Tudor Pelagos or Rolex Submariner: Which Dive Watch to Get?

Jul 09, 2020
Tudor Pelagos or Rolex Submariner: Which Dive Watch to Get?

Both the Tudor Pelagos and Rolex Submariner are highly regarded in the watch community. Indeed, people often find themselves comparing these two when choosing a dive watch. The Submariner’s reputation is well known. However, the Pelagos is not exactly what you would call the popular watch.

If you’re wondering how this diver compares against the almighty Sub, then you’re in the right place. Read on to find out which diver is right for your needs.

How the Submariner Influenced the Tudor Pelagos

In case you didn’t know, Rolex and Tudor are sister companies. So it is inevitable that their histories are linked together. Let’s find out how the Rolex Submariner inspired the Tudor Pelagos.

Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner 9401, Tudor Pelagos Influences
Photo from Tudor

An Affordable Sub

During the ’50s, the Rolex Submariner was already making its name. Indeed, the model has defined the dive watch category in a lot of ways. Come to think of it, whenever someone asks you to picture a dive watch, you’ll most likely imagine a watch that was influenced by the Sub.

Now, here is where the Tudor Pelagos comes into play. When the momentum for the Submariner started building up, Hans Wilsdorf wanted to create an affordable version of it. Surprisingly, he gave it the same name, making it the Tudor Submariner.

Although the Tudor counterpart was fitted with more affordable materials, it still made use of Rolex’s very own watertight Oyster case. With that said, it became the French Navy’s affordable kit up until 1981.

Tudor Pelagos, Luxury Watch, DIve Watch, Water-resistant Watch

The Modern Tudor Pelagos

The modern Tudor is very different from the company it was when it started decades ago. Indeed, Hans Wildorf originally meant it as an affordable Rolex. And legally speaking, both companies are the same. However, Tudor has evolved — and continues to evolve — into its own brand.

Years after its release, the Tudor Sub branched out into different dive watches. One is the vintage-looking Black Bay, which looks a lot like its ancestor. And the other is the Tudor Pelagos, which is more modern-looking.

Speaking of aesthetics, the Pelagos is often seen as the more rugged model. This is due to its advanced materials and features such as the higher depth rating.

While it’s true that the Pelagos has a more contemporary design, it did not stray too far from its roots. In fact, it borrowed a lot of design cues from the classic Tudor Submariner like the Snowflake hands which we will talk about in more detail in a different section below.

What’s in a Name?

Apart from building watches, there’s another thing that Rolex and Tudor are good at. It is giving their watches catchy and appropriate names. Take for instance, the all-green Hulk and the blue-and-red Pepsi of Rolex.

In this case, the Pelagos was named after its natural habitat — the sea. Yes, the literal translation of the Greek word Pelagos means ‘sea’ in English. This is to highlight the watch’s origins and diving capabilities. True enough, the Pelagos lives up to its name as it is one of the most reliable dive watches in the market.

Tudor Pelagos vs Rolex Submariner 

Now that we’ve got the history down, let’s take a look at how these watches compare with each other.

1. Size and Weight

In terms of size, the Tudor Pelagos is slightly bigger than the Rolex Submariner. While the famous Sub is only 40mm, the former is 3 extra millimetres, making it 43mm. 

Seeing these dimensions on paper, it looks like the Pelagos is a lot heavier than the Sub, which might put off some buyers. However, it is important to note that the case of the Pelagos is made out of titanium. Making it lighter than expected. Apart from that, it is also thin enough to be able to slide inside your shirt’s cuff.

On the other hand, the Rolex Submariner comes in various materials. Some variants are made of stainless steel while some are made of precious metals like yellow gold. This variation causes slight differences in the watch’s weight.

Both of these models are tool watches — dive watches, in particular. Which means that they are supposed to be bulky for durability purposes. However, Rolex and Tudor put in the effort to make these watches as comfortable as possible. In fact, these watches are refined enough to be socially acceptable to wear with a blazer.

2. Case

When it comes to the case, you have more options with the Submariner. The most common variant is made of Oystersteel, which belongs to the 904L steel family. It is highly resistant to corrosion and is sometimes considered on par with the durability of precious metals. But if you’re not too keen on steel, Rolex also made the Submariner available in yellow gold.

On the other hand, the case of the Tudor Pelagos is made entirely out of titanium. It’s a nice choice since it makes the watch lightweight and durable while keeping the price tag low. 

Apart from those functions, the material also influences the watch’s design. To demonstrate, it gives the Pelagos a matte satin finish that a lot of people adore.

3. Dial

The Tudor Pelagos and Rolex Submariner might look similar from afar. In fact, a lot of people say that all divers look the same from ten feet away. However, if you look closely, they have a lot of subtle differences when it comes to the dial. Let’s take a closer look at those differences and see which one appeals to you more.

Rolex Submariner Dial, Tudor Pelagos Comparison

Rolex Submariner’s Dial

The most obvious differences between the two are the hour markers and the hands. Sticking to the classics, the Submariner uses round hour markers. Meanwhile, the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions are made with small rectangles and the 12 o’clock is an inverted triangle. 

Furthermore, the Sub bears the brand’s signature Mercedes hands. To illustrate, it is the three-pointed star embossed at the circle near the hour hand’s tip. And it looks like the Mercedes Benz logo, hence the name.

Apart from those, the Sub is also available in a date and no-date versions. As usual, the date window features Rolex’s very own Cyclops. While some fans claim that the date variant gives off a more classic Rolex look, others claim that the no-date model stays true to the very first Sub.

These design cues are very typical of classic divers from the ’50s. If you’d notice, a lot of the divers back then look alike. For instance, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and vintage Oris divers also make use of round indexes. So to conclude, the Rolex Submariner’s design will appeal more to you if you’re into retro-looking watches.

Tudor Pelagos snowflake hands

Tudor Pelagos’ Dial

No doubt that the Sub is the epitome of a classic dive watch. However, in the Tudor Pelagos’ case, they went with a very unusual route. Instead of round indexes for the hour markers, they chose square ones.

Indeed, very few watches have square hour indexes, so this is a great way to make your watch stand out. But just because it’s out of the ordinary doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good. In fact, the whole design seems to blend well together.

Moreover, the Pelagos also makes use of what we call the “Snowflake hands”. The logic behind this design is to provide better legibility. Tudor believes that the distinct shape of the hands will help people identify them from the other elements of the dial. In fact, some reports even say that the Snowflake hands came from the French Navy’s request.

All things considered, these design cues helped Tudor in developing their own style that separates them from Rolex. Whether or not you love the design, it has become Tudor’s signature and is most likely here to stay.

3. Movement

There’s no doubt that both Tudor and Rolex are reputable brands. Especially when it comes to the movement’s accuracy and precision. Let’s check out what calibres power these watches.

Movement of the Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner is fitted with either the Calibre 3130 for the no-date version or the 3135 for the date version. Both movements are considered reliable. In fact, the only difference between these two is the additional date complication for the latter.

Both movements use a total of 31 jewels and can power the watch up to 48 hours. Apart from those, it offers a notable resistance to shocks due to its Parachrom hairspring. Furthermore, the movements’ parts are made with rhodium-plated brass to resist corrosion and prevent moisture damage.

Lastly, the movements hold a COSC certification, which assures its accuracy. And if you’re wondering about the numbers, its accuracy rating clocks in at +2/-2 seconds per day.

Movement of the Tudor Pelagos

On the other hand, the current version of the Tudor Pelagos runs on the MT5612. As mentioned above, the Pelagos is one of the first Tudor models to receive the in-house treatment. With that said, this calibre meets COSC standards. Apart from the certification, the calibre can power the watch for up to 70 hours and beats at a frequency of 28,800bph.

Furthermore, it is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with a silicon balance spring. This oscillator is held in place by a traversing bridge to make the watch more resistant to vibrations and shocks.

Pros and Cons of Each Watch

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner

Pros:

1. More Prestigious

The Rolex Submariner is a watch that needs no introduction. It’s a guarantee that a lot of people know it and even desire it. Even outside the watch community, it is highly revered. If you wear it outside, be prepared to hear the “oohs” and “ahhs” from passersby.

While it is true that Rolex and Tudor are basically the same company, the former receives all the glory. No doubt, the big crown on your watch’s dial will catch a lot of attention. In fact, other people see owning a Rolex as a status symbol.

2. Better Investment Value

Sometimes, a high price tag can come with an advantage. And it comes in the form of good resale value. Rolex is one of the few watch companies that are consistent when it comes to retaining the values of its products. Which is why a lot of people get away with selling Rolex watches twice its retail price.

If you are not a hundred percent certain that you want to keep the watch for life (i.e. there’s a chance you might sell it in the future), this can be a major factor. If truth be told, you can even earn back the money you originally spent on buying it and more.

Cons:

1. More Expensive 

One of the advantages of the Submariner can lead to a disadvantage if you’re on the buying end. As mentioned above, Rolex offers great investment value. And a better resale value means a higher price tag. If your local AD doesn’t have the Submariner in stock, this can mean paying more than usual.

2. Harder to Find

Rolex has a lot of fans all over the world. In fact, too many that the buyers outnumber the watches produced. This makes it fairly difficult to buy a Rolex watch, especially if you’re eyeing a brand new one.

If you’ve hung out long enough in the community, you might have heard of people putting their names on the waitlist hoping to receive a call informing them that there’s an available watch. However, it may take too long. Some even claim that they received the call after one whole year!

But if not having a brand new Rolex is okay for you, you can resort to online sellers. However, this can also be frustrating as you have to research the seller’s credibility.

Tudor Pelagos

Tudor Pelagos

Pros:

1. More affordable

Staying true to Tudor’s company vision, the Tudor Pelagos is the more affordable option. Of course, that’s not to say that it is as cheap as a Seiko diver. But its price tag is significantly lower than that of a Submariner. 

2. Easier to find

It’s a given that Rolex is the more popular sibling of the Tudor. But that doesn’t have to be bad news. In fact, you can even turn it into an advantage. Less demand means more stocks and all things considered, the Tudor Pelagos is easier to find. Most likely, the model is readily available in an authorised distributor.

3. Bang-for-Buck

As mentioned above, one of the main selling points of the Pelagos is its price. However, that does not mean that Tudor skimped on its quality. In fact, it boasts a lot of features that you would expect from more expensive watches.

A few of those features are the in-house COSC-certified movement and the 500m water resistance. To conclude, you’re getting a lot more than what you pay for with the Pelagos.

Cons:

1. Design is Not for Everyone

Aesthetically speaking, the design of the Tudor Pelagos is polarising. While the intention of the square-shaped hands is nice, a lot of people are turned off by it. However, this point is highly subjective as there are some people who have grown fond of the design.

Which Diver Should You Get?

Tudor Pelagos

Get the Tudor Pelagos if…

The Tudor Pelagos is a no-frills tool watch that takes its job seriously. Indeed, it is a very capable dive watch and it definitely looks the part. Despite being less popular than the Rolex Submariner, this dive watch offers a big bang for your buck. 

With that said, you should choose this watch if practicality and value for money are on top of your list. Sure, a lot of people might say “what’s that?” when you show it off. And you might not get as many stares from people when you wear it outside. But you’ll feel a different kind of satisfaction knowing that you paid less for a watch that is almost on par with the Submariner.

That’s not to say that the Pelagos receives no attention at all. In fact, it is still highly-regarded within the watch community. It may not be as prestigious as Rolex for now, but a lot of people are seeing the potential of it becoming a cult classic in the near future.

Rolex Submariner, dive watches

Get the Rolex Submariner if…

Rolex has proven again and again that their watches deserve all the hype. With that said, there is no question about the Submariner’s quality. And along with its quality is the glory and prestige. It is even dubbed as the most copied watch design.

As has been noted, the Submariner can be likened to a Ferrari. It is “the watch” to get. It is the default model that people answer when asked what watch they want. Apart from that, the Rolex Submariner boasts a rich history that other watch brands envy.

In my opinion, you should get the Rolex Submariner if you’re not only after the timekeeping purpose of the watch. This is the watch for you if you want to own a small piece of horological history. Yes, the Sub may be hard to acquire but the experience of owning one makes it worth it.

Final Notes

Both the Rolex Submariner and the Tudor Pelagos are capable dive watches. While they share the same ancestor, they exhibit subtle differences and they shine in their own ways. 

When choosing between the two, it all boils down to what you want with a watch. Do you want a classic prestigious watch that is seen as a status symbol? Or do you want a bang-for-buck contemporary watch that is low-key yet reliable? Either way, you can’t go wrong.

 

Interested in more Tudor models? Check out our guide on the Tudor Black Bay 58!

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