What do you do when Tudor releases a new version of their most rugged dive watch? You decide to go scuba diving. Following the announcement of the Tudor Pelagos 25600 at Baselworld 2015, the only way I could contribute to Ariel’s analysis of the original Pelagos was to try the latest model in its natural environment. I escaped Vancouver’s tiresome combination of cold and rainy for the tropical embrace of Pacific Mexico’s Baha de Banderas, wearing a bright blue Pelagos 25600 TB on my wrist.
Our tiny dive boat, bobbing up and down in the warm Pacific surf, seemed even smaller as it approached our ragtag group of vacationing divers. We were ferried to the rental skiff by jet ski due to the lack of a working port, which meant we were limited to only essential gear for two leisurely dives at Malinal, a huge rock passage in a wide bay near Punta Mita, Mexico.
Although tropical diving does not necessitate a large amount of equipment, the fittings that are needed are designed specifically for use underwater. Wearing dive gear on the surface is inconvenient, bulky, and unfashionable. The dive watch is the one exception, as you would expect. A good dive watch is a step up from regular dive gear, designed to effortlessly transition from the office to the pool to the sunken hull of a long-forgotten ship.
The bright sunlight reflected off the calm surf as I hung on the sea, my hands preoccupied fiddling with my camera, casting wild crystalline rays of light across the rich blue dial of the Tudor Pelagos on my wrist. While it’s easy to claim that few watches will look better half submerged in the Pacific, that doesn’t capture the Tudor Pelagos' true nature. The Tudor Pelagos is always at ease; its competent and concentrated nature exudes unflappability; the Tudor Pelagos never appears to be out of its depth.
The Tudor Pelagos was first introduced in 2012 with a black dial and an ETA 2824 movement. The Tudor Pelagos was updated at Baselworld 2015 and is now available in black (25600TN) and blue (25600BL) (25600TB). Tudor also fitted their iconic tool watch with a new manufacture movement – the MT5612 – in addition to the new color option. The MT5612 is an in-house automatic movement with 26 jewels and a 70-hour power reserve that offers time and date at 4Hz. We covered all of the specifics at launch, but in summary, the MT5612 is an in-house automatic movement with time and date at 4Hz, 26 jewels, and a 70-hour power reserve. The difference between a 2012 black Tudor Pelagos and a 2015 black Tudor Pelagos is simple: the 2012 has two lines of text above six o’clock, while the 2015 has five lines. Although there is a lot of text, and I prefer the look of the “two liners,” I quickly became accustomed to the extra prose, and after a short time, I didn’t even notice it.
With the exception of the blue choice and the MT5612, the Tudor Pelagos retains the original’s winning style, with a 42mm titanium case that is 14.3mm thick and 50mm lug to lug. Two mounting choices, an outstanding titanium bracelet, and a supremely comfortable rubber band are all included in the Tudor Pelagos. I wore both a lot, and I’m sure if I had my own Tudor Pelagos, I’d switch between them all the time: they’re both fantastic.
The bracelet is in excellent condition and is well-integrated with the case thanks to strong end ties that also serve to secure the rubber band. The bracelet, thankfully, uses single-sided, screwed end ties, so removing links just takes a single fine screw driver. The Tudor Pelagos' incredible clasp comes into play once the bracelet is close to the right size.
The Tudor Pelagos (2012 and 2015) has a trick clasp that allows you to choose between three micro positions without using a tool. When wearing the Tudor Pelagos on a wetsuit sleeve that will compress at depth, there is also a spring-loaded setting that allows for automatic adjustment. Finally, a hidden folding dive extension is included for use with thicker wetsuits. Check out the video included in the package for a more visual description.
I chose to use the included blue rubber band for my trip to Mexico. After removing the bracelet, simply insert the strap into the end links of the bracelet for a quick and secure connection to the Tudor Pelagos case. The water was warm enough that I didn’t need a sleeveless wetsuit, so the Tudor Pelagos didn’t need to be changed for diving. I’d use the included extension strap if I were diving in the colder waters around Vancouver, as it would allow me to wear the Tudor Pelagos over my bulky drysuit.
While the two mounting choices have a different look and feel, they both provide a convenient and efficient way to wear the Tudor Pelagos, even while diving. One word of caution: if you’re having a Tudor Pelagos, I’d suggest investing in spring bar pliers instead of depending on a one-sided spring bar tool or screwdriver to remove/mount belts. Since the tolerances and tool accesses are so close, a proper tool can avoid scratches and make changing straps much easier.
A capable bezel design and ample luminous treatment for low-light conditions are required for a true dive watch, particularly those with toolish aspirations. The Tudor Pelagos' bezel is as good as any I’ve ever seen, with a slightly wider edge than the case and a grippy coin edge for a positive grip in any condition. The action is light, clicky, precise, and wiggle-free, allowing you to easily reach your target. The Tudor Pelagos bezel is absolutely stunning, with a luminous ceramic insert.
The Pelagos provides excellent legibility in any condition thanks to a high contrast nature, a smooth anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and plenty of lume. The luminous treatment is remarkably consistent around the hands, markers, and bezel, and it charges rapidly and retains a vivid, strong blue for an extended period of time. You won’t be disappointed if you’re used to Seiko or current-generation Rolex divers.
Aside from a suit-and-tie environment, I can’t think of a situation where the Tudor Pelagos won’t fit in. Despite its tool-like appearance, the Tudor Pelagos is very light on the forearm, weighing just 106g on the rubber band and 142g with the titanium bracelet sized to my 6.5-7-inch wrist.
The Tudor Pelagos, like most modern Tudor watches, pays homage to its forefathers. Although the aesthetic is less romantic and referential than the Black Bay, Tudor’s distinctive snowflake hour hand is still visible.
The Tudor Pelagos has an automatic helium escape valve (HEV) on the nine o’clock case side, as has become standard for almost all serious dive watches since the Rolex Sea-Dweller. This is probably the only feature of the Tudor Pelagos that I can modify, as I believe the obsession with HEVs on “professional” dive watches is exaggerated and mostly based on a misconception of the valves' basic function. In short, a HEV increases a watch’s suitability for the extremely complex requirements of a saturation diver. It has no effect on the watch’s water resistance or suitability for diving. You don’t need a HEV if you don’t live in a helium-rich climate for long periods of time.
The Tudor Pelagos' titanium case and bracelet have a lovely satin finish, and the warm tone of the metal complements the dial and bezel’s rich blues beautifully. Furthermore, for a sport watch at this price point, the case and bracelet are beautifully finished, with crisp undersides, beveled lugs, and an emphasis on fine details like the bezel grip. Since titanium is softer than steel, you must be okay with scratches if you want to wear a titanium sport watch. I found the Tudor Pelagos to be a magnet for small scratches during the few weeks I wore it, particularly on the bracelet. I prefer a watch that has seen some use, and I believe that scratches are all part of the experience when purchasing a tool watch. If you like your timepieces to be spotless, titanium might not be the best option.
The Tudor is ergonomically and physically comfortable on the wrist. The Tudor Pelagos exudes the kind of assurance I’d expect from a one-of-a-kind product that’s been used in its element. So, while my regulator is great for when I need to breathe underwater, the Tudor Pelagos is great for anything. It has all the characteristics of a tool diver, but it’s been made to be as comfortable, casual, and approachable as possible. The Pelagos is one of the best true sport watches on the market today, with a potent combination of legibility, durability, and comfort.
Competition is vital at every price point, but when you’re investing luxury dollars, it’s much more critical to understand how something compares. Since Tudor’s inclusion of an in-house movement is a significant improvement in cache over the ETA-powered version from 2012, competition for the new Tudor Pelagos is reasonably slim. Furthermore, the Tudor Pelagos' list price rose by just $275 when it was upgraded, which is unheard of in this market. Remember that the asking price includes both the titanium bracelet and the rubber band, while other more expensive competitors will charge an additional fee to add rubber (if an OEM alternative exists, Rolex), or even more if the bracelet isn’t included in the base spec.
And if you choose a good competitor like Sinn, such as the T2 on the titanium bracelet, you’re looking at $3060 USD. You get a comparable kit for around $1,300 less than the Tudor Pelagos, but the movement is not in-house (the Sinn uses the well-regarded Soprod A10-2, a rival for ETA’s 289X movements). When you add in the T2’s rubber band, you’re looking at a price tag of $3500 or more. The Pelagos provides an in-house movement and an extremely impressive auto-adjusting clasp for the bracelet for an extra fee. Is the Sinn a rip-off? No way, but Tudor has been aggressive in their pricing of the Pelagos, despite the fact that direct competition is small.
I wore the Pelagos when driving, diving, relaxing by the pool, and going about my daily routine. Whatever you throw at it, the adaptable and confident Tudor Pelagos begs to be worn, makes a strong case for your hard-earned money, and is definitely one of the best dive watches I’ve ever tested.