Like many younger siblings, Tudor has always fought to step out of the shadow of its big brother—and as the brother in question happens to be Rolex, that’s no mean feat. The brand was created by Rolex founder Hans Wildorf in 1946 as a more affordable alternative, and since then, Tudor has battled hard to find its voice; over the last few years, it really has. The company keeps releasing watches we really want to get our hands on: this time around, it’s the Pelagos.
Since Tudor stopped releasing redialled Submariners and started trying something independent of Rolex, there have been quite a few uninspiring pieces emerging from the younger Swiss brand. Tudor watches have always been well made, there’s no doubt about that, but finding its own design niche has taken a bit of time. The revival of the brand first reared its head with the Heritage Chronograph, a reimagining of a vintage piece based loosely on Rolex’s Daytona. It seems Tudor needed to go backwards before it went forwards, reminding itself what it was all about to give it confidence and direction.
Fast-forward a few years, and the Pelagos was revealed to an impressed public. This is a watch that clearly comes from the Tudor fold, yet is unmistakably unlike anything anyone’s ever seen before. Dressed in titanium, the Pelagos is lightweight (a plus to some, a minus to others), but it’s no delicate flower. Packing a gas escape valve and five hundred metres of water resistance, it’s a proper, no-nonsense diver, and every element of the design tells the same story. The markers are bold and clear (notice the ‘snowflake’ hour hand, a nod to the past), the lume is bright, and the controls are solid. The ceramic bezel is extremely well done, with the markers and numerals depicted in lume that’s as strong as it is on the dial and hands.
Up to now the watch isn’t far from the standard fair, but we haven’t yet touched on the bracelet. It’s also crafted in titanium, is well made and very comfortable. A lot of the comfort is owed to the quick-adjust clasp, which has an ingenious spring and ratchet mechanism that allows for three settings of on-the-fly micro adjustment. Changing the setting is as simple as taking the watch off, pulling a lever in the clasp, sliding it larger or smaller, and releasing. But that’s not all: there’s a forth setting that works in conjunction with the folding dive extension link. It’s a free-floating notch that allows the clasp to expand and contract against a pair of sturdy springs, keeping the watch tight to the wrist no matter how saturated your wetsuit is.
And that’s not the only surprise the watch has in store. Back in the beginning of 2015, Tudor announced that it had created its first in-house calibre: the MT5621. It debuted in a totally new watch, the North Flag—but never being one to miss a trick, the brand also updated its popular diver with the new movement, albeit in a slightly modified version. The self-winding M5612 that powers the Pelagos features hours, minutes and seconds, as well as an instant jumping date complication. And just to add the cherry on top, it also happens to be COSC-certified.
Tudor has always had a bit of trouble setting itself apart from Rolex, but the progress it’s made in recent years has left a real impression with many watch enthusiasts, including us. So if you’re thinking of dropping a wedge of cash on a Rolex diver, make sure you try the Pelagos on for size first. It’s more than worth it.
Watch Spec | Tudor Pelagos
Case: Titanium Dimensions: 42mm dia, 14mm thick Crystal: Anti-reflective coated synthetic sapphire *Water Resistance: 500m Movement: Based on ETA 2824, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power Reserve: 38 hours Strap: Titanium Functions: Time, date, rotating countdown bezel | Shop Now