After decades of hiatus, Tudor once again returns with a fresh dive watch designed and labeled for Marine Nationale, the French Navy. Enter the Tudor Pelagos FXD, a titanium dive watch that meets a unique set of specifications developed in conjunction with the French Navy’s combat swimmers, the prestigious Commando Hubert.
What’s new over a regular Pelagos, one of the more underrated, yet technically strongest products of the brand? First, the Tudor Pelagos FXD debuts a fixed (FiXeD) lug structure crafted from the same singular block of titanium for added strength; second, it relies on a 120-click bi-directional bezel with retrograde 60-to-0 graduation that, admittedly, does not correspond to the ISO 6425:2018 standard of divers’ watches, but instead meets the specific needs of the method known as “underwater navigation,” one of the specialties of combat swimmers. The bezel is wider than normal “for optimum grip, even with neoprene gloves and hands that are numb from long dives in cold water” and has luminescent graduation throughout.
The titanium case of the Tudor Pelagos FXD measures 42mm-wide, 12.75mm-thick, and 52mm lug-to-lug. The entire titanium case and steel caseback is satin-brushed while the ceramic bezel insert is sand-blasted, probably to minimize reflectivity, something that could draw unwanted attention. The snowflake hands, first introduced in 1969, are also present in combination with the square and triangular hour markers, all to improve legibility and error-proof reading. Waterproofness is 200 meters – more than enough for the Commando Hubert’s specialized divers, who operate just below the surface. In fact, Commando Hubert was the official paratrooper commando unit for the French Navy that, on 30 March 1953, became a combat swimmer unit. The navy blue dial is safeguarded by a sapphire crystal.
It’s cool that Tudor admits that, “Historically, the French Navy had Tudor watches delivered without bracelets and then fitted them with their own straps, handmade or otherwise. Two strap types appear to have been particularly used over the years: black straps made from a single piece of braided nylon and, less commonly, handmade straps made from parachute elastic, which could be recognized by their green color and yellow or red central thread. It is to the latter, ultra-functional relics inextricably linked to French military divers, that the fabric strap of the Pelagos FXD pays tribute.”
Tudor is understandably proud of its woven straps, produced in France on 19th century Jacquard looms by the Julien Faure company in the St-Etienne region. Some 11 years after their debut, these straps take on a new, highly technical construction developed by Tudor and Julien Faure, adapted to the rustic nature of the French Navy divers’ work. Made up of a 22mm navy blue polyethylene woven ribbon with a silver central thread, a titanium ‘D’ buckle, and a self-gripping fastening system, Tudor claims that the new strap and buckle “adapts to different wrist sizes and is very comfortable to wear.”
I personally remain curious as to how these straps actually wear, especially with regard to how that large “D” buckle feels right next to the wrist. Some fabric straps I’ve experienced have offered truly outstanding wearing comfort — the Richard Mille RM50-03 McLaren and the new one-piece Apple Watch woven strap (my review pending) being some of the best examples of excellent wear even over extended use. The Tudor Pelagos FXD comes with an additional one-piece rubber strap in the box with an embossed motif and buckle — a first for Tudor.
The Tudor Pelagos FXD is powered by the Tudor MT5602 caliber, which comes with COSC-certified accuracy, an impressive 70-hour power reserve, a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, and a variable inertia balance with micro-adjustment screws. Tudor goes on to note that it adjusts its completely assembled watches to a -2/+4 second variation that is notably more stringent than COSC’s -4/+6 seconds.
We look forward to discovering how the Tudor Pelagos FXD and its fixed strap bar design wear hands-on. Despite that, and the notable limitations the solid lug structure and strap bar introduce with regard to alternative strap options, it is very cool to see Tudor and Marine Nationale continue their historic partnership — and do so with more than just a labeling exercise.
Price for the Tudor Pelagos FXD is priced at $3,900 USD (3,700 Swiss Francs; €3,860).