I was hooked on the Tudor Pelagos LHD watch the first time I saw it in person. This review is going to be mostly very positive because I simply have a lot of good things to say about this timepiece. When Tudor errs, I’m happy to point it out, and regularly “check” the brand when I feel that its marketing or product design choices aren’t on par with what the storied brand deserves. When Tudor gets it right however, they produce something like the Pelagos LHD, which is a truly phenomenal modern diving sports watch.
Let’s first talk a bit about the modern history of the Pelagos and how the Pelagos LHD fits into the Tudor Pelagos family, which includes a few models. In short, the Tudor Pelagos LHD is distinct from the “standard” Pelagos models in mostly superficial ways – but meaningful ways. If the standard Pelagos is your awesome, modern dive watch with a no-nonsense stance of functionality and design, then the Pelagos LHD is the slightly quirkier model for seasoned enthusiasts that delivers all the same functionality and utility as the standard Pelagos, but with just a bit more personality.
Tudor originally introduced the Pelagos dive watch collection in 2013 (aBlogtoWatch review here). To call the watch truly modern is a bit of a misnomer because Tudor clearly pulled a lot of design language from its past. Tudor and Rolex are part of the same foundation, and it has long since been clear that Tudor is the slightly more risk-welcoming arm of the group, and of course offers more affordable watches. People often thought of the Pelagos as the modern Submariner. In a lot of real ways they are competitors, even though the Submariner at retail can be about twice as much money. There needs to be that Rolex premium after all.
Look at some vintage dive watches from Tudor and you’ll see where the “snowflake” hour hand and marker designs come from. This was from mostly the 1970s, I believe, when Tudor was trying to take Rolex’s signature dive watch dial design and modify it a bit so that there was less “model confusion.” Now watches like the Tudor Heritage Black Bay as well as the Pelagos prominently feature the block snowflake-style hour hand, and accompanying dial design elements.
Other case design elements are borrowed from vintage Tudor designs, but mostly in cosmetic ways. I say that to explain that Tudor wasn’t held back by the need to pay homage to its history while developing the Pelagos. Rather, when they needed to figure out stuff like the design of the lugs, crown guards, hour markers, etc., they simply pulled from their history. All these arguably cosmetic elements (which can be designed in a slew of ways) are the skin on a very modern and solid tool watch.
The original Pelagos watches had a limited lifespan because just a few years later Tudor decided to replace the Swiss ETA-sourced automatic movements with those produced in-house by Tudor. In 2015, aBlogtoWatch reviewed the Tudor Pelagos 25600 TB watch in blue, that sported the in-house made caliber MT5612 automatic movement. In addition to the new movement, the case was made a hair thicker, and the dial text changed a bit. The price of the Pelagos went up a few hundred dollars, but is still considered a very good value compared to the competition.
The Tudor Pelagos LHD was debuted (here on aBlogtoWatch) as a mid-cycle release toward the end of 2016. “LHD” stood for “left-handed,” meaning that the crown was placed on the left side of the case, versus the right side. Many left-handed people (not myself actually) wear watches on their right arm, given that the crown would be in the “right place” facing the wrist. Most left-handed watches are in fact not worn on the right hand, but rather on the left hand (as right-handed watches are) because people either like the look of the crown facing the direction, or because it increases wearing comfort as the crown is not in a position to dig into your wrist.
Tudor claims that the impetus for the creation of the Pelagos LHD was in honor of some models they produced in the 1970s for left-handed divers in the French Navy. As someone who is left-handed (and dives), I’ve never actually considered taking an automatic watch off to wind once in a while a big deal, but it is a good thing to have watches out there with crowns on either side of the case. I say this to suggest that the left-handed position of the crown on the case has no functional value for me, but simply makes the watch a bit more unique among other Pelagos models – offering valuable personality that us watch nerds so very much enjoy in the watches we love.
Another cosmetic touch on the LHD which I really enjoy is the red “Pelagos” text on the dial. This is actually ironic because I recently criticized Rolex for doing the same thing on the new Sea-Dweller 126600. I find the red text to be a bit more distracting on the Sea-Dweller, and I also felt that it was too much of a direct nod to a vintage Sea-Dweller that is valuable today merely because it is less common. The 43mm wide Sea-Dweller is a cool watch for sure, but it doesn’t actually innovate – at least not as much as the Pelagos. So the red text on the Pelagos is not only a bit more aesthetically attractive in my opinion, but also feels like a less obvious nod to the past and doesn’t seem to try to define the watch as much in the Pelagos as it does the new Sea-Dweller. Again, it wouldn’t stop me from really enjoying the Sea-Dweller, but when it comes to $10,000 plus luxury watches, we are entitled to be extremely picky.
What also captured my attention with the Pelagos LHD is the beige-colored hour markers, bezel markers, and hands. The off-white look is a bit easier on the eyes than the stark white of the standard Pelagos models, but retains an excellent level of contrast with the matte black dial – making for very good legibility. More so, the combination of black, titanium gray, and beige colors, in my opinion, works together very well.
The dial of the Pelagos is really where you can make the most distinction points between it and a Rolex Submariner. The Pelagos dial is very useful, very legible, and also excellently designed for visibility as a dive watch. The more one uses a Pelagos, the more I believe one comes to appreciate the utility of the dial in a variety of lighting and reading environments. The flat, AR-coated sapphire crystal allows for excellent legibility even at extreme angles, and overall dial materials and proportions make for a really good tool.
I keep saying “tool” over and over again in this review because I am trying to reinforce the point that the Pelagos is so successful in my opinion because it is first a tool, and then a luxury object of desire. Watches like the Heritage Black Bay are less about being tools and more about offering a “look.” The Black Bay is an excellent timepiece choice for a lot of people, but I feel if you are interested in dive watches for their utility, and appreciate a series of design touches related to that, then the Pelagos is far and away the path to take at Tudor.