This is how to launch a dive watch — by diving with it. After all my years of waiting for a watch brand to take us diving with one of its new wristwatches, it was Geneva-based Tudor who finally managed to make it happen. The well-paid Rolex lawyers made sure we signed the politest of liability waivers before Tudor took us to Panama Beach, Florida. Why this white-sand resort destination? In short, because of the area’s significance to U.S. Navy diving history. Tudor has a deep link to this history, on account of how many important folks wore Tudor watches that were issued to them by the government. In the 1960s, especially, Tudor was involved with the Sea-Lab program that was related to the development of diving along with applications to NASA’s space program. The Panama City area is also home to the Man in the Sea Museum, which tells much of the same history. The new watch Tudor released on the day of this writing is a version of the Pelagos diver’s watch that is informally in honor of Tudor’s relationship with the Sea Lab program and the U.S. Navy.
Officially, Tudor has given this the same name as the original: the Tudor Pelagos FXD. But for ease of discussion, most are adding “Black” to the end, and it is the reference M25717N-0001. aBlogtoWatch first covered the Tudor Pelagos FXD Black here when it was originally announced. The initial community reaction to the new FXD in black was mixed, mainly because some people wanted something a bit more original or creative, especially given the hype around the release. Tudor attempted a social media teaser campaign that apparently appeared to imply a more groundbreaking product. Tudor doesn’t really need to be disruptive that often and, in reality, the Pelagos FXD Black is both very handsome and very commercial. Priced at not much over $4,000 USD, this is an enthusiast-grade diver’s watch that any conservatively styled man can easily pull off without any issue or need to know anything about timepieces. You can wear the Pelagos FXD and nerd out for three hours straight about its pedigree and the desirability of the Tudor brand, or you can rest well knowing you have a timeless, competitively priced luxury sports watch.
Tudor originally launched the Pelagos diving watch family about a decade ago as a sort of modern answer to sister company Rolex’s popular (and more expensive) Submariner. The Pelagos has since been updated and made in a number of variations including a smaller model, and, of course, all Pelagos models are equipped with an in-house Tudor automatic movement. (Read about my visit to the Tudor watch movement manufacture in Switzerland here.) The Pelagos FXD is a variant of the more mainstream Pelagos, with a fixed lug bar that is designed to accept one-piece pass-thru straps, in lieu of a more traditional lug attachment system. The Pelagos FXD is very comfortable and offers a new way to enjoy the Pelagos family. Tudor needs to keep coming out with new watches, but it also needs to celebrate its pillar models, so each new flavor of Black Bay or Pelagos watches is about that core brand strategy.
The original Pelagos FXD was a blue-dialed watch that is now given a more traditional matte black dial treatment with a matching matte black ceramic bezel insert. The rotating dive bezel has excellent action and now moves in just one direction (the other Pelagos FXD in blue did not); otherwise, this is more or less the same Pelagos FXD but with a new flavor. The watch comes with two textile straps that are single-piece and loop around on themselves to close with a hook-and-loop enclosure system. The straps will naturally wear out over time if worn a lot, and it is clear that you’ll either need to get new straps from Tudor or go to the after-market choices to look for different pass-through straps.
The Tudor Pelagos FXD case is 42mm wide and just under 13mm thick with 200 meters of water resistance. There is really no reason it could not have been made water resistant to 300 meters, save for some marketing reason to help the more expensive Rolex Submariner feel a bit more premium with its 300 meters of water resistance. You’ll pay even more for greater depth resistance from Rolex. The Pelagos FXD case is beautifully made from a single block of machined titanium, and it is easily among one of the nicest titanium cases on the market at this price point. The fixed lugs are elegant-looking, and the watch wears very comfortably and feels low on the wrist.
Seemingly made with tool watch enthusiasts in mind, the Pelagos FXD Black dial has no date and a rotating bezel ring with full markers. All of it is fully lumed and, underwater, the legibility really shines. Over the dial is an AR-coated flat sapphire crystal. Powering the watch is the Tudor caliber MT5602 automatic movement that uses a silicon escapement, operates at 4Hz, and has about 70 hours of power reserve. It is also very accurate and is a COSC-Certified Chronometer. No exposed caseback, or any caseback art. That said, given how the strap attaches to this case, you wouldn’t be able to admire the caseback, anyway.
How does the watch perform underwater? Perhaps the Pelagos was partially tested in the low visibility of Lake Geneva, but the watch seems to excel at being read in murkier water. Tudor took a group of certified divers out to explore a sunken U.S. Navy test hovercraft. The vessel was about 70 feet underwater, which is deep enough for a lot of light to be absorbed. The water was also only modestly visible with a fair bit of particulate in the column going down. However, it was pleasantly warm, and there were copious amounts of wildlife to observe (when it was near you). The Pelagos FXD in black was always so easy to read and a pleasure underwater. Nothing fancy or special, just legible and purposeful. It’s a good diving watch, as Tudor is rightly known for.
To shoot the Tudor Pelagos FXD underwater, I needed a comfortable photographic solution. I was able to borrow a new Oceanic+ iPhone underwater case that did a pretty good job of what I needed, despite my having no prior experience with it.
I took the Tudor Pelagos FXD Black down to 71 feet, which was on the ocean floor. Down there, the water was very green, and it wasn’t always clear what you were seeing in front of you. Nevertheless, reading the time and markers on the Pelagos dial was about as clear as you might expect. The total lack of reflectivity and the high-contrast visuals go together well, making for an ideal viewing experience underwater. Will an automatic mechanical watch replace your dive computer? Of course not, but you’ll find that in comparison to the digital readout on your computer, seeing the analog dial of your diver’s watch adds a layer of enjoyment to any dive. The Tudor Pelagos FXD Black reference M25717N-0001 is priced at $4,150 USD. Learn more at the Tudor website.