Tudor Pelagos LHD Review

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Back in November, Tudor took us all by surprise with the seemingly out-of-nowhere release of the Pelagos LHD, or Left Hand Drive. Inspired by a bespoke model of the Tudor Submariner made in the ’70s for the French Navy, the big and rather unexpected difference between the LHD and previous versions of the Pelagos was that the case had been flipped, putting the crown on the left side. But this wasn’t the only difference, as Tudor also changed around some colors and some details, giving the watch a more stylized appearance than that of its siblings. A style that, to me at least, spoke to a more cult watch concept.

Apart from the aesthetic differences, it’s still the same Pelagos, with a titanium case (and a steel caseback), ceramic bezel, 500 meters of water resistance and the MT5612 in-house movement. It’s Tudor’s most proper tool watch, with serious specs and a mean, utilitarian aesthetic that still speaks to the heritage of the brand, most specifically to the now very valuable Snowflake Submariners. While a bit overshadowed by its more playful brother, the Black Bay, the Pelagos illustrates that Tudor isn’t just a style brand. It shows the company can make a technical dive watch with professional specs.

Well, we somehow have never reviewed the Pelagos (despite having one in the office most days), so it was about time. In the following review, I look at the LHD, but speak about the details generally with a focus on what makes the LHD different. At $4,400, there is no price difference between the models, so it really comes down to personal taste as to which model is right for you.

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$4400

Tudor Pelagos LHD Review

Case
Titanium
Movement
Tudor MT5612-LHD
Dial
Black
Lume
Yes
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Titanium Bracelet + Rubber Strap
Water Resistance
500m
Dimensions
42 x 50mm
Thickness
14.45mm
Lug Width
mm
Crown
7 x 4mm
Warranty
Yes
Price
$4400

Case

The case of the Pelagos LHD features the same design as the classic Pelagos, but has obviously been mirrored, putting the crown on the opposite side. The 42 x 50 x 14.45mm titanium case is larger than Tudor’s best-selling Black Bay, but not overly big, still wearing well. The use of titanium helps with this, bringing the weight down a bit and preventing it from feeling too massive. The 42mm also measures at the bezel, which has a bit of an overhang, making the mid-case closer to 41mm.

Visually, the overall design of the Pelagos case is similar to that of the Black Bay, save the addition of crown guards and a helium escape valve. The mid-case features thick lugs that give it nearly a barrel shape. The heaviness of the lugs is tempered by a bevel that runs along the edge of the case from the bottom of the lugs and up the bezel and back. On the side with the crown, the bevel flows into the guards. This creates a nice flow to that side. Flipping the watch over, you have a solid case back with Tudor/Rolex’s proprietary tool marks. On the LHD, you will find a unique feature, which is that the watch is numbered. This is the first Tudor to do so, which could add to its collectability in the future.

For finishing, the titanium case is fully brushed, giving it a real utilitarian look and feel. This is exactly how it should be finished as it looks great and speaks to the concept. One of the issues I had with the Black Bay was the fully polished sides, which made the watch feel taller and just too shiny. Not an issue here. Tudor’s brushing and overall machining are also top-notch, so all of the lines are razor-sharp and the brushing itself has a beautiful texture.

The bezel of the Pelagos, like that of the Black Bay, has exceptional action, and thanks to overhang it is very easy to grasp (an issue I found with the flush bezel of the Black Bay). It’s wide and relatively flat, with a coined edge for added grip. The mechanism is 60-clicks and uni-directional with a confidence-inspiring snap that always lands right on the mark and has virtually no play in either direction. A cool, but oft overlooked, feature is that the bezel “locks” at 60, requiring extra effort to move it from this position. While the benefit of having it lock is slim, presumably just further assuring it won’t accidentally click over when at the home position, it adds to the overall quality feel of the watch.

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One of the unique features of the Pelagos–LHD and others–is the use of a matte ceramic bezel insert. Typically high-gloss and a bit blingy, ceramic bezels offer high scratch resistance, making ceramic a logical bezel material. For the Pelagos, however, Tudor used a ceramic that has an even, matte finish, which visually makes a lot more sense with the darker, gray titanium and speaks to the tool-purpose of the watch. For the LHD, the color of the luminous paint is then a warm beige rather than the usual crisp white.

The Pelagos features crown guards and a helium escape valve (HEV). The former is a pretty standard feature on modern dive watches, obviously protecting the crown from getting hit from the side. On the Pelagos, the guards are modestly sized and cradle the wide and flat 7 x 4mm crown, but they still allow for easy access. It’s worth noting that the crown, with its wide, screw-down tube, is remarkably nice to use, with a smooth action and easy-to-engage threads. The HEV on the opposite side of the case is more of a novelty than a practical detail, as it only affects saturation divers. But Tudor, like all other brands that use them, do it more to suggest the “professional” capabilities of the watch, which also speaks to the 500 meters of water resistance.

Overall, putting the crown at nine for the LHD doesn’t affect the watch too much. Sure, it’s a little odd looking initially, but that passes quickly, and should you wear it on your left hand, it adds some comfort as there is no risk of the crown pushing into your hand. If you wear it on your right hand, then it simply looks more normal.

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Dial

The dial of the LHD takes the format of the in-house Pelagos and plays with the details a bit for a slightly different outcome. Before getting to the differences, I should note that the dial of the Pelagos is a spiritual update to the Snowflake Submariners of the 20th century, and it’s a properly modern dive dial.

The surface is a satin/matte black and features a raised chapter ring of the same finish. On the lower surface you’ll find the characteristic “Snowflake” markers, a triangle at 12, long rectangles at six and nine, and small squares for the other hours. The markers themselves are applied and feature matching surrounds, rather than the polished ones found on modern Submariners and Black Bays. This small detail has a large visual impact, giving the Pelagos a far more utilitarian style. For the LHD, the markers are a beige color, matching the bezel insert and speaking to aged tritium. This gives the watch an overall warmer, more vintage feel than the other models.

The chapter ring that sits towards the edge of the dial gives the Pelagos a different look from other Submariner-based watches. The ring has two surfaces: a steep outer surface that features a minute/seconds index with no numerals, and a shallower, wider surface that envelopes the markers. This is my favorite detail on the dial. The markers fit perfectly into the cutouts on the chapter ring. This has no real benefit, but it looks great and speaks to the more modern design of the watch.

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At three you’ll find a date window. For the LHD, they did something really cool, and used a “roulette” date disk, meaning that the numbers alternate between black and red. This is something that you’ll find occasionally on vintage watches. Once again, it’s a detail that doesn’t really improve upon anything, but it certainly adds character to the design. On the LHD and the other in-house Pelagos models, the date window is alone at three, where as on the original ETA 2824 version (oft referred to as the two-line Pelagos), the date window is a little closer toward the center of the dial, which gives Tudor just enough room to add a smaller rectangular marker.

While the in-house movement is exceptionally cool and a huge value booster, I do really prefer the original date window placement and added marker. The date window coupled with the marker mirrored the longer rectangle at nine, creating a nice visual balance on the dial. Furthermore, the marker was also painted with luminous material, which highlighted the three in the dark. Now it’s just a void.

At six, you’ll find the Pelagos’ controversial five lines of flavor text. Back on the 2824 models, you just had two lines: “Rotor self-winding” and “500m:1640ft.” Once Tudor put their in-house caliber inside, above those lines you’d also find “Pelagos,” “Chronometer,” and “Officially Certified.” It’s simply too much text, with unneeded details like the name of the watch. The text crowds the lower half of the dial and comes really close to the marker at six, which just seems odd as there is plenty of space above the text block.

For the LHD they helped this a little bit, by making the Pelagos red. This obviously plays off of “Red-line” Submariners, but more important it makes the five lines appear a bit less obtrusive, almost as though there are only four lines. Honestly, while it helps and the red looks cool, Tudor should take a cue from the Black Bay and cut down to three lines for future Pelagos models.

For hands, Tudor obviously went with the classic, blocky Snowflake combination, completing the look the square markers begin. The hour hand has a very distinct wide diamond shape, while the minute is a thin straight sword. Like the markers below, the surrounding edges of the hands are matte and match the beige color of the luminous paint. The seconds hand is then a thin stick with a lume-filled diamond about halfway between the center of the watch and the edge of the hand, also in the beige color. The luminous material is very good all around, and though it’s beige in daylight it glows blue/green in the dark.

Overall, the dial of the LHD–with its different lume color, roulette date and red “Pelagos”–has a bigger impact on the look and feel of the watch than the left-side crown. The Pelagos is a very modern watch, but this colorway clearly has a faux-vintage feel. It’s not over the top, nor is it too obvious. After all, it is a 42mm titanium watch with a ceramic bezel. But it is different from the other models. It’s less clinical looking, and perhaps it’s a bit more aggressive. That’s not to say that it’s better, as the clinical feel of the crisp white and deep black of the original speaks to the watch as an instrument first, object of style second. In the end, it really comes down to personal preference, as both perform equally well.

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Movement

Inside is the Tudor MT5612-LHD, which is a modified version of the MT5612 that you’ll find in the other Pelagos models. The difference here is that the winding stem is on the left, the date wheel is roulette, and the movement has been chronometer certified in positions reflecting left-hand winding. The movement itself is a 26-jewel automatic with hacking, hand winding, a free-sprung balance, a silicon balance spring, 70 hours of power reserve, a date with instant date change, and a frequency of 28,800bph. The movement is also chronometer rated.

Like with the Black Bay (I recommend reading the movement section of that review, as it’s more in-depth than I plan on being here), the use of this movement in the watch is a big deal, as it adds a lot of modern technical prowess and “in-house” credibility at a relatively moderate price. Sure, the watch is $4,400, which is far from inexpensive, but these specs speak for themselves, and even a few years ago would have been unheard of at this price. A 70-hour power reserve is great. A silicon hairspring is non-magnetic and theoretically needs less servicing–also great. COSC speaks for itself.  And there are other benefits that, at the very least, make the movement substantially different from a 2824. Downside? You’ll likely have to go back to Tudor/Rolex to get it serviced.

Straps and Wearability

The LHD comes with a titanium bracelet and a rubber strap with fitted titanium end-links. The sample watch was on the rubber strap, but I’ve worn and played with the bracelet as well, so I’ll go over that, too. The rubber strap is very simple, but very nice, with the titanium end links being a love-it-or-leave-it detail. On one hand, they let the rubber move more freely and give the watch a complete, barrel-like look. On the other, well, they give the watch a barrel-like look. I’m on the fence as I don’t really like rubber straps in general (I just find them irritating), but I don’t mind how the end-links look. It’s very modern, and this is a very modern watch.

The bracelet is where it’s at, though. It’s an oyster-style with a 4mm taper, making it wear lighter on the wrist than a straight bracelet would. It’s finished to match the case, continuing the elegant, but utilitarian brushing around the wrist. The highlight, however, is the patented expanding clasp. This clever little spring loaded clasp is beautifully machined, with ceramic ball bearing snaps for the closure that have a very satisfying click. On the longer part of the clasp you’ll find a slot that is decorated with three dots on one side and a scale of cirlces that increase in diameter, with a metal pinion within the clasp. Essentially, the bracelet can be put into an expandable “mode” (when the pinion is next to the enlarging circles) where the bracelet can increase in size a solid half-inch, allowing for added flexibility and comfort. It really works and is just one of those “why isn’t every brand doing this” types of things. The three dots are then fixed positions, allowing to you micro adjust if you prefer it to not expand. Also tucked away underneath is a diving extension. It’s quite a remarkable bit of practical ingenuity. My only question is why is it only on the Pelagos and not standard on all Tudor bracelets?

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The LHD wears well. It’s not a small watch, but it’s not obnoxiously large either and the proportions are balanced. 42mm is the upper end for my comfort zone for watches, and it’s best suited to divers as the bezels make them read a bit smaller anyway. As a righty who wears his watches on his left wrist, I thought that the left-side crown actually makes the watch more wearable anyway, and it makes it look a touch smaller. The one concern I have is the height. Like the Black Bay, with the new in-house movements the height jumps up to 14.45mm. It’s bearable, but far from svelte, and I suppose more appropriate on this watch, being Tudor’s rugged tool watch, than on the style-focused Black Bay. It’s funny, I’ve heard many a Black Bay owner say, “I really like the Pelagos, but it’s just too big.” The reality is that it’s only 1mm wider and that’s all in the bezel. And honestly,  it wears the same, if not maybe a touch better as the brushed sides and added texture from the HEV and crown guards make it look a bit thinner.

Aesthetically, the LHD is gorgeous. The classic black Pelagos is a great looking watch regardless (sorry, still not a fan of that blue one) and the added warmth and edge from the beige paint and red highlights add to the appeal. I don’t know if I like the LHD more than the traditional version, but it’s a nice, ever-so-slight change of pace that is a touch less sterile. As I said in my article when the watch was first announced, it reminds me a bit of the Sinn EZM 3, which is a watch that is high on my want-list, so the association works for me. Style wise, the LHD’s slight vintage-ness makes it look great with denim, leather, etc. Not that the other Pelagos doesn’t. I could definitely see wearing the LHD on an olive leather or nylon strap to further that vintage feel.

Conclusion

The Tudor Pelagos doesn’t really get the attention it deserves, but it’s probably Tudor’s best watch. It’s not their most popular, as BaselWorld 2017’s Black Bay-centric haul would indicate, but it really shows that they aren’t just a style brand. The Pelagos is a serious tool watch with great specs inside and out that correctly play off of the heritage of the brand. It does the Snowflake Submariner proud. The LHD adds some quirkiness with a bit more extraneous, but welcome style to the mix. It’s neither better or worse than its siblings, but it might appeal to people who want something between the look of the Black Bay and Pelagos, or just want a left-side crown.

At $4,400 MSRP, obviously it’s a serious purchase, but it’s still in the realm of a decent value for what it is. Tudor is working on owning the $3-5,000 bracket and the Pelagos is well-suited to take on other Swiss “professional” dive watches in the same range. After all, it’s the only one with an in-house chronometer movement. At the same time, there are plenty of other great 500m dive watches for less with ETAs, Sellitas, etc., so you have to want that movement, the Tudor provenance and the overall style of the watch. But credit where credit is due, Tudor really delivers on the quality and the look of the Pelagos and, though it’s often copied, it has not been recreated.


For more on the Pelagos LHD, head to TudorWatch.com

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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  • Porter Hudson

    Iconic.

  • goju1

    “The case of the Pelagos LHD features the same design as the classic Pelagos, but has obviously been mirrored, putting the crown on the opposite side.”
    Are you serious? The dial is rotated through 180 degrees.

    • Karellen

      It’s just to give an idea of the effect, it would be boring to say that the dial has been rotated and explain that this makes the crown go on the opposite side, also because it’s all said on the description of the movement. At the end the movement itself is different because of the date wheel (they couldn’t keep the old one because the date window would point in the middle between two numbers) and because of the rotated COSC tests, and anyway the case back is different…

      • goju1

        What I don’t understand is that you have not considered that readers might actually be interested to know precisely what is required in order to make an LHD watch. Instead you oversimplify and mislead. Readers then think that you don’t know what you are talking about…

        • Karellen

          I didn’t write the article, but I know what are the differences between a normal watch and a left hander one, having made one by myself (a Steinhart ocean vintage military). In this case you don’t have a lot to worry about, Tudor offers both models, and even at the same price! To be clear the case might be the same, but it’s not only a rotation of the dial, it has a different lume, and there is the possibility that it even has a different position of the feet. So in my opinion just say that the dial is rotated seems an oversimplification, particularly because it has a lot of different things besides the position of the crown.

    • Hi Goju,

      Thanks for the comment, but I think you missed the point of my description… I was solely discussing the overall all design of the case in the quote you pulled. The case is rotated, but the design remains same. The movement is what has been changed to allow for this, which I describe in the movement section. The dial is ultimately the same too, save the change in colors.

      Thanks,
      Zach