After being spotted on the wrist of David Beckham two weeks ago, the Tudor Pelagos FXD has been officially unveiled, delivering at least a few big surprises. Yes, it was clear from that original image leak that the new reference would not have a date window, and that it would be offered with a countdown bezel (unlike most 60-minute timing bezels found on dive watches), but there’s a lot more to it. Tudor has long had connection with the French Navy, having been an official supplier of the Marine Nationale from 1961 though into the ’80s. The brand has since gone back to the naval organization for input on this latest model, and we have to say that we’re impressed with the end result.
One thing worth immediately calling out here is the price of entry on this latest in the Pelagos line. Coming in at $4,450, the Pelagos FXD is just shy of $800 cheaper than any of its siblings — a nice change of pace in an industry where anything new and different tends to come with an increased sticker price. That said, the difference does make a fair bit of sense. In contrast to its siblings, the new FXD is not able to be fitted on a metal bracelet, and those titanium bracelets tend to cost a pretty penny.
Why no bracelet, you ask? Well, rather than using spring bars or removable screwed bars to retain its strap, the Tudor Pelagos FXD’s case is machined from a single block of titanium, with a slot cut out at either extremity to fit its 22mm fabric or rubber strap (both straps are included with purchase). This design is far more about utility than it is practicality. When diving, a hard bump in the wrong place can bend a spring bar, and if that happens you can pretty much kiss your watch goodbye. Sure, you can argue that 99.9 per cent of buyers of this watch aren’t hardcore divers, but given that the French Navy’s combat swimmers were involved in its design, we’re not mad about the choice.
While extremely uncommon, the solid case method is not unique to Tudor. In recent history, we’ve seen this design method used by a couple of more approachable indie brands, including the recently released Ianos Watches Mihanikos, and the earlier generation of the Autodromo Group B. The newly designed case measures 42mm across, 12.75mm thick, and 52mm from lug to lug. That said, having strapped it on my modestly sized wrist, that long lug-to-lug spec is a hard one to believe. As an owner of Tudor’s original Black Bay (41mm), the new FXD feels like it’s the same size if not a touch smaller than its older brother.
Once again Tudor has turned to the French workshop of Julien Faure to produce the FXD’s textile strap on 19th century Jacquard looms. Opting for a hook & loop style fastening, the strap is a bit more technical in nature than the past fabric straps that Tudor and Faure designed for the Black Bay collection, but in turn it is no less comfortable on the wrist. There is also a single-pass rubber strap included with the purchase of the Pelagos FXD, however buyers can also fit any sort of one-piece strap to the watch, so long as it comes in a 22mm width.
Another factor that could potentially contribute to the price decrease on the Tudor Pelagos FXD is its depth rating and lack of ISO certification as a dive watch. That’s not to say that it’s not at all capable of going diving — quite the contrary. The French Navy divers involved in this build run in relatively shallow waters, and use their timing bezels as means of navigation rather than for timing decompression stops as they return to the surface. Due to this, a 200 metre depth rating on the watch was more than sufficient, and for navigation/mapping a bi-directional rotating countdown bezel is more suited to the task. For those wondering, the bi-directional bezel is the one element that doesn’t pass the ISO’s protocols. Tudor’s exploratory page on the new reference gets right into the nitty-gritty of this navigation technique, should anyone be looking for a deeper dive into the matter. For added practicality, the new bezel design is a touch broader to increase both legibility and ease of use when wearing a wetsuit, and all of its indices have a hefty coating of grade X1 Super-LumiNova luminous material for increased legibility in poor lighting conditions.
Sticking with the brand’s focus on in-house manufacture calibers, the FXD has been fitted with Tudor’s COSC-certified MT5602 automatic movement, delivering a 70-hour power reserve. Tudor does go a step further with its movement regulation standards as one would likely expect. While a standard COSC movement is regulated to between -4 and +6 seconds per day — tested as the movement before casing — Tudor’s final regulation promises a running range of between -2 and +4 seconds of daily variation. After so much time seeing Tudor focus on the Black Bay model line, it’s a nice change of pace to see the more tool-focused Pelagos getting some love. The big question now is whether or not Tudor will be adding more Pelagos references this coming spring at Watches And Wonders 2022.