For years now fans of Tudor have been hoping that the brand would make an updated version of their Snowflake Submariner, and I’ll be honest I didn’t think it would ever happen. But it’s exactly what we’ve got with the new Pelagos 39. The newest entry into the Pelagos range hits all the right notes, and as a result, it’s got Tudor’s fans well and truly excited.
What Makes The Pelagos 39 So Special?
If you’re wondering why there’s so much fuss about the Pelagos 39, it all comes down to its dimensions. For many people, myself included, the older Pelagos model is too chunky, with a case that is 42mm wide and 14.3mm thick. In comparison, the Pelagos 39 is infinitely more wearable, with a 39mm case, a 47mm lug-to-lug, and a thickness of 11.8mm.
These measurements are a sweet spot for a lot of people, which is one of the reasons that people are so excited by this release. You might remember that this is exactly the same situation as when Tudor first released the Black Bay 58 in 2018. Whilst a lot of people liked the design of the Heritage Black Bay, they found it a bit large and a bit thick. So, when the BB58 came out with the same design in a slimmer, slightly smaller case, people went crazy for it. The sizing of the Pelagos 39 is also very similar to that of the old Tudor Submariners, which along with the overall design, is one of the reasons it’s being touted as a modern Tudor Sub. Plus, as the case and bracelet are made from grade 2 titanium, the watch is of course exceptionally light, which only helps improve its wearability.
Whilst the case shape is virtually identical to that seen on the larger Pelagos, the case on the Pelagos 39 has chamfered undersides that help make the watch look even thinner, as well as making the watch slightly more comfortable to wear.
You get two strap choices with the Pelagos 39. The first option is the titanium oyster bracelet, which features Tudor’s T-Fit clasp. It’s quite a large clasp, but I don’t find it overly big. Plus, the T-Fit system offers 8mm of on-the-fly micro-adjustment across 5 positions, which really helps you to get the perfect fit. There’s also a diver’s extension so that you can wear the watch over a wetsuit, should you actually want to dive with it.
You also get a complimentary rubber strap with the watch, that uses the end links from the bracelet. The rubber is very soft and exceedingly comfortable, and I have a hard time deciding whether I prefer this strap or the bracelet. However, whilst I think both the standard strap options are great, I’ll still want to try the watch on some aftermarket straps. The only fly in the ointment is that the lug width is 21mm, a somewhat unusual and frustrating choice by Tudor.
A Familiar Design
Now whilst its design is pretty similar to that of the larger Pelagos, the Pelagos 39 isn’t just a downsized version of the older model. The new model retains the toolish all-brushed case finish seen across the entire Pelagos range, but changes up the other elements enough to make the watch feel fresh.
For starters the ceramic bezel insert has a sunray finish that offers some interesting light play, changing from black to grey depending on the light. The dial has a sunburst finish too, but it’s incredibly subtle and it’s therefore barely noticeable. That’s not a criticism though, because it keeps the Pelagos 39 looking like a no-nonsense diver, whilst enhancing the colour of the dial just a little bit.
When it comes to the applied hour markers, on the one hand, they’re pretty boring because they’re just white blocks, but what’s cool about them is that they’re made from a luminous ceramic composite. The snowflake handset is painted white to match them, and the result is a high-contrast dial that’s just what you want on a serious dive watch.
The rehaut has also been simplified over the one seen on the 42mm Pelagos, and it no longer has the hour markers cutting into it. However, it’s still sloped, and with the minute track printed along it, it helps add some depth to an otherwise simple dial.
Another change that’s sure to be popular is a reduction in the amount of dial text, from five lines at six o’clock on the 42mm Pelagos to four on the 39. Four lines are still quite a lot, but by making the word “Pelagos” a vibrant cherry red, Tudor has made the dial feel more balanced, and the pop of colour is a welcome addition to the otherwise monochrome watch.
The Pelagos 39 Vs. The Black Bay 58
Of course, given how similar in size the Pelagos 39 is to the Black Bay 58, and that both watches are divers, a lot of people are comparing the two. And, whilst in many ways they do fill the same niche, I feel that they each give off very different vibes. With its domed crystal, polished surfaces, and gold accents, the Black Bay 58 of course feels vintage, but also quite dressy. In comparison, the Pelagos 39, with its monochrome colour scheme and brushed finish, feels very contemporary and toolish. In my opinion, both watches are approaching the same role from different angles and, though there are a lot of similarities between the two, they couldn’t feel more different from one another.
The Specifications Of The Pelagos 39
When it comes to the specifications of the Pelagos 39 it’s obviously a very capable dive watch. The biggest talking point around the watch’s specifications is that in order to achieve the thinner case, Tudor has omitted the helium escape valve found on the larger Pelagos, and lowered the depth rating from 500m to 200m. It’s a change that makes no practical difference to 99.9% of people, and if the trade-off for a more wearable case size was a lower water resistance then that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
On top of that, the Pelagos has the usual features you expect to see on a diver, with a flat sapphire crystal, and a screw-down crown. The unidirectional bezel has 60 clicks and the action is buttery smooth. As with the Pelagos FXD, both the crown and bezel edge have been redesigned to feature more aggressive knurling that makes them easier to manipulate, and the bezel is slightly wider than the case for the same reason. The lume is absolutely fantastic and lasts for ages. If I had to nitpick I would say that as the markers are solid blocks of lume, they charge more easily than the hands, but overall the dial is still really easy to read in the dark.
Inside the Pelagos 39 is Tudor’s calibre MT5400, an automatic movement with 27-jewels, a 4Hz beat rate, and a non-magnetic silicon balance spring. The movement also features a 70-hour power reserve and is a COSC-certified chronometer. In fact, Tudor regulates the movement to be better than COSC standards, and they state that the movement will be accurate to within -2 and +4 seconds per day.
Though I’m unashamedly a Tudor fanboy, if you read my review of the Tudor Ranger you’ll know that I’m not afraid to call the brand out when I think that they’ve made a mistake. But fortunately, the Pelagos 39 is a complete home run for the brand in my opinion.
It offers all the functionality the average person would need in a diver, in an extremely sleek and versatile size that’s going to appeal to a wide range of people. On top of that, the design is channelling the spirit of the vintage Tudor Subs, and for all intents and purposes acts as a successor to those classic models.
Lastly, I realise I haven’t mentioned the price yet. The Pelagos 39 is £3500, or $4,400USD, which is only £500 more than the Black Bay 58. Given that the Pelagos offers a ceramic bezel, titanium construction, and a T-Fit clasp, I’d say that’s a very fair price indeed. All of which is why I’d go so far as to say that this is probably the brand’s biggest release since the original Black Bay 58.
You can read more about the Pelagos 39 on Tudor’s website here.