Why I Bought It: Tudor Pelagos
We drove all the way to Basel from Warsaw in my friend’s little Skoda, stayed in Zurich, and drove 40 km each day to attend what was the greatest (and biggest) watch gathering in the world. My first Basel was an experience but I’ll spare you my memories and jump straight to one other important happening that year: the return of a noble brand.
After years of living in the shadows, Tudor was experiencing a glorious comeback. The company was established by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf back in the 1950s, and for decades built affordable watches made with (older sibling) Rolex quality – and sometimes even some parts.
Then, like in a story with no apparent ending, Tudor was consumed by fog and darkness, only to return from the ashes in 2010. Within a small booth next to “the crown” Tudor emerged as a proper watchmaker, presenting the Heritage Chrono model based on colorful “Homeplate” chronographs of the 1970s. It was, and still is, a gorgeous watch backed by a great little advertising movie with a Porsche 917 and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s über hit “Heard it Through the Grapevine” playing in the background.
In fact, it was so good that I ending up buying a Heritage Chrono. In the following years, Tudor’s comeback became even fresher with great new pieces led first and foremost by the one we all know all too well: the Black Bay.
Some say it might be the best affordable, mid-level diver’s watch made today. It is Tudor’s bestseller and over the years it has come out in variety of versions, sizes, materials, and complications.
Just recently, during Watches and Wonders 2022, Tudor presented the very latest Black Bay: the Pro with a GMT function, designed like a vintage Rolex Explorer II “Freccione.” I however love the other Tudor model more.
The Pelagos was Tudor’s underground hit back in 2012 when it was launched in two dial (and bezel) colors – black and blue – with a solid titanium case and bracelet, and water resistant to 500 meters (1,640 ft). Why was it an underground hit? Simply because it was presented alongside the first Black Bay, which pretty much stole all the glory with its vintage charm and details.
The Pelagos was (and is) a modern take on a true diver’s watch – a proper tool watch.
Tudor Pelagos: built with purpose
No-nonsense design, details, and functions drew me to the Pelagos ever since I laid my eyes on it a good 10 years ago. While the Black Bay is certainly a pretty watch, the Pelagos was made with purpose, so no single part on it exists merely for looks.
Take the case for example. It has been crafted in Grade 2 titanium, a light, stealthy, gray metal that adds a technical feel to the watch. Here it’s been fully satin-brushed, including the meticulously beveled lugs, pointy crown guard, and a solid case back. The same finishing is also found on the solid Oyster bracelet that tapers from 22 mm at the lugs down to 20 mm at the clasp. And here is where the plot thickens.
Tudor Pelagos: it’s all in the clasp
Tudor equipped the Pelagos bracelet with what has to be the best diver’s watch clasp available. It’s made of titanium with some steel and ceramic parts for better longevity. What makes it so special, though, is the superbly clever micro-adjustment.
As it is a proper tool watch, the clasp was designed to be easily extended in four increments of two millimeters each. The fourth increment is where the genius lies: it has been constructed using a spring that allows for a flexible fit of the bracelet if you like to wear it tight like I do. It flexibly expands when your wrist swells a bit like in the heat of summer, for example. And I guess it would come in handy worn over a diving suit. Oh, and there is a traditional diver’s extension too.
Speaking of diving, one element of this type of a watch that is of key significance is the dial. This is where Tudor took the only inspiration from the past for this watch: in the use of the brand’s legendary “snowflake.” The rectangular tip of the hour hand really does kind of resemble a real snowflake.
There are also rectangular hour markers on the dial, placed within a lightly angled chapter ring for minutes. Both those and the hands have been generously filled with Super-LumiNova. There is also lume on the bezel, all of which make the watch glow like a torch – really one of the strongest lumes out there, bright green and long-lasting.
Tudor Pelagos goes in-house
When Tudor introduced the Pelagos in 2012 it was fitted with an ETA automatic movement. In 2015 that all changed in favor of a new manufacture movement, Caliber MT5612. I am not saying an in-house movement is by definition better then a reliable and proven outsourced one, but in this case it is.
Caliber MT5612 comes with a variety of improved features, including a 70-hour power reserve, silicon balance spring, a 4 Hz balance wheel protected under a full bridge, efficient automatic winding, and a quick-set date. Sure, the new caliber made the case thicker by 0.5 mm, but that is barely noticeable, and it remains a fair price to pay for a superior engine.
Why I bought the Tudor Pelagos
I purchased a Pelagos because it is a superior tool watch. Which is what I look for in a diver’s watch, even though I have never dived, not once in my life.
While this kind of timepiece is often made just to look good, Tudor built a watch that first and foremost does the work. It is “form follows function” at its best, with every single bit of the watch designed for a practical and useful reason.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong about pampered details, polished edges, fancy bits and bobs, and all the design charm needed to make a watch look good. I get all that. It is just that a diver’s watch to my taste (again, a full-time land animal) is a tool that I could wear to a pub just as easily as deep underwater.
Wearing my Pelagos makes me want to do the latter quite often, and if it wasn’t for my great respect for the deep blue, I’d probably already have done it.
I love how Tudor approaches its different watches individually, offering something for pretty much every taste. I bought the Pelagos and quickly formed a bond for life, in good times and in bad.
Titanium does scratch, so it even already has some scars. I cherish these.
For more information, please visit www.tudorwatch.com/en/watch-family/pelagos.
Quick Facts Tudor Pelagos
Case: 42 x 14.3 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber MT5612, officially certified C.O.S.C. chronometer, 70-hour power reserve, silicon hairspring, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
* This article was first published 21 May 2022 at Why I Bought It: Tudor Pelagos