Close Brands, Closer Competition
The legendary Hans Wilsdorf established Rolex in 1905. When he founded Tudor just over 40 years later in 1946, fans immediately put the two brands in competition. For decades, Rolex always seemed to trump Tudor in the eyes of the watch world. However, in more recent years, Tudor has started to receive the recognition its long deserved. Still, watch lovers, like ourselves, can’t help but continue to measure the brands head to head. Here, we’re matching up two models that appear strikingly similar: the Rolex Submariner 18-karat white gold and Tudor Pelagos blue.
The Splurge: The Rolex Submariner in 18-Karat White Gold
At the annual Baselworld show in 2008, Rolex unveiled a brand new version of its iconic Submariner: one in all-gold. The striking all-gold variation came in three selections, one of which was the Smurf, Reference 116619. Yes, this new model instantly garnered an affectionate nickname like so many before it. As the moniker suggests, the 18-karat white gold model boasts a bold sapphire dial and bezel.
Arguably, the all-white gold construction doesn’t create a look that’s dramatically different from stainless steel. However, it certainly creates a distinctly different weight and feel. The crisp white gold perfectly pairs with the sapphire hue decorating the unidirectional Cerachrom bezel and lacquered blue maxi dial. This unique finishing technique is a first for the Submariner. The Ref. 116619 also features an ultra-modern “Super Case,” measuring 40mm. In addition, platinum inserts compliment both the case and Oyster bracelet. On the bracelet, Rolex debuts another first for the model: a Glidelock clasp.
Inside, the model is just as impressive. It houses the 31-jewel Rolex Caliber 3135 self-winding mechanical movement. It’s COSC certified and boasts a 50-hour power reserve. This particular Caliber 3135 movement is also fitted with the brand’s all-new “Parachrom Blue” hairspring. This advancement significantly increases the accuracy of the timepiece. It’s totally antimagnetic, temperate resistant, and shock resistant.
The Steal: The Tudor Pelagos Blue
The Pelagos is a newer addition to the Tudor family of watches, first released in 2012. What set the model apart was its unique titanium construction, a first for the brand. Three years after its debut, Tudor released an all-new variation at the annual Baselworld show in 2015: the Reference 25600.
The Ref. 25600TB introduced both a new blue hue and new in-house caliber for the model. Despite the Pelagos’ more contemporary design, the color scheme is a nod to the blue “snowflake” Submariners of the 1970s. The hue appears on the dial and ceramic insert bezel. The Tudor Pelagos Blue features a slightly larger oversized 42mm case than the Submariner with water resistance up to 500 meters. Additionally, the model features the Pelagos’ signature patented, self-adjusting bracelet clasp.
Though there are a few aesthetic updates between the original Pelagos and the Ref. 25600TB, the real upgrade is inside. Tudor replaced the original ETA 2824 movement with their own 26-jewel MT5621 self-winding mechanical movement. It uses a non-magnetic silicon hairspring that’s temperature resistant and boasts COSC certification. The new movement also gives the model a significant boost in its power reserve, from 38 hours to 70.
Choosing the Best Model for You
While similar in appearance, the Rolex Submariner in 18-Karat White Gold and Tudor Pelagos Blue are two distinct watches. The Sub maintains the classic aesthetic one expects from Rolex. On the other hand, the Pelagos offers a distinctly modern yet refined look that has a more unique appeal. Both models come equipped with an in-house caliber. The primary differences are the case and bracelet material as well as the power reserve. If you’ve been looking for an upgraded sport model with a dressier gold construction, the Submariner is hard to beat. However, if you’re seeking something a bit more rugged and contemporary, the Pelagos is a fantastic option.