A Moment in Time: Tudor Pelagos Ref. 25600TB
Disclaimer: From July to August 2015, I worked at Sidney Thomas Jewelers. This is not a paid promotion.
The Tudor Pelagos is the pinnacle of Tudor's modern tool watch range. Inside the first titanium watch from Tudor is the brand's first ever in-house movement. So the Pelagos? Kind of a big deal.
Unless you're a commercial diver who has been living on a offshore platform for the last four years you'll probably know that Tudor Submariners are in vogue at the moment. For most of their lives they were seen as 2nd or 3rd tier Rolexes but finally over the past few years collectors have realized that just because the Tudor Subs lack a crown it doesn't make them any less regal.
For most of their youth and adolescence Tudor Submariners looked just like their older brothers; the big crown, the red triangle at 12, the Mercedes hands. Then at the request of the Marine Nationale (The French Navy) to create a dive watch with more legible hands and hour markers, the Ref. 7016 that first came out in 1968 reverted from an elegant swan to a seemingly ugly duckling. The hands morphed into weird angular stumps, the circular markers were huge white squares and rectangles and the Fleurier Cal. 390 made to Rolex specs was replaced by an ETA movement. Yet all of these design choices worked perfectly together and now the "Snowflake" design is perhaps the most defining feature of Tudor Submariners.
You will be able to find see two different dial variants for the Ref. 7016, one with traditional Mercedes hands and round markers and the other with the angular hour hand and square markers. I've seen various sources that claim differing years of origin for first snowflake with claims to 1966, 1968 or 1974. What is even more confusing is that there are conflicting reports about when the blue variant was offered. Some believe the later reference 9401/0 from 1975 was the first example of a blue dial and bezel however the Tudor Collector says they have seen blue examples from as early as 1968. What is known for sure is that all Tudor dials from this period were prone to rot with small bubbles appearing at the center of the dial.
In 1974 a small batch of Ref. 7016s destined for military service would be the first to be sent to Paris to be engraved "M.N. 19XX". Before this process of engraving only a ledger with the reference number, brand and which unit or ship receiving the watch recorded which watch went where. In 1975 the Ref. 9401/0 and Ref. 9411/0 (Date) replaced the Ref. 7016s and 7021/0s, both available in either blue or black with the civilian model being completely identical to the military issued pieces. This lack of alteration speaks volumes to the quality of these Submariners but leaves modern day collectors wary of purchasing a civilian model claimed by unscrupulous dealers to be a military issue as those early subs didn't receive the "M.N. 19XX" engraving. A PDF of the original ledger is somewhere online and can be used if found(The original is owned by a French dealer) and if the watches decommissioned papers are present and genuine this can also add credence to the watches authenticity. However the best method of not getting stung is buying the seller not the product, do your research, go through a reputable dealer and you should be fine.
The first Pelagos that was released in 2012 shared a similar ETA movement as it's older Submariner cousins however was only available in black. It was one of the staple pieces in the Tudor line up that truly cemented the brand's return; the Heritage Black Bay, the Heritage Ranger and the Pelagos. The hands have remained the same in the Ref. 25600TB with the pencil minute hand and the angular stubby hour hand which is more comfortable next to the square hour markers on the Pelagos than the circular markers on the Black Bay. Ancient Greek for "the deep" or "deep sea", the Pelagos wears it's name with pride on its dial alongside waterproof rating of 500m/1640ft. At 42mm the Pelagos is a lot narrowed than it's beefy bezel and masculine brushed titanium case lets on and sits really nicely on the wrist, albeit a few millimeters higher than the Black Bay.
This latest iteration of the Pelagos has the same case as the older model with the biggest change coming in the form of Tudor's in-house movement, the MT5612. Seen in the Tudor North Flag as the MT5621 (With the power reserve complication), this new in-house movement is a huge milestone for the brand and it feel right at home with purpose built design of the Pelagos. With a power reserve of seventy hours, the COSC rated movement will easily last over a weekend of non-use. The movement lacks any decoration and at times can seem clinical compared to watches with a Cotes de Geneve however one cannot argue about getting an in-house, COSC rated, free-sprung balance movement for this price.
A new movement means more dial text with the bottom five lines taking up the lower half of the dial. Whilst "Rotor Self-Winding" is there for legacy reasons, it's out of place on a modern watch and should have been left off to open up the dial. Apart from that minor quibble the dial is truly one of the great strengths of the Pelagos. The raised chapter ring angles up towards the bezel and instantly separates the minute track that runs around it to create a lot of depth. The use of relief used in partnership with the applied white square hour markers works wonders and makes the dial instantly readable.
There is no hiding just how blue the Pelagos is. The ceramic bezel is bright and bountiful in a wonderful shade of blue that is far more lively and personable than the all-black model. The bezel font is a near perfect match from vintage Submariners with the bezel edge changing to a fine coin edge. This matches nicely with the detailing on the crown and from certain angles the two appears to be interconnected gears. The pointer crown guards have the same beveled edge as seen on the lug edges and are a nice touch to a style of watches where details like that can be overlooked.
One of the features of the Pelagos that Tudor is proud of is the auto-adjusting bracelet that increases comfort whilst diving by increasing and decreasing in size in response to the pressure. A small spring is hidden on the inside of the clasp with a scale showing the level of adjustment on the exterior of the clasp. It's a neat idea however as I'm not a diver I can't attest to just how needed it is. Speaking of questionable practically, the Pelagos has a helium escape valve at 9 o'clock. As I just outed myself as a non-diver, I'll let the words of Jason Heaton convince you as to how effective this extra hole on a watch actually is. Short version is if you're not in the 1% of divers who live for long periods of time in helium enriched environments underwater then don't worry about it and seeing as it is flush with the case rather than screw-down, you might not even notice it's there.
Something that could easily be overlooked from the other side of watch display is the titanium case. At 60% lighter than steel this supposedly butch watch weighs very very light on the wrist, an advantage for those looking for a daily wear but a disadvantage for those who like to feel every ounce of every dollar of their watch. The one downside to titanium as a daily wear is that whilst it is strong, it is not very tough and can easily get scratched and beat-up without too much effort. Modern titanium is supposed to be easily polished but as with patina, it's all a matter of preference as to how used you like your watches. The Tudor Pelagos is the best Tudor currently on the market right now. At $4400 you're getting an in-house, COSC certified movement in a killer watch that is the culmination of over forty years of purpose built design.
I'd like to thank Sidney Thomas Jewelers in Durham for their time and consideration whilst I photographed the watch. If you live in the Durham area of North Carolina and are interested in spending time with the Tudor Pelagos then you can contact Sidney Thomas at 919-544-1818. Opening times can be found at www.sidneythomas.com
- Fratello Watches - Tudor Submariner, A Historical Overview
- Gear Patrol - Adam Craniotes on the Tudor Submariner
- Hodinkee - Inside the Archives of Tudor
- Hodinkee - Jason Heaton on Helium Escape Valves
- Tudor Collector - History of Tudor Submariners Ref. 7016 & 7021
- Tudor Collector - History of Tudor Submariners Ref. 9401 & 9411
- Tudor Collector - Tudor and the Marine Nationale
- Vesper & Co - Tudor Submariner Ref. 7016 (SOLD)