Diving In The Details: The Tudor Pelagos 39
The most recent Tudor dive watch release is proof-positive that success in the watch game can often be played out in a matter of millimeters.
Even as a fairly veteran reporter in the watch industry, I continue to be fascinated by new product announcements that seem, at face value, to be pretty minor innovations, but end up taking on an unexpected level of buzz and discussion. Last week’s drop of the 39mm execution of the Tudor Pelagos titanium dive watch is a case in point.
While a slightly smaller Pelagos timepiece is a natural progression for the brand, the attention this timepiece has been getting feels, well, unnatural. But, on closer inspection and with a little time to roll it around visually, Tudor’s press release tagline that the Pelagos 39 lives at the “crossroads between the world of technical diving and urban sophistication” turns out to be right on the money. But there’s even more to the story than that stated duality.
I’ll start off with one of my favorite Tudor dive watch hallmarks that takes on a touch of new impact in the smaller-world dial design of the new Pelagos 39. In lock-step with Tudor DNA, this new 39mm version features the blocky triangular “snowflake”-style lumed hands on the hour and seconds, just as the maker’s dive watches have since 1969. The widened indicators, of course, look great, but they are also rooted in dive functionality.
The extended hand sections let divers read and reference a longer timing interval visually, so they can get a better, quick-glance bead on the leading and trailing edges as the seconds and hours tick away (which comes in handy when you’re monitoring your air supply and diving bottom time). However, from a design viewpoint, and especially on the hour hand, that “snowflake” becomes more like Thor’s hammer as it eases into an even more prominent role on the smaller dial. But that’s just one example.
Life at 39mm
I’ll just say it: Overall, the pure, technically-based dial approach of the Tudor Pelagos just plain works well at the 39mm size. The satin-y sunray finish on the black dial and unidirectional bezel’s black ceramic insert delivers more oomph; the brushed-titanium case has better, tighter impact; the applied monobloc lumed ceramic composite hour markers pop even more. One could say that Tudor has addressed the “urban sophistication” and style-appeal part of the equation simply by keeping this dive watch completely legit, just at a smaller size.
To that point, with a dive watch history dating back to the 1950s, super-pro Pelagos models created for very technical “saturation” diving, and the recent Tudor Pelagos FXD developed in partnership with the French Navy combat swimmer units, legitimacy is a bit part of Tudor’s story. The new Tudor Pelagos 39 flaps its fins right into that legacy.
You can check off the boxes: a COSC-certified MT5400 automatic movement that delivers a “week-end proof” 70 hours of power reserve, a quick-adjusting “T-clasp” titanium bracelet (there is also a technical black rubber strap included) with a 25mm extension window to get it over your wetsuit sleeve, and 220 meters (660 feet) of water resistance.
The tendency in dive watches can certainly run to the macho (big and heavy). But, to my knowledge, there is no rule that says a legitimate dive watch has to leave a big, big mark on the other guy after a bar-fight. At the end of the day, a 39mm case is a perfectly reasonable size for most wrists, even for a tool watch. Remember, there is nothing more stylish than just being real.
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(Images © Tudor)