Tudor just released a new version of the Tudor Fastrider Black Shield, this time in a less wild, but no less bold, monochromatic look. This model was designed after the new Ducati xDiavel, a suitably awesome looking bike which sports a similar finish. Like all Black Shield models, its pièce de résistance is its super tough ceramic case.
The Tudor Fastrider Black Shield is, unlike many other popular Tudor models, a watch that belongs squarely in the present. Even in these times when vintage watches are extremely popular, it’s crucial for brands like Tudor to also maintain a solid lineup of contemporary models. That’s not only because not all watch collectors are into vintage styling, but also because the company must continue to innovate, both horologically, like with their new movements, but also stylistically. The Black Shield may not do anything particularly radical, design wise, but it does set itself apart from other Tudor chronographs, like the Chrono Blue and the regular Fastrider.
The most remarkable aspect of a Black Shield, however, is clearly its case. All feature a ceramic monobloc middle case and all in this nice matte black finish. Ceramic is a wonderful material for watch cases, particularly if you like black watches, because not only is it extremely scratch resistant, the black coloration will never come off.
If the new Black Bay with black bezel is the Black Bay Black, should this be called the Black Shield Black? Well, I’ll leave those questions to the forums, but I have noticed something intriguing here. This watch features a black ceramic case, a black dial, a tachymeter bezel and a chronograph. Is it possible that Tudor was targeting the far more expensive Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon watches? There’s no way to say for sure, and the massive price differential likely means few will cross shop the two, but perhaps they ought to be looked at together.
The dial, although not particularly vintage, is certainly not out of line with Tudor’s design credentials. It’s a little more stylized in some areas than Tudor’s more tool watch designs, but legibility is not sacrificed. It’s particularly difficult to make a chronograph, especially one with three subdials and a date complication, easy to read, but Tudor has done a good job here.
That legibility is mainly the product of an extremely high contrast between white accents, not all luminescent, and the black dial. It is, nonetheless, fairly busy, which is pretty much inescapable given this movement (Valjoux 7753). The dial’s texture itself is not entirely flat black as the subdials receive a subtle black guilloche finish. Even more subtle is the sunburst finish to the rest of the dial, which you’ll need bright, direct light to appreciate. In most lighting it appears matte.
The hands are among the Black Shield’s most interesting features and bring some artistic flourishes to the watch. The minute and hour hands are partially skeletonized, allowing the owner to see through to the subdials underneath, although this is more for looks than utility. The chronograph seconds, as well as all subdial hands, have white tips, likely to make them more legible. The main hands have luminous paint on the last half or third of them to provide similar clarity. Perhaps most intriguing are the diamond shapes throughout, like on the counterbalance of the seconds hand.
This area of the dial is very interesting. For one thing, it features the name of the particular watch quite prominently, which is atypical. For another, although you can’t easily see it in this photo, the TUDOR GENEVE area is actually applied and apparently PVD coated black (or perhaps also ceramic?). It’s also somewhat 3 dimensional, with the GENEVE section sloping downward from the flat TUDOR area, not unlike a desk nameplate. But I think the best aspect of this view is the applied Tudor Shield logo. I think it looks great (although I wish it were luminescent), but mostly I just enjoy the fact that the shield on the Black Shield is white.
I find the applied hour markers particularly cool. They’re solid white, like the shield, and very three dimensional in appearance. The subdials each receive what appears to be an applied border. It’s very subtle from most angles, given that they’re solid black against solid black, but it’s a nice touch The date is extremely subtle, just a tiny porthole between 4:00 and 5:00. It’s not particularly difficult to read but it’s very out of the way. The lume isn’t bad at all for a watch in this genre, particularly against the black dial, although it’s unfortunate that Tudor didn’t take the opportunity to add lume to the hour markers and shield. As usual, neither the color or intensity of the lume has been altered in this photo.
The 42mm case of the Tudor Fastrider Black Shield is its most crucial feature, thanks to its ceramic composition. Ceramic cases offer a big advantage for watch collectors because they are much, much harder than a comparable steel case. They are far harder to scratch, and this is especially true when comparing them to their most direct analog, steel watches with a black coating. Black coatings can be made very tough, but they are not invincible, and with a serious enough impact the black coating can be removed in a scratch, revealing the shiny steel behind it. This black case, however, is not a coating and cannot be separated from any other part of the case. Thus, the Black Shield will remain new looking for a very long time. It’s not the only interesting feature, however. Notice this shape on the 9:00 side of the case, which strongly reminds me of the Mazda rotary logo. This is actually where the date is set. Using an included red Tudor shield-shaped pusher device, you push the center of the logo to advance the date. Now, in general, I always prefer to have a date set from the crown, but I will say that Tudor’s implementation is much better than many others I’ve seen. Generally the pusher is tiny and recessed and the tool is steel, which looks nice, but poses a hazard to the case if you get careless. I prefer the large red plastic one it comes with. It’s easier to hold, harder to lose and is unlikely to ever scratch the case (this is one instance in which plastic is probably superior to steel). The target is also very large, and, thanks to a concave portion at the center, the pusher will slide into the perfect spot every time.
The crown is emblazoned with the the shield logo. The shield logo is indeed best associated with Tudor’s contemporary pieces, like this one, and it was obviously the way to go on a watch named the Black Shield. The crown screws down and while the pushers do not, it is rated for 150 meters, so with the rubber strap (this one is on leather) it should be plenty good for swimming. The black strap that it comes with accents the watch well, particularly with the white stitch. As is virtually always the case with Tudors, a solid back hides the movement, in this case a Tudor Calibre 7753, which is based on the Valjoux/ETA 7753.
The Tudor Fastrider Black Shield is one of the edgiest and most contemporary designs from Tudor and it needs to be put in context. First, how does this new model, in black and white, compare to the other Black Shields? In my opinion, this is the Black Shield to get. The other two are great in their own right, one of which even has a bit of a vintage flair to it, but the monochrome incarnation is the most serious of them and has more of a tool watch feel to it. It’s also much more versatile. The more interesting comparison, I think, would be with the Omega Dark Side of the Moon. Of course, it can never be a direct comparison because not only does the Omega have an in-house 9300 movement, but it also costs much, much more. And yet, I can’t help but feel that the same collector could wear both. They’re not really all that similar to each other, but blacked out ceramic chronographs are not altogether common, at least not yet. The Black Shield is a great looking sports watch, but it’s surprisingly tough too. Hardened cases are becoming more common, with options from Bremont, Sinn and Damasko for instance. It’s nice to see Tudor’s entrant into this category, and opting for ceramic over hardened steel makes it somewhat more unique in its price point. I’d love to see a Black Shield three hander to round out the ceramic options, but that seems improbable. Right now, if you’re looking for the toughest Tudor watch you can get, it’s probably either this or the Pelagos, although the titanium middle case of the Pelagos is more vulnerable to scratches (on the other hand, it has much better water resistance). If you happen to be lucky enough to have a Ducati Dieval, however, this is a no brainer.