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Old 7 December 2015, 04:04 AM   #1
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Comparison: Pelagos versus Black Bay Black

The following is a back-to-back comparison of the Tudor Pelagos and the Black Bay Black -- both watches that are real forum favorites, and both are watches that many people cross-shop against each other. I owned a first-generation Pelagos and loved it, and currently own a Black Bay Black and love it. Here are my observations:

Aesthetics -- The Pelagos is a fantastic looking watch. So is the Black Bay. But each looks great in its own way. The Pelagos has a monochromatic, more modern, almost clinical kind of vibe. Its dark gray titanium finish, instrument-like black dial, plain and sober writing, and vivid, stark white elements exemplify the tool watch aesthetic. It looks technical – sober -- deadly serious. In this way, the Pelagos, in its disciplined austerity, could even come across as severe and harsh.

The Black Bay in contrast, with its vintagey vibe, golden features, and more brightly lustrous steel construction, is a bit more classically traditional -- more warm, hearty, and engaging. For instance, the old-style beveled chamfers on the case edges, which both the Pelagos and the Black Bay possess (which no modern Rolex has anymore), are more noticeable and more charming on the steel Black Bay versus the titanium Pelagos. The classic Tudor Rose logo on the Black Bay’s dial, and engraved into its crown, is another element that brings a vintage-style charm and a more cheerful, endearing character. The Black Bay’s proudly domed crystal and slightly “dished” dial are fantastic, and together, add a softer, warmer charisma to the watch as well. Even the curved “Self Winding” on the Black Bay’s dial is shaped like a smile. Finally, the red bezel triangle is enjoyable without being frivolous, and adds a jaunty verve to the overall package. Add it all up, and the Black Bay is just a watch that's really fun and pleasurable to have on the wrist.

If I had to sum it up, each is a great-looking watch, each a handsome, fully cohesive, highly resolved design -- and I believe that each will be an enduring future classic. But, the Pelagos has a design you are forced to respect, while the Black Bay is the watch you fall in love with.

As a side comment -- I believe that Tudor is now the outlet for Rolex to show its creativity and flair in design, in ways that they won't explore with the limitations of the highly traditional Rolex brand. In addition to the Pelagos and the Black Bay, the North Flag and Ranger models also very admirably convey this more adventurous side of Rolex, and I think we all look forward to seeing what else Rolex will have up their sleeve for Tudor in the future.

Size and Wearability -- The Pelagos is a fair amount physically and visually bigger then the Black Bay. Particularly, the watch head stands noticeably taller on the top side of the wrist, and the Pelagos clasp (While a engineering feat and enjoyable) is significantly larger and blockier on the backside of the wrist. Combine these two factors, and I found that the Pelagos “wears” appreciably bigger in real-world usage than a Black Bay. While the Pelagos is a very comfortable watch despite its size, due to its lightweight titanium construction, I found that it did not slip under a dress shirt cuff very easily. Overtime, I found that to be a limiting factor for me. Meanwhile, the Black Bay fits me beautifully, has ideally classic proportions, and its weight on the wrist is perfectly balanced and comfortable. It all comes down to what each individual’s personal size is, your preferences, and your typical shirts you intend to pair the watch with. For me, who usually wears a conventional dress shirt, the Black Bay has a very significant advantage here.

Color -- The direct comparison here is black Pelagos to black Black Bay. The other color choices will come down to personal preference. Personally, on the Pelagos, I'm not at all a fan of the shade of blue they chose, I find it too Smurf-y for my taste and would prove very limiting as to its all-purpose wearability. And on the Black Bay, the red looks a bit (to me) of a novelty color and the blue has a crisp coldness that appeals, but just less so (to me) than the all-black. But hey, color preference is personally subjective, so whatever floats one's boat.


Bezel --
In my experience, they both are quite similar in operation -- and both are about as good as bezel action gets in all of watchdom. Each is precise, crisp, and each is better than the action even on the mighty Rolex Sub. Both also have the excellent “detent” effect at 12 o’clock, that allow you to reset the bezel by feel, without looking. (I love that feature). I’m surprised that some observers notice much difference here between the Pelagos and the Black Bay. The Pelagos does have the advantage of the ceramic insert that’s lumed, yet, the Black Bay’s aluminum insert is perfectly matte and handsomely crafted. The Black Bay also has a nicely subtle polished ring around the perimeter of the bezel that adds a tiny visual pop that the grayer Pelagos doesn’t have. Personally, I call it a tie for bezel operation, and give the nod to the Pelagos for its gorgeously lumed markings.

Clasp -- Both watches’ bracelets and clasps have impeccable build quality, fully equal to their Rolex parentage, and both have the very cool little white ceramic balls that provide the click action that will never suffer from wear & tear. But the clasps themselves (which are both made of stainless steel, by the way) are obviously a significant difference between the two watches. The Pelagos spring-action, adjustable-on-the-fly, innovative clasp is a fun parlor trick and a defining feature of the watch. Yet, in real-world wearing, it’s fun to play with but something I never actually used. Once I dialed in the fit, it’s something I don’t need. And the downside is that the Pelagos clasp is very large, long, and boxy, making it almost cumbersome to wear. Meanwhile, by comparison, the Black Bay’s clasp is simpler, more compact, and more unobtrusive. It does its job with no fanfare, looks & feels great, and I believe has superior comfort & wearability in daily use. So I guess I’d call this a tie. The Pelagos has the fun factor and the novelty, but the Black Bay is, to me, just easier to live with.

Date -- obviously the Pelagos has it, the Black Bay doesn’t. Some people insist on having a date for practicality, others insist on leaving it off for aesthetic purity of a vintage-style diver. So this one has to come down to personal preference. While the Pelagos date is very well integrated in lieu of the 3 o’clock marker, I personally prefer the cleanliness of a no-date dial, whether it’s the Black Bay, a Sub, or pretty much any watch that gives me a choice.

Lume -- The Pelagos has what, to me, is the best, brightest, longest lasting lume of any watch of any price point I’ve ever owned. It’s fantastic. In contrast, the Black Bay’s lume is effective and useful, but less vividly intense than the Pelagos. Plus, the Pelagos has the lumed bezel. Solid win for the Pelagos.

Price (Value) -- Price is not the determining factor between the watches. When considering the fantastic build quality you get, the authentic integrity of their heritage-inspired aesthetic cues, the strong after-sale Rolex service network and the reliably robust resale demand, I believe they both are well priced and represent strong values. And, I personally think that when you weigh all those factors just mentioned, each watch is a knockout punch of value relative to competition from comparable watches by Omega, Tag, Breitling, and let’s face it, the Rolex Sub. So, both the Black Bay and the Pelagos are watches you can feel good spending their respective prices on. Yet, we cannot ignore that the Pelagos costs over $1,000 more than the Black Bay. Are the ceramic bezel and the superman clasp of the Pelagos worth that delta? Only the individual can answer that. Personally, I think the Black Bay is the superior value proposition. It offers an unbeatable combination of quality, features, aesthetics, and brand integrity for the relatively modest price.

Conclusion -- As of this writing, I’ve owned the Black Bay Black for about six weeks, and I’m transitioning from the hot-Vegas-honeymoon period into a mode of deep daily affection and appreciation. We’ve really bonded, and the BBB has essentially become the daily-wear “one-watch” I feel I’ve been searching for for a decade. Meanwhile, after buying the Pelagos this past Spring, at the comparable six-week point in the ownership cycle I was already feeling the roving eye. I was originally hoping to make the Pelagos a one-watch daily-wear piece as well, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Its physical size was the principal stumbling block, but its stark austerity also began to become a pebble in my shoe. The Pelagos, in its disciplined severity, was telling me I needed to go do another 50 pushups and put on a tight black turtleneck with really shiny shoes. While the hearty and cheerful Black Bay says, hey buddy, you’re allright, lets enjoy another beer together. For me, the BBB’s a keeper, and a solid companion!

Hope you enjoyed -- thanks for reading, and cheers!

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Old 7 December 2015, 05:58 AM   #2
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lovely review. thanks. i am more convinced now that i will take the bbn for my first ever Rolex/Tudor.
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Old 7 December 2015, 07:42 AM   #3
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Great write-up and pics! Thanks for sharing. I might get the BBB myself later on (flipped a BBR a while ago).
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Old 7 December 2015, 07:44 AM   #4
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Great review, thank you for sharing.
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Old 7 December 2015, 09:29 AM   #5
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Geat review. The BB is a great daily wearer. THC is very similar in feel and comfort, too.
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Old 7 December 2015, 12:27 PM   #6
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Great review and pictures. I really like my Black Bay.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 7 December 2015, 10:14 PM   #7
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Great review. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I own both the BBB and the Pelagos Blue and like both of the watches. I agree with most of your points but I would give the edge to the Pelagos with a nod to the in-house movement and bracelet and clasp. I also own a Sub-C ND so the Pelagos is a contrast as the BBB is an option.
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Old 7 December 2015, 10:23 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great review. I have a Pelagos and BBR and agree with much of what you said (though I have just had one day with the Pelagos). I do feel that I will use the adjustable clasp on the Pelagos, and think that it's a worthwhile feature. Overall, I view the Pelagos as a bit more of a tool watch and the BB as a bit dressier. Both are great watches.
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Old 8 December 2015, 09:47 PM   #9
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I had the burgundy BB and also the 1-Gen Pelagos.

There is no comparison between the 2.

Pelagos is a better watch by all means...
A true tool watch.

BB black is an interesting watch that can serve the role of a daily watch.
ETA 2824 is a proven work horse movement.
Maybe I will add this in 2016.
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Old 10 December 2015, 08:30 AM   #10
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Both very nice indeed - BBB by a whisker though!
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Old 10 December 2015, 09:06 PM   #11
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Nice comparison - I prefer the Pelagos myself
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Old 14 December 2015, 05:36 PM   #12
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Awesome review, thanks a lot ! For me BBB, but i am a bit biased due to small wrist size.
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Old 16 December 2015, 07:03 PM   #13
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Enjoyed the reviews, cheers!
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Old 19 December 2015, 06:54 PM   #14
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I've owned both, first the Pelagos Black, flipped it for a BBR, and now I've flipped it back for the Pelagos.
I agree with Psmith - great comparison but I had to go back to the Pelagos Black and 1st generation over the new in house movement. I always know the 2824 is going to hold up and inexpensive to maintain down the road.
Plus it's just a beast of a watch - the clasp while chunky to some is something I very much missed, that and the date function is a must for me.
That's why I love watches- different strokes for different folks

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Old 21 December 2015, 01:29 AM   #15
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Wonderful and enjoyable reading Avusblue. Enjoy your choice in good health. Regards.
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Old 21 December 2015, 01:38 AM   #16
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great review , stunning pics too
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Old 21 December 2015, 02:45 AM   #17
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Great comparison.

I own both currently.

I traded a DSSD for these and an Advisor. But I think my following comments could apply to a sub comparison as well.

I liked the "tool" watch aspect of the dssd along with the bit of "bling" that it had from the bezel, hands and markers. To me the Pelagos fills the tool part. The BBblu fills the bling part. And both are far more "wearable" to me than the dssd. I may add a BBred at some point.

Don't get me wrong, I really liked my dssd but this 1/2 combo works better for me.

And the Pelagos lume is awesome.

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Old 21 December 2015, 03:05 AM   #18
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Now that's a watch review! I can get technical details from a million other sources, but you can't find that type of analysis of the intangible very easily. Well done!!

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Old 21 December 2015, 04:34 AM   #19
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Great comparison. I prefer the bbb.

I also disagree that either have better bezel action than a ceramic sub.
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Old 21 December 2015, 05:11 AM   #20
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Great review. I agree with many of your points. I have worn both and currently have the BB Black. For me it really came down to wearability. The case back of the BB is almost recessed and just wears so much better on my bony wrist. I do love the lume on the Pelagos. The bezel looks crazy good in the dark.
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Old 21 February 2016, 10:19 PM   #21
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Thanks for good and well done review.
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that's why I like them."
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Old 5 March 2016, 10:49 AM   #22
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Black Bay for me as well.

Looking at the very nice photos you've taken, it occurred to me that maybe Tudor could have made the dial without the white gold surrounds around the lume on the dial. Surely that would have been more consistent with the vintage aesthetic for which they're aiming?
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Old 5 March 2016, 05:41 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by avusblue View Post
.....and I think we all look forward to seeing what else Rolex will have up their sleeve for Tudor in the future. mean in 2 weeks, Baselworld releases?

Great review!!
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Old 6 March 2016, 04:37 AM   #24
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Great review, thank you for sharing!
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Old 6 March 2016, 04:40 PM   #25
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Awesome review! I own both the Pelagos blue and BB Black. In fact, I loved the Black bay soo much, I went and picked up another black bay. Burgundy baby!!!!!!
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Old 18 May 2016, 04:05 AM   #26
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Great review. Thanks for sharing
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Old 19 May 2016, 01:32 AM   #27
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Great review. I am leaning towards the pelagos blue as blue is my favorite color and that lume is to die for.
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Old 19 May 2016, 02:04 AM   #28
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I agree with the OP. I have the Blue Pelagos and the lume is, by far, the best I've ever encountered. It lasts forever and is sooo bright and detailed. Just brilliant.

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Old 25 May 2016, 07:54 AM   #29
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Great review. Thinking of going for a Pelagos Blue.
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Old 29 June 2016, 10:13 AM   #30
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Nice review. I had the BBR and just didn't work for me. I am more of a tool watch guy. I think the size of the 2 are decieving. I believe they are both 50mm lug to lug. But the Pelagos appears more blocky with the solid case and a little thicker. I tried the Pelagos recently and felt it wore better on the wrist on the rubber strap than on the bracelet. Maybe some owners can comment on that. I am seriously considering as my next purchase. In black, the blue was a bit too much blue for me. Thx
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