Even without being a certified diver, dive watches definitely have their appeal. Most people like them for their durability, their ability to allow you to pretend to be a certain secret agent, and many have incredibly attractive designs. I will say my desire for a dive watch is to have something that I can wear with true abandon. For me, that means during runs, swim workouts, and other situations where wearing the main love of your collection would not be in your best interest, whether it is for monetary reasons or durability reasons (or both). Or maybe if you do only want one watch, and want all of these things, and for it to be a mechanical timepiece, a dive watch is a good bet. Enter the Tudor Pelagos.
With all these things in mind, I think most people automatically think of the epitome of dive watches, the Rolex Submariner. While a great watch, they have become incredibly expensive and extremely difficult to get, especially at reasonable prices. I will also say, every time I have tried on a Submariner, and I have tried on a few (Date, No-Date, Two-Tone, Five Digit Sub, Six-Digit Sub), they have always left me feeling cold. While I can appreciate the quality of the watch, I have never tried one on and wanted to part way with my dollars, whether they are imaginary or actual. However, I have been lusting to have a dive watch. Something that would scratch the itch of a big and unforgiving watch that gave you the feeling of tackling anything you could think of. When the Tudor Pelagos was released in 2012, I thought this would be an amazing watch. Quite the opposite of the Rolex Submariner, every time I have tried one on, I struggled to take it off. I would look at my bank account and try to do the math quickly to decide if I can part with my hard earned dollars to purchase it.
Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I was able to borrow his, so I was able to live vicariously through him for a week. This version is the ETA version from the original release. In 2015, Tudor released the in-house movement black dial version, along with a blue dial. In 2016, they released the LHD version of the watch, which is also a great and unique version of the timepiece. The watch is 42mm wide (measuring the bezel, the case is 41mm), 50mm lug to lug with 22mm lug width. The case is in titanium, with a stainless steel back and clasp on the bracelet, where as the buckle on the rubber strap is titanium, and it features a helium release valve (not that it is practical for most people, but it doesn’t detract from the watch). The bracelet and clasp has been covered at length on other media, but I will agree that it is a great bracelet. The multiple points of adjustment on the clasp is fantastic. My favorite part of the watch is the finish on the titanium case. The case has beautiful contours and bevels, all in a brushed finish, but in different directions to further highlight the lines of the case. Titanium definitely picks up marks, scratches and scuffs much easier than stainless steel. Even though this watch has definitely been used and enjoyed prior to me spending time with it, the various marks the owner has put on it has not taken away from the overall experience and enjoyment of the watch. So no need to worry if you think those marks will bother you, I don’t think they will. If they do, buy a ceramic watch. Despite its larger size, I do find the watch to be incredibly comfortable, even on my 16cm/6.25” wrist.
With that being said, I still have my gripes. Now, I’m not going to go as far as to say the watch is not perfect, and that it has fundamental faults. It doesn’t. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this watch. If you are looking for a great dive watch, for whatever reasons you may have, you should take a look at the Tudor Pelagos, and I do not think you will be disappointed. However, spending time with this watch has reinforced some of my personal preferences.
The time I spent with this watch was my first experience living with a modern diving watch. I have definitely enjoyed certain aspects of the watch. The diving bezel has proved super useful, using it to measure cooking times, or to mark when I started doing a task. Plus they’re just fun to play with. I can appreciate having a larger dial, as this watch is extremely easy to read, and the luminescent hands, markers, and bezel are great looking at night, and have been useful as well. I like having a date window, so no gripes there, and if you are an actual professional saturation diver, I’m sure it is actually useful, as decompression times can be days.
I have never had a watch on my wrist for so long that was also as thick wearing as the Tudor Pelagos. At 14mm thick, this is not terrible by modern standards, but, the watch is also incredibly slab sided. Shirt cuffs meet an abrupt stop sliding down your wrist when they meet this watch. You could argue that this is not the purpose of this watch, which is totally valid, but even in casual environments, I found that even after an hour of wear, I have to be aware of the watch to keep it from unnecessarily banging against things. It also made me aware that wrist fatigue is a real thing. While a fun watch to wear, I found my self wanting to take the watch off after a period of time.
I also do not like watches on bracelets. That may be blaspheme, and they definitely have their appeal, time, and place. For daily wear though, I find bracelets uncomfortable when worn tightly, but when worn loosely, it perpetuates the problem stated above. Unfortunately, I didn’t get time with this watch on the strap, as I think I would enjoy it better. But I do think it would be a waste to purchase such a watch with such a great bracelet only to put it on a rubber strap.
I also realized I prefer what I would call elegant watches. A watch that is elegant to me is something slimmer, of modest size, and stays out of the way of daily life. The watch’s presence may be known, but it doesn’t impose. This watch definitely imposes. While fun, like an incredibly peaty scotch, super dark and strong coffee, or a full bodied cigar, it is easy to grow tired of these things if enjoyed too much. This made me realize the difference between elegant and refined. While I would describe an elegant watch as stated above, the Tudor Pelagos is incredibly refined. It does its intended job incredibly well. The case and bracelet finish is fantastic, and the user experience is great. A watch that is unrefined to me would be something that does not meet these criteria. If the bezel action was terrible, and the case finish was lack luster, then I would say it is unrefined. This watch is most definitely refined, but not elegant.
Finally, something that probably isn’t surprising but often neglected in watch circles discussions is the importance of the overall experience versus more minute details. Sure, the more contemporary version of this watch with an in-house movement may have more appeal to watch enthusiasts, but how much does that really matter? Not once while wearing this watch did I think to myself that it would be better with the in-house movement. I would go so far to say that 98% of the watches experience has to deal with the quality of the watch case, dial and bracelet. While I could appreciate the longer power reserve of the in-house movement, making this a definite contender for a weekend watch, or as I frequently did, a “out and about” watch, the ETA movement inside this version was not a deal breaker in the slightest. Sure, I had to reset it a couple times during my time with it, but I did not begrudge the watch because of it. For me, I think this is something to remember when trying other watches, and remember who you are really wearing them for.
With that being said, this is a very cool watch, and any version that you are considering if you are looking for an unapologetic dive watch, this should be in top consideration. For me, this experience was more about an exercise in further defining my preferences. Would I personally purchase this watch? I am not sure. It is a tough call. Do I want a Tudor Pelagos? Damn right I do. Especially the LHD version, it is just a damn cool watch.
To learn more about Tudor watches, visit http://tudorwatch.com
Many thanks to my friend for letting me borrow his watch. If you would like to send your watch in for review, please contact me here.