One Man, One Watch & Why I Chose The Tudor Pelagos..
I thought this would be difficult. I’ve owned over 100 fantastic watches during the last few years and usually had between 5 and 15 in my watch box at any given time. Recently, however, I’ve felt more and more that I should dedicate less time to watches and more time to my family and as a result I’ve been slowly reducing my collection until just a few months ago I arrived at two watches: the Seiko MM600 and the classic Rolex Explorer I 114270. In the last couple of weeks, however, even having to choose between those two watches was becoming tiresome. I think that maybe during my 20 years traveling abroad I developed a need for minimalism. I had to keep things simple and although I always loved quality you were pretty much tied down to one of everything and a total that could easily be carried on your back.. I’ve also realised I’m not a vintage man. Whilst I love acquiring, owning and photographing vintage watches, they’re simply not the best solution if you’re going to use the watch for it’s intended purpose. Scratch the insert on a new Sub and £60 will see it replaced with a new one. Scratch the faded insert on a gilt 5513 and £500-1000 will see it replaced with something similar but not the same.
The MM600 is a fantastic watch. The dial is sublime and the Spring Drive movement the most accurate you’ll find. It’s not a one watch solution, however, and I think that’s down to it’s sheer bulk. At 45mm and 17mm in height it’s a beast and whilst that works OK for casual it doesn’t quite cut it for a suit or jacket. I’ve also never been a big fan of the bracelets on either the MM300 or MM600. Those two polished centre links are garish at best and whilst I got used to them on the titanium MM600 bracelet I would still have preferred a plain oyster link. The clasp was OK but was also outdated and nothing special.
The Rolex Explorer I is a classic. Few watches are as versatile as this but for me it had one huge failing: I need a watch to tell me two things: what the time is and what the date is. The Explorer I did the first admirably but flatly refused to do the second. Try as I would (and at one point I thought I was getting there) I just need a date window.. Everything else about the watch was superb and if you’re a lover of non-date watches you need to take a good look at this one.
As a two watch solution this worked very well. Those two were a perfect marriage of casual and smart but I now longed for one watch that satisfied both occasions. Years ago my one watch solution was the Rolex Seadweller 16600. With it’s small, unobtrusive date window, chunky 40mm case, tight bezel and smart but rugged appearance it worked well in most situations, so why not go back to that? Well, frankly, the Subs and SDs now bore me to death. They’ve acquired a status amongst the yuppies and nowadays it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry owns one, real or fake. I know that many own these watches for their merits, which are many and valid but I also know even more own it for the perceived status it gives them and rightly or wrongly I just don’t want to be a member of that club, any more.. I also felt the 40mm Subs and SDs were just a tad small, both in width and height.
So, what to do? For me 42mm is the sweet spot and anything up to 13-15mm in height is perfectly comfortable. I’d seen the Tudor Pelagos upon it’s release and immediately loved it’s no nonsense lines and obvious attention to detail. The clasp also intrigued me and it was about time I owned a watch that had a clasp with a 21st century design. What had put me off initially was the material it was made of. I’ve never been a fan of titanium . Had the Pelagos been steel I’d have been queuing for the first one released but instead I passed the watch over. Then I decided to give the MM600 a second go and it was this that made me realise the benefits of titanium and to put away my prejudice of it once and for all. The MM600 would not have been wearable with an all steel construction, in the same way that the Marathon CSAR, whilst an incredible watch, was not really practical at a quarter of a kilo..
With my new found love of titanium the Pelagos now became my perfect watch. I always prefer dive watches and utilise the bezel for all kinds of things. Black or dark blue dials are always my favourites, so tick there. Small date window with no cyclops? Tick! Plain oyster bracelet with modern dive clasp? Tick! 42mm? Tick! You either love snowflake hands or hate them; I personally love them so another big tick there. One thing I do like is a good looking, quality rubber dive strap. The ability to change the bracelet to a rubber strap when heading off into the rough and tumble that will undoubtedly damage a bracelet is priceless. So why the heck have Rolex stubbornly (and in my opinion, arrogantly) flatly refused to produce an OEM rubber strap for their multiple divers? It’s just as bad as Damasko refusing to produce a bracelet!! In fact, from Rolex it’s worse as they’re a huge corporation, have had several divers for decades and could have solved that problem in seconds. Instead, a 3rd party company like Rubber B has to come along and provide a non-OEM solution at OEM prices. Ridiculous. Tudor, on the other hand, owned and run by Rolex, has always produced great rubbers straps, which makes the whole Rolex debacle even more ludicrous. The Pelagos, does, of course, come with a superb and quite stunning rubber strap so even that box got a huge tick!
So there we have it. The Tudor Pelagos. My personal one watch solution and having paid just £2300 for a brand new one I had £2500 left over to pop in the bank. My advice, regardless of how many watches you intend to own, if you don’t need the name “Rolex” on your dial, take a good look at the Tudor Pelagos!
2 Week Comment
I’ve now owned and worn this watch every day for two weeks. Am I still pleased with my decision to appoint this as my one and only watch? You bet ya!! This watch is what I wanted my Rolex Sub or SD to be: 42mm instead of 40; 22mm lugs instead of 20 and click-ball bezel mechanism instead of wire, combined with the best dive clasp in the business! Titanium and steel construction means the watch, whilst still feeling substantial, is lighter to wear. The slightly darker metal really does look the business, too. Zero polished bits means zero bling. If you wear a lot of brightly coloured leopard-skin jackets this may not be the watch for you but if you want class without bling you’ve just found it. The 42mm case spreads the weight across the wrist better. I can honestly say this is by far and away the most comfortable watch I’ve ever owned. The Sub was comfy but not perfect. 20mm bracelets never are perfect on my wrist, particularly when they reduce to a dainty 16mm clasp. The SD was fine except I often found myself pushing the watch head back centre on my wrist because it had wondered to one side or the other. The SDs are known to be a tad top heavy so that was always going to be the case but it’s annoying, especially in the hot and sticky summer weather.
The clasp on the Pelagos is a dream come true.
It’s micro-adjustment allows you to get the bracelet length mm perfect and change the length on the fly in seconds. That’s a massive plus in my book. Now OK, both the new ceramic Subs and the Deep Sea SD have clasps that will do the same but let’s examine their bracelets. What the heck were the Rolex engineers thinking when they decided to give the huge and extremely heavy DSSD 21mm lugs and a 16mm clasp? That has to make for the most uncomfortable watch in the history of dive watches. The Tudor boys, on the other hand, nailed it perfectly! 42mm case, 22mm lugs, 20mm clasp. That combo means this watch just disappears on your wrist and you barely notice you’re wearing a watch. I’m tempted to suggest Rolex get rid of their design engineers and employ the Tudor lads, instead, but I fear they may just swap them over and that could have devastating results for the Tudor brand. Let’s talk SubC: if Tudor with the Pelagos can produce a gorgeous case with perfect symmetry, lugs that are just right and a 500m depth rating in a case that’s approximately the same thickness as the Sub, why did Rolex decide to just bulk up the lugs on the Sub and make it look like it’d just been stung by a wasp and was having a severe anaphylactic reaction?
OK, let’s talk accuracy: you’d have thought that most watch collectors and watch enthusiasts in general would have been at least a bit hung up on how accurate their watches run.. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, in my experience. Accuracy is rarely the defining attribute when choosing a new watch, which I’ve always found rather bizarre. So far, during two weeks, the Pelagos has lost two seconds on the atomic clock. Two solitary seconds!! Keep in mind this is also a brand new watch and the movement won’t have bedded in yet.. The only watches I’ve owned that have bettered the accuracy of this Pelagos are the two Seiko Spring Drive divers. One of those lost a couple of seconds over 6 months (Seiko MM600) and the SBGA029 didn’t lose or gain a single second during the same period. The Pelagos isn’t Spring Drive driven, however. Instead it houses a tough ETA 2824 which in my opinion must be well calibrated to achieve this level of accuracy.
So there’s my mini two week update. To summarise: no regrets, no complaints, the Pelagos is everything I’d hoped it would be and then some!
One Month Update
There’s been some talk on various forums about the Pelagos crystal having an outer AR (anti-reflective) coating. Let me dispel that myth straight away: it does not! It does have an inner AR coating on the underside of the crystal, however. This is exactly what you want, in practical terms, as you get the great AR qualities of readability whilst not having the frailty of a possible scratched AR coating. Outer AR coatings have a tendency to smudge easily, too, and are a real pain to keep clean, which for me negates the point of having one in the first place. So, AR coating, yes, but only on the underside.
Over the last two weeks I’ve taken to wearing the Pelagos on either a nylon Zulu or a custom leather Zulu strap. I’ll give it a try on a NATO soon but I tend to prefer the cleaner look of a 3 ring Zulu as I’m not terribly keen on hardware either side of the watch head and have also never been a fan of the strap doubling back up one side. It wears extremely comfortably on both the above straps with virtually no movement on the wrist due to it’s slightly lighter weight. For most of the day I simply forget I’m wearing a watch and that’s exactly what I want, especially during the hot and sticky summers. A Zulu strap or similar will also allow you to be a bit rougher and more adventurous with the watch as you’re not concerned about beating the heck out of that brilliant clasp but being nylon it will still allow you to swim or dive with it. I do wish Tudor had made a 22mm version of the Black Bay distressed leather strap. I think that would look absolutely awesome on the Pelagos and I may even have one custom made in the near future. I’m sure either Shane Delaurian or DB10 Straps will be able to come up with one.
No damage, scratches or dents to report thus far. It seems the titanium stands up well so for anyone worried about this, don’t be. What you will always find with titanium is it will pick up rub marks. Steel will do this too but you won’t notice it on steel. Because this titanium is both brushed and darker in colour than steel by default, you will see the odd little rub market when it happens. The good news is it’s easily rectified yourself if it bothers you. Just pick up either a brush pen or a Scotchbrite (Brillo Pad) and gently brush the mark away. These marks will be prevalent on the clasp, especially for those who often use a keyboard. The matte ceramic bezel insert seems very resistant to marks and is virtually perfect, so no worries there, either. I managed to catch it on the fridge door the other day and where a 16610 Sub insert would have probably been both scratched and dented, the Pelagos insert took it in it’s stride.
If there’s one thing I wish Tudor had given the Pelagos it’s drilled lug holes. Both Rolex and Tudor (which is, of course, owned by Rolex) did away with drilled lugs a few years back and I wish they hadn’t. The fit of the Pelagos end links is much better than the older 16600 Seadweller and as a result they sit quite firmly in place. I don’t personally find removing them too difficult but if you’re not used to this operation I can understand that it can be a bit of a challenge. Having drilled lug holes would have solved this problem but hey, ho, ’twas not to be. Maybe I should get the drill out..
Finally.. accuracy: still running at +-0 seconds from the last update! Not even a Spring Drive movement can beat that!!
6 Month Update
OK, not quite 6 months but not far off! TBH, there’s not much to report and I guess that’s a good thing! Strangely, this is still a watch I enjoy wearing on Zulu straps and as a result it’s spent only 50% of it’s life thus far on the bracelet. That’s very unusual for me as I tend to wear all my watches on bracelet exclusively but the darker metal of the Pelagos so suits a black Zulu it’s difficult to resist. I’m about to order a custom leather Zulu strap in the same distressed black leather as the OEM Black Bay strap, which I think will look superb! The bracelet clasp has picked up a few scratches but no more than my steel Subs did. Are they more noticeable on the Ti Pelagos clasp? Slightly, yes, but you’d have to be very high on the autism scale to be bothered by them.
As a past collector/enthusiast am I struggling with owning/wearing only one main watch? No, not at all! It’s actually a great pleasure to use all that wasted time on things which are far more important and the realization that I’m not an egomaniac snob is also quite liberating. I look at my wrist to tell the time and instantly the incredibly readable dial supplies me with the info I’m looking for. The non-pretentious looks of the watch speak to my core character and just do it for me. My G-Shock gets wrist time when we’re doing things that humans were not designed to do but otherwise the Pelagos takes pride of place. I’ve heard enthusiasts on various forums denigrate the idea of owning just one watch. After owning over a hundred of the world’s finest marques I can honestly say you just have to find the one for you. Of course, that also means you need to find you and quit following the trends of people who don’t even know you. “To thine own self be true!” my beloved late Mum used to shout at me. And, of course, she was right…