The Tudor Pelagos LHD is a very specific kind of watch: LHD stands for “Left Hand Drive,” which refers to the placement of the crown on the left side of the case. This sort of thing really sings to some people and leaves others cold, depending on what your tastes and preferences are. Ultimately, everything depends on how well the details of the watch evoke nostalgia and work from a practical standpoint in the here and now. Thus far, Tudor’s enjoyed a lot of success with its vintage-inspired tool and sports watch models since re-launching in the U.S. in 2013 â let’s look at the LHD and see if it measures up to its predecessors.
The Pelagos is Tudor’s most modern, technical dive watch. It houses Tudor’s own in-house caliber MT5612, with silicon balance spring, the case and bracelet are in titanium, and it has a matte ceramic bezel. There’s also a helium escape valve on the off chance you plan on doing any saturation diving; water resistance is overkill for anything you’re apt to do as a recreational scuba diver, at 500m. The bracelet, lest we forget, is something unique to Tudor: Hidden inside the folding clasp is a micro-adjustment system with three positions, but the clasp is also mounted on a “floating” spring carriage that lets it adjust automatically to your wrist (and you get a rubber strap in the box as well).
The Left Hand Drive model is identical to the current Pelagos in most respects. Other than the placement of the crown, the differences are fairly minor and largely cosmetic. “Pelagos” is in red, and the “roulette” date wheel has alternating black and red numbers.Â
The lume is described as “cream colored” by Tudor, and there have been some objections to this on the grounds that it’s a sort of ersatz vintage look. In theory I agree with this, as I think pre-aged lume in a technical dive watch goes against the premise that you’re getting something whose design should be grounded in practical considerations, but, in practice, the off-white coloration is so subtle that you almost have to be told it’s there to pick up on it. It certainly doesn’t come across as the sort of obvious faux-tina a lot of folks don’t care for.
Left-handed versions of tool watches can be used either by folks who are left-handed or by those who wear their watch on the left wrist but like the fact that a “destro” version keeps the crown from digging into the back of their wrist.Â
Occasionally, divers would wear their watches upside-down on the right wrist, with the crown facing left, ignoring the hour hand, and just using the minute hand and timing bezel. In the picture below (provided by the French Department Of Defense archives) from 1961, you can see a diver wearing a Tudor Submariner ref. 7924 in this fashion. In 1970, Tudor started providing the ref. 9401 as a left-handed model to the French Navy by request. (Interestingly Tudor says it did not provide straps or bracelets with issued French Navy Tudor Subs; deliveries were watch-head only, so Tudor bears no responsibility for our guy below rocking a metal expansion bracelet).
The Pelagos LHD is everything the current model Pelagos is, in terms of offering great value and great technical chops as well. The price is also the same, at $4,400. For a dive watch with all the technical features the Pelagos offers, $4,400 is a stellar price. The small additional cosmetic touches are a nice shout-out to Tudor and Rolex dive watch history too, and they don’t interfere with functionality one iota. This isn’t a limited edition watch, but it is,Â as we mentioned in our launch coverage, a numbered limited production watch. Â
For some there are a couple of potential gotchas: the first is probably the fact that there are five lines of text (not counting “Tudor Geneve”) on the dial. This is a matter of taste, and, as they say, in matters of taste there can be no dispute; if it bugs you, it’s not going to stop bugging you just because it doesn’t bug someone else. It’s not unheard of for there to be a certain amount of extra verbiage on watch dials, of course, and it happens with Rolex and Tudor about as much as it does anyplace else â and it’s not necessarily fatal to the objective value of a watch; Tiffany Rolex Subs can have five lines of text and it hasn’t hurt their prospects in the wide world one bit. I think the fact that “Pelagos” is in red and the other text in white goes a long way towards minimizing perceived clutter.Â
The other possible point to which you might object from a technical perspective is the helium escape valve. This valve is there to address a problem that confronts saturation divers breathing a helium and oxygen technical breathing mix. To review, helium is used in diving gas mixes in place of nitrogen; both are inert gasses that under normal conditions don’t have any effect on the body. Nitrogen makes up the bulk of the air we breathe every day, but if you breathe it under high enough pressure, it gives you nitrogen narcosis (basically, it makes you drunk, as I discussed in an article earlier this year on what happens if you dive too deep).
Divers working with heliox (as a helium-oxygen mixture’s called) are brought to the surface in a diving bell that maintains ambient pressure at the depth at which they are working (the record for saturation diving is 534 meters, set by COMEX experimental divers in 1988). Actual decompression takes place on the surface, in a decompression chamber, where pressure is slowly reduced. Helium molecules are small enough to enter a watch through the case gaskets, but during decompression they don’t diffuse out fast enough to prevent a pressure difference between the inside of the watch case and the outside atmosphere from building up, and if the pressure difference is high enough the result can be damage to the watch (such as the crystal blowing off). The helium release valve is designed to allow built up helium to escape fast enough to keep this from happening.
So is it overkill in a watch that at most is probably going to go only a few tens of meters deep, in recreational diving? Maybe. But then, so is 500-meter water resistance. If you really do need that kind of water resistance, chances are you’re breathing heliox, and chances are you have a use for the valve. If being consistent in terms of functional integrity is the biggest fault the Pelagos has, well, that’s something we can probably live with. (My only gripe in general with Tudor dive watches is this: I wish they’d drill out the lugs. As John Mayer pointed out in his A Week On The WristÂ with the Black Bay, changing straps without a pair of spring bar pliers is a yuuuuuge pain in the neck.)
On the wrist? It’s relatively light, and pleasantly warm to wear (thanks to the titanium construction). In terms of build quality and general ease of use, it’s everything you’d expect from a Pelagos â great.
It is a little weird to have the crown on the left side if you’re not used to it, of course. I noticed this particularly while shooting photos of the LHD â I was several minutes into it before noticing that I was shooting the watch upside down, as I’d been putting the crown on the right. It’s also, if you’re not a lefty, pretty tricky unscrewing the crown and setting the time. That said, I think this would be a very cool watch to wear on the left wrist. In addition to not having the crown digging in, it’s just nice to have something a little off the beaten track in a tool watch â especially in a diver’s watch, where form-follows-function means a certain inescapable family resemblance. As with the standard model Pelagos, if you can live with five lines of text, it’s pretty hard to beat.Â
The Tudor Pelagos LHD: case, 42mm titanium and steel construction; unidirectional ceramic bezel, helium escape valve; 500m water resistance. Movement, in-house caliber MT5612-LHD, COSC-certified chronometer with balance bridge and silicon balance spring; 70-hour power reserve. Even numbered days shown in red, odd in black. Provided with both a titanium bracelet with self-adjusting expansion system, and rubber strap. Visit the Pelagos LHD in all its 500 meter water resistant glory at Tudorwatch.com.