Tudor Pelagos 39, LHD, FXD, Alinghi Editions: Everything You Need to Know
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Tudor Pelagos 39, LHD, FXD, Alinghi Editions: Everything You Need to Know

The Tudor Pelagos is regarded by most as the Rolex-owned brand’s other dive watch — a niche model that never garnered the enthusiast prestige or the proliferating line extensions of its sibling, the more widely adored Black Bay. But for a diehard fanbase looking for modern deep-sea robustness as well as authentic military lineage, the Pelagos offers more than its share of appeal, and has even started offering diversity in its sizes, styles, and materials. Here is what you need to know about the Tudor Pelagos collection.

Tudor Pelagos FXD black

With an eye toward making watches that would be affordable while still maintaining a high level of quality, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf registered the Tudor brand trademark in 1926, and began running Tudor as a subsidiary brand of Rolex in 1946. Combining reliable, third-party Swiss-made movements with Rolex’s famed waterproof Oyster cases and bracelets, Tudor watches were designed to bring customers into the Rolex fold at a lower price point. As one would expect from the more accessible sibling to its luxurious big brother, Tudor has for most of its history been associated with tool watches. The first Tudor watch with the “Oyster” name followed shortly after the launch of the brand, in 1947, kicking off a long tradition of timepieces suitable for underwater adventure.

Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner

The first Tudor Prince model followed in 1952, around the same time that Tudor began an R&D partnership with the French Navy (Marine Nationale), from which would emerge the brand’s first dedicated divers’ watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner (above), two years later. It came right on the heels of Rolex’s own purpose-built diver’s watch, also called the Submariner (as well as those of another historically significant watch for divers, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms), and initially was very similar to its better known predecessor, with the same “Mercedes”-style handset and the same water resistance, to 100 meters, a record at the time.

Tudor Submariner "Snowflake" vintage watch

The next generation of the Oyster Prince Submariner, the Ref. 7924, followed in 1958, with a higher depth rating of 200 meters, still the base standard for Tudor dive watches today. It was nicknamed the “Big Crown,” as it was the first Tudor Submariner with an enlarged 8mm winding crown (from the previous 5mm). The watch underwent a series of mostly small evolutions in subsequent years, chiefly in details like the crown guards and dial verbiage, before its most substantial redesign in 1969. That’s the year the now-famous Ref. 7016, nicknamed “Snowflake” after its distinctive square-themed hands and markers, made its debut (photo above via Analog:Shift), remaining in Tudor’s catalog until the early 1980s and providing the template for the next decade’s worth of Submariners. Both of these landmark models would lend an element of inspiration to the dive watches that Tudor introduced in 2012, shortly after the Rolex-owned brand returned to the U.S. market after a lengthy absence: the Pelagos (which takes its name from the Greek word for “deep sea”) and the Black Bay, which I explore in greater detail in this article. Of the two, the Black Bay has become a larger and more diverse collection, beloved by collectors, while the Pelagos, while much narrower in its options, is the Tudor watch whose technical specs and robust design make it a favorite of serious divers. 

Tudor Pelagos 42mm original

At first glance, the Pelagos and Black Bay look strikingly similar to one another; not surprising, as both share the historical Oyster Prince Submariner DNA. The differences are in the details, both aesthetic and technical. Since its initial launch, the Pelagos case, unlike that of the Black Bay, has been made of titanium rather than steel; it is, in fact, the first titanium-cased dive watch from the Rolex brand family. The unidirectional rotating bezel of the Pelagos is equipped with a dive-scale insert made of ceramic, with luminous numerals and markers; the Black Bay divers use aluminum for this insert. The Pelagos dial features the same “snowflake” hour and minute hands as the Black Bay — a stylistic choice made at the request of the French Navy, whose members found the combo of differently shaped and sized hands made reading the time underwater easier — but uses all-rectangular indexes, rather than its sibling’s assortment of circles and rectangles, at every hour marker; both models have an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, the Pelagos’ version a bit thicker.

Tudor Pelagos helium escape valve

From a diving standpoint, the Pelagos is clearly the model that leans much more strongly into tool-watch territory. The titanium case is water-resistant to an impressive 500 meters, as compared to the 200 meters of nearly every Black Bay model. Both models use the Rolex Oyster case (41mm in diameter for the base Black Bay model, 42mm for the original Pelagos, though both have added other sizing options), but the Pelagos adds to the deep-sea functionality with its inclusion of a helium-release valve (above) for saturation diving, a device Rolex developed back in the 1960s for its Sea-Dweller dive watches and which remains a key element of those models today. (If it helps, one could say that the Pelagos is the Sea-Dweller to the Black Bay’s Submariner.)

Tudor Pelagos bracelet extensionThe other feature that defines the Pelagos and establishes its professional-diving bonafides is the specially designed, spring-loaded clasp (above) on the titanium bracelet, which allows the clasp to expand and contract according to a diver’s needs and environment; each Pelagos watch also comes with an additional rubber strap designed to be long enough to strap the watch over a wetsuit. Like the Black Bay, and much of the rest of Tudor’s modern collection, the Pelagos is outfitted with a Tudor in-house movement, the automatic MT5612. It is a descendant of the original Caliber MT5621 (the “MT” denoting “Manufacture Tudor”) from 2015, the company’s first proprietary movement, and significantly offers a 70-hour power reserve, a silicon balance spring, and a COSC chronometer certification. The Pelagos family is still fairly small compared to the Black Bay collection, but there are some notable differences between the available models, as showcased below.


Tudor Pelagos Blue

Price: $4,700 - $5,025, Case size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.75mm, Lug to Lug: 52.5mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 500 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5612

The original Pelagos remains at the vanguard of the collection in 2023, with all of the elements that defined it a decade ago: 42mm titanium case, ceramic bezel, date window at 3 o’clock, and 500 meter water resistance, in either a predominantly black or blue colorway for the dial and bezel. Still housing the automatic MT5612 Caliber, the Pelagos is the most rugged Tudor dive watch you can buy while still offering a distinctive vintage style.


Tudor Pelagos LHD

Price: $5,175, Case size: 42mm, Thickness: XXmm, Lug to Lug: XXmm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 500 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5612-LHD

In 2016, Tudor introduced the Pelagos LHD, a model based on a now-rare watch the company made in the late 20th century for southpaw military divers in the French Navy that had been wearing their government-issue dive watches upside down to more easily access the winding crown. The initials “LHD” stand for “Left Handed Drive,” referring to the inverted position of the movement’s winding mechanism, which allows for the crown to be positioned on the left side of the brushed titanium case. The original Pelagos LHD was the first Tudor watch in a numbered edition, and its dial includes another vintage callout to vintage Tudor dive watches: the date disk at 3 o’clock used red text for the even numerals and black for odd numerals, an alternating style that first appeared in the Ref. 7021 Submariner from 1969 and which collectors have nicknamed “roulette.” Speaking to Tudor’s strict in-house quality control, the movement, Caliber MT5612-LHD achieves its chronometer certification through a series of tests that simulate the watch being worn on the left wrist. 


Tudor Pelagos 39 Black

Price: $4,700, Case size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.8mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5400

In 2022, in keeping with the trend toward smaller case dimensions that has also spawned downsized versions of the Black Bay, Tudor introduced the Pelagos 39, which as its name implies trims the 42mm diameter of the original Pelagos down to a more universally wearable 39mm. The case’s profile is also slimmed down to 11.8mm, and from the standpoint of functionality, the water resistance is also less robust than that of the original Pelagos, at a still-respectable 200 meters. The case and bracelet are in the same satin-brushed titanium as those of its big brother, and the dial features the snowflake hands and geometric indexes, but not the 3 o’clock date window, making for an even more streamlined aesthetic. Also absent from the Pelagos 39 is the helium release valve on the left side of the case, a superfluous element on a watch not built for saturation diving. Tudor’s in-house, automatic, COSC-certified Caliber MT5400 beats inside. 


Tudor Pelagos FXD BluePrice: $4,100, Case size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.75mm, Lug to Lug: 52.5mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5602

Launched in 2021 and taking specific historical cues from the watches Tudor produced for French Marine Nationale divers in the mId-20th century, the Pelagos FXD model is named for the sturdy, “FiXeD” strap bars on its 42mm steel case, which fits only single-pass NATO straps. Designed in close collaboration with today’s Marine Nationale, the watch’s specially designed strap bars, a utilitarian element suggested by the navy divers for whom they’re intended, differentiate the FXD model from just about every other dive watch on the market. The marine-evocative blue colorway of the dial and bezel, the latter’s enhancement with extra-bright luminous material, and the bezel’s bidirectional rather than unidirectional functionality, are also details specifically developed with the input of the French navy. The case is in satin-finished titanium; the dial features the vintage-influenced and now-familiar “Snowflake” handset; the Tudor In-house Caliber MT5602, a chronometer-certified, automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve, ticks inside the 200-meter water-resistant case, attached to a blue fabric NATO strap. 


Tudor Pelagos FXD Chrono AlinghiPrice: $5,025, Case size: 43mm, Thickness: 13mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5813

Tudor expands the range of both case materials and complications  for the Pelagos with the 2023 launch of the FXD Chrono “Alinghi Red Bull Racing Edition,” one of two special editions (the other is a time-only model) to feature a 42mm case made of a matte-black carbon composite. Developed in cooperation with the Alinghi Red Bull racing team, the watch is designed to be a companion piece to the team’s hydrofoil racing boat, whose hull combines titanium, stainless steel and carbon fiber, and its color scheme takes its cues from the team’s livery, including the predominantly blue expanses of the dial, bezel and strap highlighted by red details inspired by the boat’s racing stripes. The FXD Chrono — as far as I can determine, the first Pelagos with a chronograph movement — uses titanium for the screw-down crown and the bezel, the latter with an insert made from the same carbon material as the case. In keeping with the special edition’s regatta racing theme, the bicompax chronograph, powered by the automatic, COSC-certified Caliber MT5813 inside the 43mm case, can be used for countdowns and lap timing. The water resistance is 200 meters, the same as for the FXD models in titanium, but the watch’s profile is notably thinner in this material, just 7.23mm.

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Great article as always!
Can you do a review of the Longines conquest L3.835.4.32.6

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