on the locking mechanism, which lets the wearer secure the Black Bay P01’s bidirectional rotatable bezel by operating the hinged mechanism between the strap lugs at the 12. The rotatable bezel can theoretically be used as a divers’ bezel, although the ring wasn’t designed for this purpose. Calibrated for 12 hours with half-hour subdivisions, the bezel clicks into place in 60 increments, i.e., in single-minute steps, and it does so very crisply and accurately in response to slight downward pressure. But users who want to read elapsed time can only read it every minute at 5-minute intervals and the start of a time span.
Here’s how to use the bezel of the Black Bay P01. If you want to measure a short time span, like a brief jog through the park, simply rotate the bezel until its non-luminous triangular marker is opposite the tip of the minutes hand. To read the elapsed time, you’ll need to mentally convert the hour markings on the bezel into 5-minute increments. For a longer interval, like a bike ride or a hike in the mountains, turn the bezel until the triangular marker is opposite the tip of the hour hand. In the same way, the bezel can be used to set a second time zone. In this case, set the corresponding hour marker on the bezel to the marker on the dial and the hour hand.

For any of these actions, raise the hinged mechanism by pressing down between the lugs at the 12. This frees the bezel so you can rotate it in either direction. The correct pressure point is marked on the hinged flap with small grooves. It can be folded back into the locked position by applying slight pressure to the bezel or against the steel connector on the bracelet. This prevents the system from remaining open on the wrist, which can lead to the bezel being accidentally adjusted. The moveable construction also ensures that the Black Bay P01 fits perfectly on every wrist, even though it’s almost 56 mm from strap lugs to strap lugs.
A Modern Movement Behind a Retro Facade
To minimize reflections, the stainless-steel housing is completely satin-finished. Its sporty angular design is slightly sharp-edged near the crown protector, and you can feel this sharpness when you wind the watch manually. To accomplish this task, first unscrew the knurled crown with the Tudor logo from its threaded connection and then turn it. Withdrawn to its middle position and then turned, the crown quickly adjusts the date display, which automatically advances shortly after midnight whenever the watch is running. The modern movement inside the case also allows the date indicator to be corrected at any desired time without jeopardizing the mechanism. This mechanism is no less up-to-date than the state-of-the-art 70-hour power reserve offered by automatic manufacture Caliber MT5612, which is housed behind an opaque screwed back and therefore unfortunately not visible.

The movement, which was originally custom-made for the Pelagos, is the first caliber ever developed by Tudor. It was introduced in 2015 and has been built and assembled in-house ever since. Conceived to tick inside the highly functional Pelagos divers’ watch, this caliber was designed with robustness, durability and reliability in mind. That’s why the large balance with variable inertia and a frequency of 4 Hz (28,800 vibrations per hour) oscillates under a sturdy bridge affixed at two points rather than under a conventional cantilevered balance cock screwed at only one point.
Tudor Caliber MT5612
Furthermore, the balance oscillates together with a silicon hairspring, which is less sensitive than conventional balance springs to external physical influences such as temperature fluctuations, pressure changes, gravity and magnetism. The oscillating system, which is regulated via four screws on the balance wheel, consequently performs with solid chronometer-worthy rates, which we confirmed under laboratory conditions and in a wearing test conducted on the wrist for several weeks. When fully wound and measured on the electronic timing machine and on the wrist, the Tudor Black Bay P01 clone runs with almost no deviation. Its timekeeping strays very slightly into the “minus” column as the tension in its mainspring gradually decreases.

A Combination of Historical Aesthetics and Modern Watchmaking
The manufacture caliber is decorated in the typical style of the Tudor brand. The openworked rotor and the automatic bridge beneath it are satin finished. The plate and the other bridges alternate between polished and sandblasted surfaces and laser-etched details.
Caliber MT5612 indicates the hours, minutes and seconds from the center of the matte black, slightly curved dial. As with all other models in the Black Bay line, the P01 has adopted the characteristic, angular “snowflake” hands, which first appeared in the brand’s catalog in 1969. Together with luminous and variously shaped indexes, the hands guarantee bold contrasts and excellent legibility in both good and poor lighting conditions. The well-chosen light beige color of the luminous material, which is also used on the date disk, underscores this new model’s connection to its history. Thanks to this combination of historical and modern aesthetic codes, the P01 fits perfectly into the Black Bay line, which is much more than a series of identical new editions of models from the past.

The snowflake motif also appears on the underside of the strap, which was developed exclusively for the Swiss automatic movement copy Tudor Black Bay P01. The strap is a rubber-based combination with an element made of brown leather on top. It displays retro charm thanks to its pale contrasting stitching, and the movable lugs more than symbolically establish the connection to the original prototype.

A Cockpit Instrument for Your Wrist: Reviewing the UK Swiss Quality Replica TAG Heuer Autavia WBE5116.FC8266 Calibre 5

For the first time, TAG Heuer replica has introduced a watch without a
stopwatch function in its traditional Autavia line. In this feature from the aaaswiss.me.uk archives, we test whether this chronometer-certified newbie is another winner.
Heuer first built the cheap fake TAG Heuer Autavia WBE5116.FC8266 in 1933 as a stopwatch for motor vehicles and aircraft. This cockpit instrument was attached to the dashboard and was used to measure driving or flight times. The Super Autavia, which came later, combined a time display, stopwatch and rotating bezel in a single instrument, with numerals that look like those on the Autavia Calibre 5, our test watch. In 1962, Heuer introduced a wristwatch chronograph bearing the same name. From the beginning, it was available with various tracks on a rotating bezel, such as 12-hour division markings for a second time zone or 60-minute markers to measure intervals of up to one hour.

Autavia Mixes Vintage and Modern Elements
The year 1969 saw the introduction of the Autavia Chrono-Matic powered by the Calibre 11, which was developed in part by Heuer. It was one of the first automatic chronograph movements in a contemporary tonneau case that featured a window date display at 6 o’clock.
Our test watch is not based on a single earlier model but incorporates a variety of elements like the case of the first chronograph with its wide facets on the lugs, the minutes hand of the Chrono-Matic, and the numerals from the Super Autavia. These are mixed with new elements like the gradient color of the dial (shown here in blue) and older functions like the rotating bezel, which has an updated design. All together this produces an attractive, timeless retro look. Thanks to the luminous numerals, striking hands and anti-glare sapphire crystal, it is easy to read the time, and even the date is readily legible. The bidirectional rotating bezel has a finely divided track, which — along with the lack of luminous coating on the triangle marker — requires some careful attention to read. But since this is not a professional instrument like a dive watch, this is acceptable for a secondary function.

The bezel of the blue dial fake TAG Heuer Autavia inlay is made of scratch-resistant ceramic, which isn’t as rare as it once was, and is extremely advantageous as it resists signs of wear for an extended time. Another positive feature: the bezel ratchets in minute increments, is easy to use and does not slip unintentionally out of place. Also, the extra-large crown that is taken from the cockpit instrument cannot be screwed down and further simplifies operation. The hack mechanism allows the time to be set precisely.

The gradient smoked blue dial shows the Autavia’s modern side. The Calibre 5 movement has the date at 6 o‘clock.
Size, Finishing and Refined Details Enhance Comfort
There’s also good news regarding wearing comfort. The watch measures 42.75 mm across and is therefore the perfect size, isn’t too thick and lies comfortably on the wrist, thanks also to the supple calfskin strap and flat pin buckle. The dark brown strap looks attractive with the blue dial and bezel. And here’s another nice feature: the strap can be easily removed and replaced using a plastic release on the inner side. Other options include a blue or light brown leather strap as well as a metal bracelet and a range of textile straps.

The strap, clasp and steel case TAG Heuer clone watches are all nicely finished. A wheel and a propeller are engraved on the solid caseback as a nod to the origins of the Autavia as an automotive and aviation model. (The “Autavia” name is formed from the beginnings of these two words.) A transparent caseback would have been nice, of course, but the black-enhanced engraving looks great and the movement TAG Heuer calls Calibre 5 is based on a visually unspectacular Sellita SW200, which is structurally almost identical to the ETA 2824. Yet, this robust and reliable automatic movement is even chronometer-certified before it is cased.
Originally TAG Heuer had planned to install its own in-house, carbon composite Isograph hairspring in this model. But this new antimagnetic, temperature-resistant hairspring needed additional, extended testing to ensure perfect function over the long-term and under all conditions. Initially there were models that did not have the new hairspring, and therefore these lacked the “Isograph” label on the dial that was on the prototypes shown at the 2019 exhibitions.

And how precisely does the COSC-certified Autavia run? When measured on our Witschi timing machine, the fully wound watch gained 3.7 seconds per day with a maximum deviation between the various positions of 6.1 seconds. After 24 hours, the amplitude declined by a considerable 49 degrees, and the rate results fell off somewhat, to a gain of 4.6 seconds and a positional difference of 8.3 seconds — quite good results that remain within the standards specified by the chronometer certification agency. Our real-life test on the wrist over several weeks confirmed this with an average of +3 seconds per day. The power reserve of 38 hours, however, reveals that the movement relies on older technology from the 1970s. Modern automatic movements or the improved calibers made by ETA for Swatch Group brands have about double the running time. So, it pays to wear this watch often. But luckily that’s not hard to do, thanks to the comfortable and attractive design. And this copy TAG Heuer Autavia’s reasonable price of $3,100 may make it easier to put this cockpit instrument on your wrist.