Tudor Pelagos Watch Review

Tudor Pelagos Watch Review

Tudor Pelagos Watch-7

It was perhaps a few years ago that I noticed my fellow watch lovers speaking more and more about Tudor watches. It got me quite curious, because before that the brand had one main image - baby Rolex. My own experience with Tudor timepieces is limited, and for good reason - they aren't officially sold in the United States. I am not really sure why that is, but it is likely a strategic decision by Tudor's parent company Rolex.

True enough, many people in the US don't even know about Tudor and if they do they aren't aware that Tudor watches are owned and made by Rolex. The main difference between Tudor and Rolex watches is that Rolex watches use in-house Rolex made movements, while Tudor tends to use base Swiss ETA movements. Tudor is also a slightly more entry-level timepiece, but certainly not a low-priced watch. What do they have in common? Well for years Tudor seemed to make "baby Rolex" watches. Meaning slightly less expensive versions of Rolex models with design changes here and there. For example, Rolex has the famous Day-Date watch, and Tudor has the related Date-Day watch (true story). A few years ago Tudor started to do something interesting, and that was to increasingly separate themselves away from Rolex designs and do their own thing.

The Tudor Pelagos (ref 25500TN) is a new for 2012 Tudor watch which incorporates some Tudor heritage, but is very much a new design. It shows exactly what Tudor is all about and how the brand will exist next to, and not under Rolex in the future - at least that seems to be the idea. The Tudor Pelagos in short is a very modern diver with a straight-forward tool watch look and feel. Fit and finish is great, but this is a watch that you really only start to truly appreciate after you wear it. That's because this - in most all ways - is a true professional piece and not a pretty lifestyle watch. The Tudor Pelagos is handsome but it isn't sexy. It's like a trained dog, perhaps not something the girls will go wild for, but smart and reliable.

Tudor Pelagos Watch-24

Tudor Pelagos Watch-17

Comparing the Tudor Pelagos to the Rolex Submariner is a logical thing to do as they are both dive watches made under the same roof(s). True enough, Tudor dials and cases are made by the same workers, designers, and machines that make Rolex cases and dials. They are however just as different as any two dive pieces in the incredibly populated place that is the dive watch market. The price difference between the two is also about $4,000.

I wasn't around when the original Rolex Submariner came out a few generations ago. But I know enough about its history to suggest something about the Tudor Pelagos. If you look at the Rolex Submariner and Tudor Pelagos next to each other I think you might agree that the Tudor Pelagos is a sort of 21st century Submariner from the start. We all know and admire the Submariner for its history and enduring design. It went from tool watch diver to almost a dress watch (with a price increase compared to the original to match). That was due to a combination of luck, lack of many market competitors at the time, and a lot of hard work by Rolex. Though like I said, the Submariner had a relatively humble beginning. For me, the Tudor Pelagos is like a thematic "redo" of the Submariner if the Submariner was originally released today. It uses more modern materials and is a bit larger, but in a sense it really goes back to the core of what a good purposeful timepiece family starts with.

Tudor Pelagos Watch-1

Tudor Pelagos Watch-22

At the same time that Tudor announced the modern looking Pelagos, they also announced the vintage looking Heritage Black Bay. Two dive watches in the same year with the same movement, but with designs separated by time and demographic. The Heritage Black Bay doesn't do a thing for me, while I am growing very fond of "butch," which is the name I've given to the Tudor Pelagos. "Pelagos," to me, just sounds too pelagic. And are you ready for me to get super nerdy? OK good. The pelagic zone is a section of the ocean's water column closer to the bottom of the sea which starts at about 3.68 kilometers under water. It goes down to about 11 kilometers deep (where applicable). Under the pelagic zone is the benthic/demersal zone, which is the very bottom of the sea. Why do I grace you with this esoteric oceanographic information? Because the Tudor Pelagos diver is named after the pelagic region, but is only water resistant to 500 meters. So exposed in water, the Tudor Pelagos will never actually be able to be in the pelagic region unless it is strapped to James Cameron in a submersible. Then again, neither will any human being, able to wear it. Should we forgive Tudor for this purely technical naming mistake? Of course we will, but you know... I had to mention it.

As I keep saying, the Tudor Pelagos was created to be a very good dive watch, and by measuring the features of its design and functions it certainly is. I will start with the basics, the finely milled case is 42mm wide in titanium (no Rolex watches are) and is water resistant (again) to 500 meters. In addition to titanium there is some Steelinox in the case (probably for parts of the deployant and inside the case). The case has an automatic helium release valve, and an impeccable rotating diver's bezel. I will venture to say that the clicking action when rotating the bezel is actually better than a Submariner. Both watches feature ceramic bezel inserts but the Tudor Pelagos has a more austere looking matter ceramic bezel. The numerals and markers in the bezel are likewise lumed... and the lume is of the highest quality in my experience.

Tudor Pelagos Watch-14

Tudor Pelagos Watch-15

Tudor Pelagos Watch-16

I can't say enough good things about the quality of the case. The angles are so precise and the polishing is so good, it just sort of makes fun of others that are made on less sophisticated machines. Then again, backed with the power of the industrial wonder that is Rolex, Tudor is sort of cheating. A careful inspection of the case allows you to see these details and the precision of the CNC machines used to cut the cases. Look for example at the tiny, but perfect "teeth" around the edge of the bezel.

The dial has a flat AR coated sapphire bezel over it which allows for a clear view of the dial when looking at it straight on. AR coating is applied to only the bottom of the crystal I believe. The dial is a high-contrast black and white multi-level face with large hands and hour indicators. Tudor aficionados will recognize the historic "snowflake" hour hand design. The design of the hands and hour markers marginally reminds me of the angular dial of the Sinn U1. Though, this is a very different dial on the Tudor Pelagos. What you have is hour indicators and hands that look like filled in, blocky, non-showy versions of those on a Submariner. Lume coats all the hours and hour markers and is excellent in its bright blue color. I like that there is a lumed point on the seconds hand and that the dial is very useful with full minute markers but nothing unnecessary. Good to have the date as well. It must have been a tough choice to be so "utilitarian," but Tudor opted for a 100% monochromatic dial without a single "accent" color to spoil the tool watch feel. The more I look at the Pelagos the more I think it is like the Submariner's brother that goes home at night to work out, rather than out to party.

Tudor Pelagos Watch-9

Tudor Pelagos Watch-19

Compared to the Rolex Submariner, the Tudor Pelagos is a bit larger like I said at 42mm (compared to 40mm), but still looks very reasonable on the wrist. It is neither too small nor too large. Inside the Pelagos, is Tudor's regulated version of the Swiss ETA 2824 automatic. This is probably the most common movement in three-hand Swiss dive watches. Nothing fancy, just pure functionality.

The Tudor Pelagos comes with both a rubber strap and titanium bracelet - and I will end my review by discussing this important topic. Arguably the most interesting and innovative part of the Tudor Pelagos is the deployant clasp. While Rolex has its Glide-Lock system on the Submariner, the Pelagos has a new experimental system that has yet to have a fancy name. It is both a micro-adjust system as well as a diver's extension, and it is rather cool. So what does our spring-loaded friend do? Well if you look at the clasp bottom you'll see an exposed strip with a little metal indicator. That tells you whether the deployant is in one of three locked positions, or in the spring position. The three locked positions offer three easy to change microadjust spots, and the spring position basically is like a spring-style extension that opens as you pull it and has the springs pull it back tautly.

Tudor Pelagos Watch-20

Tudor Pelagos Watch-23

Tudor uses two springs and the action is very good. They neither feel too tight or too loose. They are also locked to ostensibly prevent them from pulling too far and damaging the coils. That should translate into many years of worry-free use. I don't think that Tudor intends for people to use the spring system all the time, but rather that it serve as the diver's extension for the most part. The entire system is polished, intuitive, and overall well-engineered. Even if you don't have much use for it, you have to give a thumbs up to its existence.

The rubber strap is simple and satisfying. High-grade rubber that fits the case well connecting to the lug end-pieces for a gapless connection with the case. The titanium buckle is shaped to look like the top of the Tudor shield logo. One downfall of this is that it is a bit sharp to the touch with those pointed edges. Tudor also supplies an extra rubber strap extension for making it longer to use with diving suits. Just a lot of well thought-out features that in many instances feels more German than it does Swiss.

Tudor Pelagos Watch-27

The Rolex DNA in today's Tudor watches runs deep in a very good way. Having said that, Tudor watches are finally something different. Less classic, more sporty, and more youth-driven. Still, while the Submariner exists in a world all by itself, the Tudor Pelagos exists in a world that necessarily has the Submariner. Tudor is trying to be a more serious brand and I like the direction they are taking (though they really need a new website). For the most part they are no longer a baby-Rolex brand - at least models like the Tudor Pelagos aren't. I say that because you can own both a Pelagos and Submariner (or Deepsea) and find occasion to wear them both. I would also venture to say that Tudor is ripe for presence in the United States. I have a feeling it is coming soon, and even Rolex confirms that discussions have been made and something is (perhaps) in the works. Having said that, US price (even though you can't buy the watch here) is $4,140. Now why would they have a US price if it wasn't going to be sold here...?

Necessary Data
>Brand: Tudor
>Model: Pelagos
>Price: $4,140
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: Absolute tool watch lover who secretly loves the idea that a rather nondescript timepieces comes form the same place Rolexes do.
>Best characteristic of watch: Well-conceived and meticulously designed diver with almost no technical flaws that hearkens to what the original Submariner once aspired to be.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Not a showy watch for mainstream timepiece buyers looking for something to boast about. Or maybe that is its best part?

This review was done in part of special Tudor coverage partnership with our friends @ Watchonista - where the review initially debuted here.

  • Zeitblom

    Surprisingly attractive. A much better deal than that tired old submariner.

  • http://gerikson.com/blog/ gerikson

    Nice review and good overview of current Tudor trends.

  • Ulysses31

    It’s really amazing that the same parent company could come up with such a different kind of watch.  The dull matte bezel, dial and case are beautiful.  The precision with which this watch has been hewn from metal is nothing short of impressive.  Easy to read, modern design, nothing stuffy about it like your typical Rolex.  No superfluous bling needed here; it makes a statement by its mere existence.  Most wouldn’t recognise the brand and I think that’s part of the appeal – it stands up on merit alone and not an over-inflated reputation.  I’d love to own one of these.

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  • DenesAlbert

    “Pelagos” actually means sea in ancient Greek.

    • Panagiotis


    • Panagiotis

      DenesAlbert Sorry i hit “post” too soon :) Pelagos is actually still used in Modern Greek and it means Sea like you said, but as a body of water that it smaller than the major “seas” where it can be found. For example the Ionion Sea (between Greece and Italy) is an example of Pelagos, that is also part of the Mediterranean Sea–a much bigger body of water! :) You could say that Ocean>Sea>Pelagos.
      Funny enough there are Pelagi (plural of Pelagos) with really deep waters in excess of 2-3,000m, even in Greece so size in not an idication of depth.

      • DenesAlbert

        Panagiotis DenesAlbert  
        Thanks for confirming this.

  • DangerussArt

    Adds to the “want list”.  I love everything about this watch. Especially that’s it’s not a Submariner. I’ll spend the extra $4K on another watch than on “prestige”. Many people assume a Rolex is a fake anyway.

  • JonnyD

    A very well machined piece, looks really sharp with a legible dial. The rubber strap suits it too. The only aspect I dislike is that snowflake hour hand. I prefer my hour hands to be a longer.

  • DrMcRoberts

    I am fortunate to live in Canada. So I just bought the Pelagos last week. According to the salesman, a lot of Americans made the trip to Montreal to get a hold of a Pelagos since its debut. The more I wear it, the more I love it. In my line of work, I get to pass from daylight to dark often and really admire the great lume on the watch. Also, for my wrist, the perfect adjustement is on the spring position…All in all, a very satisfying buy!

  • TheBigOldDog

    You can see the direct line from the vintage Rose Tudor Submariner to the Pelagos. Reminds me of a Saying F. Ross Johnson had when he ran RJR Nabisco: “Some genius invented the Oreo. We’re just living off of the inheritance”

  • DG Cayse

    Its a winner.

  • Kris C

    Rticle already contains my comment, that were the logo scrubbed off and I had to guess the origin, my first thought would be German. Assuming I didn’t immediately recognize the snowflake setup as well.
    Quite nice, I am a fan.

  • pkansa

    I’m glad to see that the bezel is lumed – in those first pics, it just looks like another flat, printed bezel insert.  Given the lume, I’m guessing it’s ceramic?
    Also, I really like the insets / cutouts on the chapter ring – another nice bit of depth in a watch you might otherwise assume is a boring single-tone piece.

  • Panagiotis

    I tried the watch on and i really liked it! It is definitely understated but i think that a hint of bling could have elevated it to more of an all-purpose watch. Maybe a shiny ceramic bezel or a few carefully placed polished details…?
    I don’t think it would lose its macho appeal and it would stand out better against more Germanic offerings as Kris pointed out. That being said i wanted to like the BB more but this litte guy has won me over–bling-free though it may be…;)

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  • OmarB

    Ariel:  Thank you for the review.  After saving for some time and selling my two decent watches, I recently bought a Pelagos and have no regrets.  It’s a joy to wear and will probably be my “one good watch” for a very long time.    
    I have two questions:  Your review notes that the Pelagos is made with Rolex machinery and by Rolex workers.  Some in forums say that modern-day Tudors are made with different machinery and that the operation is separate than Rolex’s.  Can there be any truth to those statements?  Although we know that Tudor is Rolex owned, I see nothing online that can confirm or deny that Tudor’s are in fact made by the same machines and workers that make Rolex watches.
    I also wonder if you know whether Tudor finishes and/or modifies the 2824 movement.  Some say that Tudor buys the top-grade movement from ETA, sticks a Tudor rotor on it and calls it a day.  Others say that Tudor modifies the movement in-house.  There seems to be no consistent info and nobody can cite to any sources.
    Not that this minutiae matters  – I would have bought the watch in any scenario.  But one wonders after making the investment and wearing the watch every day!
    Thanks in advance-

  • Lesthepom

    Got one last week overall I am very impress the lume has to be the stand out featur for me closely followed by several other features
    It fits well on my skinny wrist of 18.5cm the finish is fault less I have only one small problem it comes supplied with a rubber dive strap but the instructions tell you it must be fitted by a service center not verry convenient for a spure of the moment strap change I have read other reviews and it seames to be a common complaints the titanium bracelet is almost impossible to remove your self having sead that I do prefer the bracelet to the rubber and as close as I live to the barrier reef I am as likely to need the rubber bracelet as I am to dive
    If you are thinking about getting your hands on one of these think no longer just do it

  • ZL

    If someone gave me a Submariner, I might sell it, buy one of these, and keep the change. I say submAriner, incidentally.

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  • Colonelkez1

    A very interesting review. Very thorough, covering all aspects of the watch. I spotted a Tudor Pelagos for sale in the UK via watch-finder and so part ex-ed my Ball Fireman II and my Tag F1 Gulf Oil in for it. I have never regretted it for a second. It is a lovely watch that brings me joy every time I look at it. My wife thinks I’m a sad t**t, but she simply doesn’t understand the love between a man and his watch.
    My Tudor happily co-exists with an Omega Planet Ocean, Breitling Aerospace, Oris TT3 and several other watches.
    Life is sweet, as diversity rules.

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  • Humanfactor

    I tried on on today here in Boston. I really love its matte black appearance, very non-nondescript in the best way… those snowflake hands pop. So from a style perspective I love it.  Two things I noticed, the bezel seemed to have a little play in it. My expectations was that once set there would be nil play. The other thing is the ETA 2824 movement. It is a great tried & true workhorse, but at $4G’s I was expecting something a bit different. However, this design is very, very nice.

  • Lesthepom

    Humanfactor  Hi as you can see by my earlier post I have had my Pelagos for over a year now I have had no problems with it the bezel is still good no play may be you just got a bad one to look at may be try another one. I have here’d the 2824 is modified by Tudor but I cannot fined an official explanation of what they do to it may be Arial would know ??? and the lume on it still makes me smile when I enter a dark room from out side I am sure  it has a battery in it . I would buy another one in a hart beat if I lost this one

  • Humanfactor

    Lesthepom Humanfactor It is a beauty… love that matte black finish… I’m sure I would greatly enjoy wearing this watch. Regarding the bezel, I’m sure the play I noticed was probably acceptable. I had a notion it would not budge. I’m sure my expectations are a bit unreasonable. Regarding the ETA 2824, I believe ETA has 3 versions of this movement each with a different quality rating. I have to believe Rolex/Tudor would be using the best version. Great to know you love it !

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  • trod1072

    I know this thread is a bit old but I would like to add a couple comments. A Tudor rep recently spoke with my Tourneau sales rep and told her Tudor cases are made in the same factory that makes Breitling cases. Again, this is coming directly from a Tudor rep. This makes me sigh because of the amount of misinformation related to Tudor. So when you pay big bucks for a Tudor, think twice. This of course does not speak for the new Pelagos. People with limited incomes (I.e.me) should dig deep before pulling the trigger. The current idea that certain components are made by Rolex is questionable .. And with all that I still want a Tudor.

  • DrMcRoberts

    This info seems so wrong on many levels…and if correct raises a lot of questions …
    I would like to get the opinion of ABTW editors, as they are much more into the know than perhaps a Tudor rep…

  • trod1072

    I also would like to hear their opinion. watch companies that design and manufacture their components are proud of this. Many other watch companies hide behind marketing. In the end the consumer makes the decision as to what to buy but the consumer has the right to know.

  • Lesthepom

    DrMcRoberts  Arial has had the grand tour of Rolex and I am sure I saw some were he had sead Tudor parts were being maid alongside the Rolex ones so maybe ha can answer this one I will ask the question in the ASK US section and see if I get a response. Tudor or Breitling it is still an awesome watch and I would still by another