Monday, July 2, 2018

TUDOR Pelagos Titanium 500 meter Blue Dial Dive Watch Reference M25600TB-0001 (similar to M25600TN-0001 & M25610TNL-0001) - Despite some issues, the watch is still pleasant to wear and can be worn for a long time without getting tired, A Review (plus Video)

I finally got my first Tudor watch!

There are a number of exciting examples under this brand. After giving it some thought, I decided to get its most advance tool watch, the Pelagos. The model I chose is the blue dial version reference M25600TB-0001.

Tudor is part of the Rolex Group of companies. When the original founder of Rolex, Mr. Hans Wilsdorf decided that he needed another series of watches with the same level of manufacturing standard as Rolex but sold at a lower price point, the idea of a separate company, the Tudor watch company was born.

Today, the price deferential between contemporary models between Rolex and Tudor is 1:2. If you want to own a piece of Rolex manufacturing quality and standard without the premium associated with that premium brand, Tudor is an excellent alternative.

As a product, the new Tudor Pelagos is 100% made in house by the manufacture. Although Tudor previous uses the ETA movement to power its watches, in 2015, the brand launched it first series of house movements. Since then, Tudor has slowly incorporate its in house movements across the various models in its collection.


The Pelagos was first launched back in 2012 with the ETA 2824. In 2015, the Pelagos was upgraded with Tudor's own in house movement, the MT5612 (more about this later). The name 'Pelagos' in Greek is 'deep sea'. Definitely an appropriate name for this mix gas saturation diving capable tool watch. 

The Watch

Under the Tudor brand, the Pelagos is the the most rugged watch utilizing exotic materials such as ceramic, stainless steel and titanium; have a depth rating of 500 meters; incorporating a helium escape valve system for saturation diving; and a new in house movement.



The Pelagos I got has a matte blue color dial and bezel which is not too bright and rather sedated.  I personally got a few blue coloured watches but I always find the paint used to be too shiny. For the Pelagos, the blue is non-reflective and actually soothing to the eye.

The main watch casing is made out of titanium. This is the biggest component of the watch and the material helps reduce the overall weight of the watch considerably.



The slopping chapter ring has minute markers and at the bottom of the slope near 6 o'clock the words 'SWISS MADE' is printed. On the dial surface itself, partial slots are cut from the chapter ring so that elevated hour markers can be inserted. Three different style of hour markers can be found on the watch; a square; a rectangle; and an inverted isosceles triangle. Meanwhile, the hour marker for 3 o'clock has been replaced by a date aperture with the date disk having black numerals on a white background to blend with the rest of the hour markers.

I would have preferred Tudor kept the 3 o'clock marker as it is and put the date aperture somewhere else, say between 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock. With the current setup, there is a loss of symmetry in my view. 

On the top quadrant is the first two lines of texts consisting the brand as well as the city name of Geneva where the Tudor is headquartered. At the bottom quadrant of the dial you will also find another five lines of texts. In addition to the text on the chapter ring, the Pelagos has eight lines of texts. All text are printed in white to give a good contrast against the blue dial.

A lot of comments about the amount of information Tudor felt important to state on the dial coming from observers when the updated Pelagos came out in 2015. There were a mix bag of comments from both spectrum of the divide between those that find it to be an overload of text to those that find it not to be an issue at all. Personally, Tudor chose the right font size and despite the numerous lines and texts, it does not distract me from referencing the time.

Tudor's famous Snowflake Hands is used on the Pelagos. The square diamond head used on the hours and seconds hands is what gave the iconic namesake to Tudor.

All the hands (for the seconds hand it is only the Snowflake head) and the hour markers are painted with luminous Superluminova paint which gives a green glow in the dark. Due to the 3 o'clock marker being replaced by the date aperture, the watch does look slightly unbalanced in the dark with a glow missing at the said position. Personally, I would preferred it if Tudor's designers kept the 3 o'clock marker and placed the date aperture somewhere else. I am quite particular about symmetry and it does bother me ever so slightly when I see the dial at night.

The dial is protected by a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective protection.

The bezel is also made of titanium with ceramic insert. The bezel, which curved downwards and away from the watch has a bit of an overhang for that vintage feel. Using a ratcheting system, the bezel turns only in one direction, counterclockwise, in crisp 60-clicks for a full rotation. It feels solid without any looseness and it has one of the loudest bezel clicks I’ve ever heard.

In terms of markings on the bezel, there is the downward pointing equilateral triangle with a pip
at 12 o'clock, markers and Arabic numerals in 5-minute intervals, and minute markers for the first 15 minutes of the scale. Uniquely, the pip is luminous, as required of a dive watch, but Tudor also created a thin blue line between it and the triangle and the surrounding triangle is also luminous.



What is also interesting is that all the markers are 'painted' with Superluminova painted. Actually the process is more intricate than just painting. I was made to understand that the paint was injected directly into the ceramic inserts. In the dark, all the major scales can be seen. A gorgeous design, the matte blue colour makes it interesting in the light and the illumination makes it interesting in the dark.



The crown of the watch is located at 3 o'clock. It is signed with the brand logo and has very fine line grooves on the barrel side for grip. Half protected by short crown guards, the screw-down crown can be manipulated easily. Re-engaging the screw threads when doing the screw-down procedure requires some practice. I find it easier to turn the crown counterclockwise first while pushing the crown in before turning it clockwise to ensure a good engagement with the screw thread. Not as smooth when compared to my Rolex DSSD.



On the opposite side of the crown is the automatic helium escape valve system that allows the Pelagos to be used by professional mix-gas divers. As far as I know the Pelagos is currently the only Tudor to receive a helium escape valve system.

The solid screw-down case-back for the Pelagos is made out of stainless steel. Honestly, I don't quite understand why the change in material. If you compare to the Rolex DSSD, the watch casing is made out of stainless steel but the screw-down case-back is made out of titanium to ensure users with allergic reaction to the nickel in stainless steel would not be affected. Since the Pelagos is already made out of titanium, why not continue with the same material for the case-back?



The case-back is plain without any graphics apart from some basic information about the watch stamped on it. The surface is brushed polished to have similar effect to the titanium surface on the watch casing.



The Pelagos comes standard on a titanium bracelet as well as an extra rubber straps in blue plus a strap extension. I was made to understand by the Tudor AD that effective 1 July 2018, Tudor will no longer provide the free additional strap with the watch. Since the lugs are unique to Tudor, it would be extremely difficult to find after-market options and buying additional straps from Tudor would be very expensive.



I have to correct myself here. Not all parts of the bracelet is made out of titanium. The clasp is made out of stainless steel. The rationale of the different material for the clasp is the fact that this is the only part of the bracelet that would suffer the most damage from use. Since stainless steel has a higher hardness rating than titanium, it should be able to withstand abuse much better. If only Tudor done more research on titanium alloys in a similar way Seiko and Citizen did with the Diashield and Duratect surface protection technologies, respectively. Tudor would not have needed to combine  multiple types of materials in a watch. As it stands right now, due to the different materials, the surface tone is different between materials and the transition is very obvious to the naked eye and visually cheapens the watch.

Update: I was made to understand that the titanium used by Tudor is deemed as a Grade 2 Ti, instead of the higher performance Grade 5 Ti. Grade 2 Ti is purer in the sense that it doesn't have aluminium and vanadium added to make it into a Grade 5 Ti. Unfortunately, it is inferior to the Grade 5 Ti as it doesn't comply to high stresses as required for aviation applications.  Generally, Grade 5 Ti is about three times stronger than Grade 2 Ti. Of course there are other properties where Ti has advantages over stainless steel, especially in density or weight. In that sense, Grade 2 Ti is also softer, hence being less scratch resistance than Grade 5 Ti and normal stainless steel.



The clasp on the Pelagos is comparatively larger than similar dive watches. This is because it has three different mechanisms built into the clasp that has the ability to extend the bracelet without the need of any tools. You may be wondering why such an elaborate multi-system design when just one standard mechanism could do the job? Well, I too am wondering but I guess Tudor just wanted to do something unique and different.

Tudor utilises a two stage latch system to lock and open the clasp for added security. Although this system secures the clasp firmly, I am rather concerned about the open slit that run along the middle of the clasp. This could potentially introduce grime into the works.



The first extension system incorporated into the clasp is a simple 25 mm bridge that is folded away. This bridge can be accessed via a small pivot with the words "PUSH" etched on it. Pushing on it will cause the bridge to unfold and add additional length to the bracelet easily.



The second extension system are micro adjustment points denoted by the three dots on the top half of the clasp. Unlike micro-adjustment points on a typical clasp which required one to use a thin tool to disengage the lug pins, Tudor's system uses friction to keep it in the desired position (to more it to another position just requires one to tug or push it to the new position). I am not totally convinced with this style of micro-adjustment can maintain the consistency over time especially when the basis of the locking system is friction. Surely, the strength of the friction will reduce with the progress of time and usage.



The third extension system is a spring-based retention system that allows the bracelet to expand and contract with your wrist, making for a perfect fit. Although on the top of the clasp are six circle markers that are in difference sizes, the level of adjustment is variable since the springs allows one to adjust to any degree. This is something like Seiko's accordion diver straps where the 'accordion' part of the strap acts just like a set of springs.

It is said that our wrist expands and contracts due to weather and blood flows. The spring extension system will take care of these changes automatically and ensure a 'perfect' fit at all times.

I do have some concerns about this system. The exposed springs and the many ways grime could clog it makes it seem fragile to me. I am sure Tudor must have done their testing but I am still not convinced. Moreover, with the continuous sliding movement of the system scratching the sides of the inner sliding link is inevitable. Within a day of wearing the watch, I've noticed the wear on the surface of the inner sliding link (see below).



Meanwhile, the links are connected to each other via screw pins. Adjusting the links is easier as you need only a micro-screwdriver to do the adjustments.

Tudor started with three in-house movements, the MT5602, MT5612 and the MT5621. These were launched in 2015 and marked a new dawn for the brand. The engine that powers the Pelagos is Tudor's second of three in-house movements, the MT5612. The major difference between MT5612 and MT5621 is that the latter has an additional power reserve indicator complication and two more jewels i.e. 28 instead of 26. The difference between MT5602 and the rest is the lack of any complications apart for the 3-hands.

Tudor has always been under the shadow of it parent, Rolex. Since the Tudor brand was created in 1926 (a full fledged company was only establishment in 1946), Rolex has kept Tudor from creating for itself its own unique franchise value. Tudor could only use outsourced movements while Rolex was able to develop a series of in-house movements.

In 2015, this distinction is no longer valid. Tudor has pushed itself admirably to create a set of movements that are as capable as its parent. Some of the innovative technologies used for the MT56xx series are the free sprung balance wheel, bidirectional winding, a balance bridge, silicon hairspring, sleeve bearing and monobloc rotors. All these technologies can be found on Rolex's most advanced movement the 3255 except for the silicon hairspring which has not been adopted by Rolex yet.

The most obvious performance enhancement is the very impressive 70 hour power reserve, well above the industry standard of approximately 40 hours under this price point. It is also a COSC certified chronometer.

It is a pity that the Pelagos does not have a display case-back. It would be nice to be able to see the MT5612 movement in action. I was also made to understand that the date complication in the MT5612 is similar to the one used in Rolex i.e. it has an instantaneous date change mechanism instead of the typical creeping date change system found in many movements. I have yet to observe it in person. By adjusting the time pass midnight, I do see the date jump instead of turning quickly to the next date.

Below are some specifications of the movement as well as an image I got of it from Tudor's website.


Manufacture Calibre MT5612
  • Self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system
  • Swiss Chronometer Officially Certified by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute)
  • Centre hour, minute and seconds hands Instantaneous date with rapid setting without non-correction range Stop-seconds for precise time setting
  • Variable inertia balance, micro-adjustment by screw
  • Non-magnetic silicon balance spring
  • Frequency: 28,800 beats/hour (4 Hz)
  • Diameter 31.8 mm
  • Thickness 6.5 mm
  • Jewels 26
  • Power reserve approximately 70 hours

The Wearing Experience

I am starting to fall in love again with dive watches. In the last two years, I drifted away from dive watches to more formal and non-bracelet timepieces. The Pelagos has rekindle the old interest.

The use of titanium makes the watch relatively light to wear. It is also not excessively wide and thick. It looks good on the wrist and can be used with formal attire.  In fact I have been using it for work for a week without any difficulties. However, I do find a few issues with the Pelagos.

My first gripe with the Pelagos is lack of research on the titanium material i.e. the inability of Tudor to understand the need to strengthen the 'softness' of the titanium surface with a protective covering similar to what's offered by Seiko via its Diashield compound and Citizen via its Duratect compound. Without such protection, the Pelagos is a real scratch magnet. A lot of people might not be able to accept such a situation on their new watch. Not acknowledging customer gripe such as this can impinge on the brand franchise going forward.

I am also intrigue with Tudor's choice of using stainless steel for the case-back. I would have used titanium throughout the construction of the watch. People with nickel allergy specifically search for titanium watches but in the case of Pelagos, it would make it an uncomfortable watch to wear for them.

As highlighted earlier, the slit a long the center of the clasp is a dirt trap. Since the mechanism employs springs, any dirt that slip through the gap can gunk up the internals. The clasp is therefore the most likely part of the Pelagos prone to damage.

Tudor does not use a standardised lug design. Users are forced away from using aftermarket straps. I believe Tudor should facilitate the rights of consumers to accessorize their strap option. By giving the additional strap, Tudor has subconsciously planted the idea that the Pelagos can have different straps to fit the individual choice. However, when consumers want to exercise that right, they are forced to go back to Tudor for alternatives. I serious suggest Tudor also provide a universal lug adapter so that standard straps can be used. I personally would like to use a NATO strap on the Pelagos but as it stands now, I can't.

Despite all the issues highlighted, the watch is still pleasant to wear and can be worn for a long time without getting tired. Below are some photos and a video of the watch on my wrist.







The Purchase

I bought the watch from Swiss Watch Gallery in NU Sentral, Kuala Lumpur. The recent abolition of the GST sales tax in Malaysia made it cheaper to own. The MSRP has been reduced to RM16,490.00 (less 6.0%). I was able to get it for just RM14,017.00.



The Reveal

The packaging of the Pelagos comes in two parts. The first is a cream coloured packaging cardboard box with the Tudor brand and logo painted in white and red on the top surface. In this box is the inner watch box as well as the manual.



The inner box is the main watch box and made out of wood and painted black with the Tudor brand and logo on the top surface. The box hinges open at the back.



This is the first time I've seen a bracelet watch presented with its North-South alignment set in a slot with an East-West arrangement. This screws up the symmetry. You can see the brand and logo properly on the sleeve, you can see the brand and logo properly on the guarantee card that is slotted into the sleeve but you will have to skew your head to read the words on the watch dial. Tudor should look into this.




History of Tudor

Excerpts from Tudor's website on its origins:

In February 1926, the house of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther”, a watch dealer and maker, registered the trademark “The Tudor” for Hans Wilsdorf, the owner of Rolex. Established in Geneva, he acquired the exclusive usage rights from the dealer.

The first watches bear a simple TUDOR signature on the dial, with the horizontal bar of the T lengthened above the other letters. On some rare pieces, the name Rolex also appears. Rolex would effectively guarantee the technical and aesthetic quality of TUDOR watches until the brand attained autonomy in this field. The TUDOR-signed watches included models for both men and women; they were mainly rectangular, barrel-shaped or with beveled sides.

On 15 October 1936, the house of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” transferred the brand “The Tudor” to Hans Wilsdorf. In this same period, the rose of the Tudor dynasty appeared on the dials. Inscribed within a shield, this logo symbolised the invincible union of strength – the watch’s robustness – with grace – the beauty of its lines.

Just after the Second World War, Hans Wilsdorf knew that the time had come to expand and give the brand a proper identity of its own. Thus, on 6 March 1946, he created the “Montres TUDOR S.A.” company, specialising in models for both men and women. Rolex would guarantee the technical, aesthetic and functional characteristics, along with the distribution and after-sales service.

From 1947 onwards, a year after the official launch of TUDOR, the shield gradually disappeared from the logo. Henceforth it would consist of only the company name and the rose – finely drawn or as an applique in relief – thus emphasising the brand’s elegance and style.


The Series


Ref: M25600TB-0001

Ref: M25600TN-0001

Ref: M25610TNL-0001

There are three models to choose from. Apart from the blue or black Pelagos, Tudor recently released the LHD Pelagos in black. LHD stands for 'Left Hand Drive' and the only different is the location of the crown and HEV valve, they are now flipped over for the benefit of owners preferring to wear the watch on the right wrist.


Specifications

1. CASE: 42 mm titanium and steel case with satin finish

2. BEZEL: Unidirectional rotatable bezel in titanium, graduated over 60 minutes with ceramic matt blue or matt black disc and graduations with white luminescent material

3. DIAL: Blue

4. DATE: At 3 o’clock

5. CRYSTAL: Sapphire crystal

6. BRACELET: Titanium bracelet with folding clasp and safety catch in steel with bracelet extension system developed and patented by TUDOR

7. STRAP: Additional rubber strap with buckle and extra extension piece supplied with watch

8. CROWN: Titanium winding crown with TUDOR logo in relief

9. VALVE: Helium escape valve at 9 o’clock

10. WATERPROOFNESS: Waterproof to 500 m (1,640 ft)

11. MOVEMENT: Manufacture Calibre MT5612 (COSC). Self-winding mechanical movement with bidirectional rotor system

12. POWER RESERVE: Power reserve of approximately 70 hours





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