Sunday Morning Showdown: Tudor Pelagos 39 Vs. Rolex Submariner Ref. 14060
We’re back with another Rolex vs. Tudor face-off in our ongoing Sunday Morning Showdown series. After last week’s battle of the GMTs, we decided it was time to put together a showdown between the Rolex Submariner and the Tudor Pelagos 39. It’s been only two weeks since Robert-Jan and Jorg duked it out over the Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 and the Tudor Pelagos. This week, we decided to follow up on that battle with a similar one between a discontinued Rolex reference and a current Tudor model. Could the Tudor’s Pelagos 39 beat the Rolex Submariner ref. 14060? Make sure you read through until the end and cast your ballot for the watch that you think should emerge victorious.
Looking back at that battle two weeks ago, it was a close call. Actually, let’s rephrase that: it was closer than we expected. In the end, the Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 took the victory with 55% of the votes. But the Tudor Pelagos was never far behind and took 45% of the votes. By popular demand, we decided to continue the battles between Rolex and Tudor. You seem to love them, and we love writing about them because there is simply a lot to discuss. In a third installment, Robert-Jan and Jorg go at it again. This time, RJ brings the Rolex Submariner ref. 14060 to the showdown. Jorg will fiercely defend the Tudor Pelagos and try and convince you it is the better choice. It should be an interesting matchup.
Last week on Sunday Morning Showdown…
But before we get into this week’s showdown, let’s take a look at the one from last week. In a battle between two standout GMT watches, Thomas and the brand-new Seiko SPB383 took the win with 56% of the votes, while Daan and the colorful Mido Ocean Star Decompression Worldtimer took 44%. What stood out in the comments is that many of you prefer the Mido because it offers something different from the many GMT watches out there. But when it comes to practicality, the Seiko easily takes the upper hand. Quite a few of you also mentioned that pitting these two watches against each other was like comparing apples and oranges. Because of this, each one seems to have a group of fans, which resulted in a reasonably close outcome.
So, on to this week’s battle. If you are a regular reader of the Sunday Morning Showdown series, you know that we have featured the Tudor Pelagos 39 before. As a matter of fact, it was part of two previous showdowns. In the first, the Pelagos 39 took on the Tudor Ranger in a battle of the new Tudor models. In the second matchup, the Pelagos 39 took on its bigger brother, the standard Pelagos. The Submariner was also featured twice in the series. The first was a match-up against the rivaling Omega Seamaster Professional 300M, and not too long ago, the Submariner went up against the Tudor Black Bay. In that last match, the Sub won with 56% of the votes. Is the Pelagos 39 going to be the Tudor that can beat a Rolex? Let’s hand it over to Jorg and Robert-Jan to make their cases.
Jorg: Tudor Pelagos 39
Here we are again, Robert-Jan. Another Tudor vs. Rolex battle. Your Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 won against the Pelagos in our previous showdown, but I have a feeling that this might be closer than last time. The Pelagos 39 is one of the most popular watches of last year, so a good result might be around the corner. I have defended the Pelagos 39 before in the aforementioned battle against the standard Pelagos. Since then, my love for the watch has grown even bigger.
As I explained in our previous battle, I have come to love the story of the vintage Tudor Submariners more and more. After ignoring it for the longest time, it genuinely has become a story that I greatly appreciate. In particular, the design history is massively interesting and where the uniqueness of Tudor lies. By now, we all know of Tudor’s connection with the Marine Nationale. That relationship has led to the designs that have grown into a unique and instantly recognizable style that I love. And I like that Tudor consciously decided to use the style from the archives of Rolex and Tudor for its Black Bay line and use its unique design for the modern-day Pelagos collection.
The design of the Pelagos 39 speaks volumes
The modern version of this design in combination with the titanium construction creates a watch that, in my opinion, is visually more striking than the trusted but rather boring Rolex Submariner ref. 14060. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Sub for its history and the design standard it set for dive watches as we know them today. But the ref. 14060 is simply not the most exciting execution of that design. I much prefer the style of the previous ref. 5512/5513 for its vintage vibes or the ref. 114060 that came after with its updated design, “super” case, and “maxi” dial. The Submariner ref. 14060 is still a nice watch, but visually, it is nowhere near as exciting as its Rolex counterparts or the Pelagos 39, for that matter.
Let’s remind ourselves of some of the basic specs. The Pelagos 39 features a 39mm Grade 2 titanium case with a full-titanium bracelet. The case has a slightly bigger bezel that measures 40mm across, and the case is 11.8mm thick and 47mm from lug to lug. As a fully licensed desk diver, I want my Pelagos to be a versatile daily wearer, and that versatility is exactly what this Pelagos 39 offers. The watch is water resistant to 200 meters, which is way deeper than I would ever go. The use of lightweight titanium makes the watch very wearable at just 107 grams, which is perfect in various situations. It also comes on an incredibly comfortable titanium bracelet that boasts an impressive T-Fit clasp.
A black sunburst dial for maximum impact?
Tudor equips the Pelagos 39 with its Kenissi-produced and COSC-certified caliber MT5400. This very capable and accurate modern automatic movement is the perfect fit for a watch like this. It offers a great 70-hour power reserve and an accuracy of +4/-2 seconds per day. With the absence of date windows in this battle, I am reminded once more of the power of Tudor’s unique dial design with a full set of square and rectangular indices. The layout is supremely symmetrical, and the stark white shapes in combination with the instantly recognizable snowflake hands perfectly contrast the black sunburst dial.
I know a lot of people had issues with the sunburst dial and sunburst ceramic bezel insert. The purists found it unnecessary on a dive watch. Proof of that is its bigger brother, which has plenty of appeal with a matte black dial without any extra visual effects. In the battle of the Pelagos models, I explained that it’s the one visual point of the Pelagos that often has me doubting. The matte black dial makes the Pelagos look rather lifeless sometimes. Granted, I was a bit apprehensive of the Pelagos 39’s dial at first too. A black sunburst dial can be too shiny and flashy. And a sunburst texture on a bezel inlay too? Well, seeing is believing.
The Pelagos 39 is the perfect modern daily wearer
As soon as you see the watch in the metal, you immediately realize that the texture adds to the watch’s depth and presence. The finish has great finesse and adds more texture than any loud sunburst effects you might be afraid of. I think Tudor hit it out of the park by adding that to the Pelagos 39. It elevates the watch to a piece that’s interesting to wear every day and look at from any angle. Speaking of the bezel, from some angles, it looks grayish, like a ghost bezel. This visual element makes the Pelagos 39 much more interesting than the Submariner ref. 14060.
And no, as it turns out, I am not a purist. Not in the slightest bit. As I mentioned, I am a certified desk diver who wants a watch to be a great daily wearer in terms of visual appeal, daily practicality, build quality, and technical performance. I don’t base my choices on how other people think a watch should look or the specs that they think it should have. While those are nice indicators and I do take them to heart, in the end, it’s all about how a watch makes me feel. And I have to say that the Tudor Pelagos 39 greatly impressed me once more when I had a chance to experience it up close again recently. With a design firmly rooted in the brand’s history, great modern-day execution, and fantastic overall quality, this is the perfect modern daily dive watch at €4,590. I do not see the need to spend double that on a far less exciting Rolex Submariner ref. 14060.
Robert-Jan: Rolex Submariner ref. 14060
A big disclaimer up front is that I am not a fan of the Rolex Submariner Date 16610. Its predecessor, the ref. 1680, was more to my liking, but alternatively, I always liked the Submariner 14060(M) or the Sea-Dweller 16600 better. I can’t properly explain why I don’t care for the Submariner Date version of that era, though. The “Kermit” (16610LV) is a bit better in my opinion, probably due to the “maxi” dial. Anyway, I briefly considered the Rolex Submariner 14060 back in the day but ended up buying the Sea-Dweller 16600 in 2003.
Rolex Submariner 14060 iterations
One of the reasons back then was that the Sea-Dweller had the helium valve, a date (but no Cyclops), and the chronometer-certified movement. At the time, the Submariner 14060 had a non-chronometer movement. It was Rolex’s caliber 3000, which was also used in other models.
In 1999, Rolex upgraded the Submariner 14060 with caliber 3130, and it became the 14060M. This 3130 movement was still not chronometer certified, but in 2007, Rolex fixed that. The movements were sent to the COSC for the certification procedure, and Rolex added “Superlative Chronometer” to the dial, making it a “four-liner.” Reference 14060(M) was the successor of the Submariner 5513 and was in production for approximately 20 years (starting in 1990).
It’s certainly not cheap, but it is beautiful
After 2010, this watch was succeeded by the ceramic-bezel Submariner 114060, which I did buy a few years later. However, the more modern Submariner was not for me, so I sold it a few years later to fund another five-digit Rolex again.
Today, the market prices for the Rolex Submariner 14060 are much higher than they were back then, which is close to what Tudor currently asks for its dive watches. In a way, that’s also how I think of Tudor these days — it’s the Rolex of the 1990s. Perhaps Tudor’s quality today is even better than Rolex’s was back then, especially when it comes to the bracelet with its modern clasp. But one thing that remains in favor of the Rolex, in my opinion, is the design, or rather, the style of the watch. Despite the Tudor Pelagos 39 being an impressive watch with its titanium case and bracelet, it’s the Rolex that has this unmistakable design and attraction. Many brands have tried to imitate the Submariner, but I can’t think of any that hold a candle to the original.
They never failed me
Oh yes, the Pelagos 39 has a relatively friendly price tag, even after the 9% price increase to €4,590. The market value for the Rolex Submariner 14060(M) is around €8,000, and it’s even higher if the watch is in New Old Stock (NOS) condition, of course. But desirability does strange things to a person, and many will still go for the Submariner despite the hefty price tag. And I would do so as well, in all honesty. I refuse to pay over retail for a new watch, but when a watch is discontinued and I feel the price is justified, I don’t mind paying more than what it once said on the price tag.
In my opinion, the only downside of these five-digit Rolex sports models is the bracelets. They rattle when you wear the watch, the older ones have hollow end links, and the clasps feel flimsy. Despite that, they have never failed me, and they feel incredibly comfortable on the wrist.
Not a chronometer
The Rolex Submariner 14060 we have here dates to 1992 (N-serial) and belongs to one of our editors. It has a dial and hands with tritium lume, and it does not have the chronometer-certified movement. But it’s a great movement nevertheless. A COSC certification, although acquired “for life”, might not reflect the performance of a movement over time, but a good watchmaker will be able to regulate it to a rate within the chronometer standard. I am pretty sure the same can be achieved with this non-chronometer caliber 3000 — if that matters to you, that is. The Tudor MT5400 movement that we find in Jorg’s beloved Pelagos 39 is chronometer certified, so it has an advantage there. However, if you accidentally smack it on a table (hard), this and any chronometer movement will be off.
It simply doesn’t have the same appeal as a 14060
This is a bit of a weak defense, I know. In all fairness, I don’t have much against the Pelagos. I think it’s the best line in the Tudor collection, and I have written before that I wouldn’t mind owning the LHD version. I simply prefer steel over titanium, and with regards to the Pelagos 39 we have here, I don’t like a sunburst dial on a tool watch. The same applies to the finishing on the bezel of the Pelagos 39; it’s not for me. If it were completely matte, chances are good that I’d consider it.
That said, I walked into a beautiful watch boutique in The Hague yesterday (Manbodh Watches), and there were about half a dozen Submariners on display, from a vintage 6535/1 to a few 5513s and later five-digit references. And I must admit that the sight of those vintage and neo-vintage beauties made my horological heart tick faster, which is something I don’t experience with a Tudor Pelagos 39. Despite it being a great watch, its looks are quite clinical, and it simply doesn’t have the same appeal to me as a 30-year-old Rolex Submariner.
The last time I took part in our Sunday Morning Showdown series, I just barely won (55% vs. 45%) with my Sea-Dweller 16600 versus Jorg’s 42mm Pelagos. As Jorg indicated, it might be even closer this time, or perhaps the Pelagos 39 will even win. It’s all good, but that doesn’t change my sentiment regarding the classic Rolex Submariner 14060. Even at today’s (steep) market price, it’s an iconic diver that will bring that extra sparkle to your life. This sparkle can’t be explained in modern specifications. With a watch like the Submariner 14060, you have a companion for life. Happy voting!
Time to vote!
There you have it, folks — another battle of Rolex versus Tudor, with the two popular dive watches going toe to toe for the win! Will it be the iconic Rolex Submariner ref. 14060 that gets your vote? Or are you an uncompromising fan of the modern Tudor? Make sure to vote for your choice below, and let us know why you picked it in the comments as well. See you next week for another installment of Sunday Morning Showdown!