The Pelagos FXD is Tudor's latest watch designed for use by the Marine Nationale. But how does it stack up to the hype?
Much like Rolex, in previous decades Tudor watches were a firm favourite amongst military personal around the world. The brand’s reputation for reliability saw many a soldier choose Tudor, and in addition the brand also supplied watches directly to military organisations.
Undoubtedly the most famous instance of this is Tudor’s longstanding relationship with the French navy - the Marine Nationale. It’s a relationship that dates right back to 1956, when Tudor sent some of their first dive watch (the 7922) to the Groupement d’Étude et de Recherches Sous-Marines (G.E.R.S) for evaluation.
This then led to Tudor becoming an official supplier to the Marine Nationale. A relationship that would last until the 1980s, when the brand finally stopped supplying its iconic reference 9401 “Snowflake” Submariner.
Which is why when Tudor announced that they would once again be supplying watches to the Marine Nationale, it caused quite a stir amongst the watch community. We are, after all, suckers for a genuine military-issued watch, especially when it is from a brand as prestigious as Tudor.
And when the watch was finally unveiled back in November Tudor definitely got our attention. The new collaboration, christened the Pelagos FXD, had some very noticeable differences from Tudor’s usual offerings that we’ll get onto in a bit.
Last week I was fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with the new Pelagos FXD through our friends at Fraser Hart, so I jumped at the chance to see it and let you know my thoughts.
How It Wears
I must admit, when I first saw the Pelagos FXD on Tudor’s website, I was a little apprehensive. With a 42mm titanium case and an oversized bezel, I feared that the watch would dwarf my small 6.25” wrist. However, when I tried the watch on, I was immediately struck by just how well it wears. Much of this is thanks to that fact the FXD is only 12.75mm thick, compared to the 14.3mm of the regular Pelagos. Tudor made this reduction in thickness possible by removing the helium escape valve and reducing the water resistance from 500m on the standard Pelagos to 200m on the FXD.
And again, whilst Tudor list the lug-to-lug as 52mm, it certainly doesn’t feel as large as that. This is possibly thanks to the fixed spring bars which give the FXD its name.
Whilst fixed spring bars were fairly commonplace on military issued watches, today they are something of an oddity. The benefit of them is that they eliminate the possibility of a watch being lost due to a spring bar failure. However, the downside is of course that you can only wear the FXD on single pass straps.
The Strap Options
The Pelagos FXD comes with two straps – a rubber and a fabric. As you’d expect from Tudor both are of great quality. The fabric strap sits nicely and is very comfortable. My only complaint is that with my small wrists there was just a touch too much excess strap. The rubber is also very comfortable, but due to its thickness it sits poorly on the wrist. Again, I found I had a lot of excess strap that I couldn’t fold and tuck back through, which is a bit of a shame.
Personally, neither strap is my cup of tea, but the great thing about the fixed spring bars is that it’s easy to swap the strap out for a NATO of your choosing. I think this watch would look incredible on either a grey NATO, or a green and yellow "Marine Nationale" strap, which would be very appropriate for the FXD.
Another thing that I was pleasantly surprised by was the shade of blue used on the FXD. The regular blue Pelagos is much brighter, and to be honest I find it a bit over the top. The FXD on the other hand uses a blue that’s much more muted, and closer in shade to the Black Bay 58 Blue. It’s a great colour that’s nice and rich but doesn’t stand out on the wrist. Combined with the matte white hands and markers the result is a dial that’s one of the most legible I’ve come across.
A further twist is that the bezel is bidirectional to aid in underwater navigation. The graduation on the ceramic insert is also reversed, which makes this a “countdown” bezel. The bezel as been oversized to make it easier to grip, and this is a feature that works very well. Even with gloves on you won’t have a problem turning it, and the action is exceptionally crisp.The movement is Tudor’s calibre MT5602 which has a 70-hour power reserve. Like all of Tudor’s in-house movements this is a COSC certified chronometer with a silicone balance spring. Combined with Tudor’s 5-year warranty it makes for a very compelling technical offering indeed.
For me at least, the Pelagos FXD is a great rekindling of Tudor’s relationship with the Marine Nationale. Everything about the FXD feels like it was designed with military use in mind, and as a result it feels like a very authentic tool watch.
However, that’s sort of the problem I have with it. The watch has been marketed very heavily as a purpose-built military dive watch, but the reality is that very, very few of us will ever use it as a tool. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the watch itself. It’s just that in this instance the almost ridiculous nature of marketing a £3,000 luxury watch as a military tool is particularly obvious.
That said, if you put the watch’s marketing to one side and judge it on its own merits, I think that the Pelagos FXD is the perfect tribute to Tudor’s history with the Marine Nationale. And from a watch enthusiast’s perspective it offers a refreshingly different take on both Tudor’s Pelagos line, and military dive watches in general.
The Tudor Pelagos FXD retails for £2,920 and is available to purchase from Fraser Hart stores.