The Pelagos is Tudor’s answer to the world for a modern-day dive watch. Cast in titanium and steel, the watch is lightweight and capable of emerging unscathed from depths of up to 500 meters, thanks to its helium release valve.
Its specially formed dive bracelet, again, forged out of titanium, comes with an extension system that is, in every sense of the word, an exemplary innovation.
Its crowning glory, however, IMHO is, without a doubt, its ceramic bezel, which has its minute markers filled with a luminescent material. A remarkably simple feature really, but is amazing that in the entire Rolex/Tudor family, the Pelagos is the only example that has its bezel outfitted as such.
What we have on hand then is a dive watch that represents the forefront of both Rolex and Tudor’s knowhow — a dive watch that is, therefore, truly a 21st century tool.
Late on the 17th of November, however, Tudor showcased a new version of the Pelagos that bears the face of a more vintage tuned dive watch, but with all of the technical innovations that the Pelagos has always had. So, where does Tudor get off putting a vintage face on such a modern watch?
In order to answer my own posed question here, I’d like to, first, take you back to a moment in time at Basel earlier this year.
It was day one at the fair, and we were fresh off of having our irises flung wide open after an encounter with the 2016 ceramic bezel Daytona. I can’t quite remember why I was late to the Tudor presentation room, but I was. So, when I stumbled into the room, and took a second to calibrate myself, while again having my eyes set wide at the sight of the bronzed Heritage Black Bay, I found myself in between an ongoing conversation. On one side, there was Wei Koh, and the other there was this gentleman, who I presumed was a representative from Tudor.
Wei was mid-question — asking the gentleman how it is that Tudor continuously manages to merge its vintage identity into watches that are decidedly for the 21st century. The return came, “In order to achieve this, I had to first analyze all of Tudor’s aesthetic heritage and identify small elements that are good and relevant. And after having done all of that, I had to force himself to forget everything.”
It was at that moment that I realized, I was in the presence of the man and mind, who gave life to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay One — the unique phenomenon that sold at Only Watch 2015 for a staggering CHF 375,000. 120 times over list price. I was in the presence of Mr. Ander Ugarte, Chief Designer at Tudor.
And again, explaining his profound statement he said, “It was only by inundating my mind with our history and then purging all of it that I could try out different combinations and mixtures from Tudor’s pallet and have it result in something new.”
This is how Tudor’s been mixing its historical identity with that which is desired by the modern-day customer. This is how the Heritage Black Bay got its vintage thunder; or the Heritage Chrono — and now, the Tudor Pelagos.
Although, it’s not perfectly accurate to say that it’s only now that the Pelagos has been given a touch of the vintage spice. Because you see from the get go the watch has always had Tudor’s signature square markers and “snowflake” hands.
But this has now been taken a few good notches beyond with the new aesthetic additions on the black Pelagos (‘cos let’s face it, these particular decisions wouldn’t have worked on the blue Pelagos from 2015). We’ll consider these additions one by one and point out their origins in Tudor’s history books.
The Left-Hand Drive
It is the big glowing bulb in the room — the Pelagos’ newly orientated crown. No longer on the familiar right side of the case, but its left. Making the Pelagos a watch, now appropriate, for the southpaw-ed diver to wear on the right wrist, which is the right wrist.
Now, beyond this being a practical new execution, the left-sided crown is, in fact, a page out of Tudor’s history book. It was in 1981, that Tudor first produced a left-handed dive watch: the ref. 9401 Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner “Left-Hand”.
The watch was specifically produced for Marine Nationale officers who were lefties and were otherwise having to wear regular Tudor Submariners, upside down, on their right wrist.
The Beige Hour Markers and Hands
The color choice for the hour makers and the hands is not so much a page out of Tudor’s history book. It is, however, an aging phenomenon observed on vintage Tudor submariners, which had tritium applied to their hour markers and hands for luminescence; for visibility in the dark. Tritium owing to its nature, had the tendency to turn a particular shade of beige over time.
And here, on the dial of the 2016 Pelagos LHD, a nod is made to this occurrence by having the watch’s dial elements painted in thus color. This, however, does not compromise the Chromalight on the hands and hour makers — retaining the brilliant luminescence the Pelagos is known for.
Roulette Date Wheel
This one’s not going to strike you on first sight, unless that is, you are on an even numbered date, which are in red typography on the date wheel of the Pelagos LHD. The alternating, odd numbered dates, are in black.
What page of Tudor’s history does this particular aspect nod to? Well, for this one we go back all the way to 1969 and the Tudor Prince Oysterdate Submariner ref. 7021. This was the first historical Tudor submariner that had a date function and the cyclops magnifying glass over the crystal above it.
Unlimited Numbered Series
People may not make much of this one, but it’s possibly one of the most important elements in the new LHD. If you’ve read, Ross Povey’s Tudor MilSub part 1 on the website already, you’d know that unlike the Rolex MilSubs that can be identified by various unique dial markings, the Tudor MilSubs never had any such particularity on their dials. For the better part of it, the Tudor MilSubs were hardly any different from the ones a civilian diver could obtain right off a store shelf.
The only way to identify a period-correct Tudor Submariner as a legitimate military issued MilSub is by the specific engravings it should bear, on its caseback, to indicate its military origin. Take for example that the Marine Nationale issued Tudor MilSub bore the initials “M.N.” followed the year of issue in tens and ones; such as: M.N.82.
On the back of the Pelagos LHD’s case you are going to find numbers engraved as well. A subtle acknowledgement of Tudor dive watches’ military past, although, these numbers are in running order indicating how late (or early) the watch was produced in the Pelagos LHD’s production lifetime.
Once the specifics are lined up like that, what becomes obvious is the importance of the Tudor Pelagos LHD. Not just that it’s now a viable product to offer to the brand’s left-handed customers, with great vintage accents that make for a sexy tool watch — both in terms of technicalities and aesthetics — but with all the elements that have been imbued into the watch — from Tudor’s heritage and modern-day, world class innovations — what the Pelagos LHD ultimately stands for then is a worthy tribute, where Tudor’s past triumphs meet with its present successes.