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Thursday, January 9, 2014

My history with Tudor and the new Pelagos

In the early 1990’s, pre-internet, my watch collecting was limited to what I was able to find locally. Unfortunately, in Montreal “limited” is the imperative word, especially at that time. That said, there was this wonderful store down-town called York International that dealt in pre-owned watches and was very willing to trades. Now that I think of it, it is their fault I am a watch flipper… hum…

Anyway, I was a little tired of my Tag Heuer S/EL watch and wanted something different so I popped into York International to see what they had to offer. Nothing really caught my eye except this shockingly HUGE blue diver by a brand I had never heard of. Tudor  Submariner. What is a Tudor. Gus, my enabler, went on to explain that it was made by Rolex and instead of Rolex movements, they use ETA movements. At the time, all this meant nothing to me and I said “so it doesn’t use batteries?”

Here is a picture of the model I had: (but mine had a solid Oyster bracelet)

Pictures found on Internet, not my watch

By today’s standards, it is relatively small, but back in the early 90’s a 40mm watch with a giant protruding acrylic crystal was HUGE, especially compared to my mid-size Tag Heuer S/EL., which would be considered a ladies watch today.  I had to have it, so I did the trade. Hey, you cannot blame Gus for this trade, those Tags were starting to sell like hot cakes and that vintage Tudor had been sitting there a while. Remember, this is pre-internet.

So I wore that watch for a bit and it pissed me off to no end that the crystal scratched so easily. I also did not like the fact that it was tremendously inaccurate. I do not remember what the deviation was, but I was used to quartz and having to reset the time every other week drove me nuts. I wound up trading it for a two-toned quartz Tag 2000 Chronograph a few weeks later. If I would have known that the Tudor would be worth so much today and the Tag so little… ah… hindsight is always…. Sh….t

Anyway, I spent most of that year trading watches with the good folks at York (now called Matt Baileys), until I had almost every interesting watch they sold.  Thinking I had reached the end of the road and again, at the time, no one else dealt in watches in this fashion in Montreal. I kept on purchasing the odd Seiko and Citizen, until I spotted a private seller in the local classifieds (yes newspaper) selling a Tudor Oysterdate for 400$.

I met the guy at a coffee shop (dunkin’ donuts) and fell in love with this one right away. It was all SS with a silver face and an integrated oyster style bracelet. Like my previous Tudor it had an acrylic crystal, but it did not protrude half as much as the Submariner did and by then I had discovered Polywatch. This is still pre-internet.  I offered him 250$ and we agreed to 300$.

Here are a couple of snaps of this watch:

Pictures found on Internet, not my watch

I was very pleased with this one and wore it for almost 2 years without having the urge for something else. In fact, I wore this watch on my wedding day! Then I discovered the internet and a watch seller in the U.S. that many people know with a bulldog for a logo. They had a Kreiger Tidal Chronometer I just had to have. It was so darn cool! I emailed them and offered my Tudor for this watch… I said I found the internet, not commonsense! Of course, they accepted and you know what? I liked it!

Then the real flipping started! Still in the 90’s, I then stumbled onto TimeZone.com and then the sales corners on TimeZone and WatchNet, which were completely separate entities at the time. Those were the days! When real collectors, passionate connoisseurs, shared their knowledge and watches are still very reasonably priced. Heck a Seamaster Professional could be had for under 900$ pre-owned and Rolex Submariner Dates were going for under 2000$! Cool Oris divers for under 500$ and Revue Thommen Airspeeds for 400$. Oh and Minerva had sweet manual wind watches for next to nothing!

Fast forward a half a decade later and in the early 2000’s I wound up with a Tudor Hydronaut. I honestly do not remember what I sold in order to by this one brand new, but the U.S. dollar was so strong that I sold a pre-owned watch in U.S. funds and the conversion into Canadian made it so I had enough to buy a brand new Tudor Hydronaut!

This watch was very nice looking, with amazing angles, hands, dial and case. The bracelet however left much to be desired. I had already owned 50 or so watches with much better bracelets and clasps, so this one really turned me off. That said, it was very comfortable and the size was nice, not to mention it was very accurate.  

Here is a review I did of this watch: Tudor Hydronaut Review

Now fast forward another decade and here we are today. The internet watch landscape could not be any more different. It is not any better or worse, just so vastly spread out. I still see some of the names that have been around as long as I have, but for the most part it is all new. Instead of one main forum where everyone talks about watches, now we have focused / brand specific forums and theme specific forums. And these individual forums each have more members than the old boards had all together.

It is nice seeing so many people enjoying fine timepieces, but at the same time, it is difficult to swallow the prices watches are fetching these days. While I understand currency exchange rates, supply / demand and innovation / technology, I just feel that people’s salaries have not gone up in equal measure. So the affordable has become unreachable for many. Of course, many boutique suppliers have seen to this and now offer products to fill the void. Now imagine if that did not happen? Where would be the watch industry without the boutique brands? Hum…

Anyway, this is not about the state of the watch industry, it is about Tudor and my very latest is this uncanny Pelagos, which I acquired last week. I kind of jumped on this one on a whim and did not really know what to expect. I had seen and read many great things about this watch, but had yet to see one in person. Well, I was immediately floored.

Here are some pics of my watch this time:

The dial has to be one of the most legible I have ever seen.  I do not even mind the black on white date display, as it counter balances the large minute marker on the other side of the dial. The hands are large and clean. The print is perfect and the ceramic bezel is exquisite. The mat ceramic is spectacular and the action is to die for. Really, it is! I read it rides on bearings of some sort, well it feels like it does. No other dive watch has ever been this smooth, precise and solid.

The case is also very well finished with beveled edges in brushed titanium, except the caseback, which is stainless steel. The latter adds a little weight to the head to counter balance the steel clasp. It is so very, very well thought out.  Speaking of the clasps, this one is stupendous! It is as if the engineers / designers at Tudor said “let’s take everything we know about dive watch clasps and throw it in the garbage. Let’s start fresh”. So they did!

The result is incredibly impressive indeed. The features include a ratcheting micro-adjustment system, a diver’s extension with spring-loaded slide adjustment and ceramic bearings to keep things shut tight. It is the most sophisticated non-push-button clasp I have ever seen and it feels so darn good manipulating it. The rest of the bracelet is solid titanium with standard Rolex style screws for adjustments.

I am not sure if I just got lucky or if all of these watches are regulated this way, but mine has only lost 2 seconds in the 7 days I have owned it. This is well beyond chronometer specs and blows away all of my other automatic watches. The crown is also titanium and has the same multiple gasket system as the Rolex Submariner. It also features an integrated has escape valve at 9 o’clock and in case you forget what the dot on the side case is for, it is actually printed “gas escape valve” on the valve.

I did not write all this to review the watch, though I guess I did a little… lol… I just wanted to share my journey in Tudorland and to say they have come a very long way and rightfully deserve all of the recent praise.

I hope you enjoyed the read and pictures.

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