Hands-On: The Tudor Pelagos FXD Ref. 25707B
The evolution of the brand’s do-it-all diver for modern duty with the Marine Nationale.
After months of speculation and more than a handful of leaks, Tudor has officially announced the Pelagos FXD – the watch born of their revived connection with the Marine Nationale. Something of a more specific and specialized take on the Pelagos format, the FXD has been designed with direct input from the Marine Nationale’s combat swimmers, the Commando Hubert, in the hopes of fine-tuning Tudor’s popular titanium dive watch to suit their needs for underwater navigation. The result is an exacting evolution of the Pelagos that includes several small tweaks and a few big changes. I’m sorry to do this… but let’s dive in.
First, I’d like to make something clear. For my money, especially if you want to take it diving, the Pelagos is the best dive watch in the world. It’s modern, over-built, over spec’d, and very thoughtfully designed and the final product has a casual wrist presence that belies its professional level of capability. It’s amazing how well it manages to operate like a piece of dive gear when you’re underwater only to then become nothing more than a very nice watch when you’re above water. A huge part of that wide-ranging ability is the generalist “checks all boxes” nature of its design.
But, because we’re all pals here, I’m going to give you a shortcut to help inform your take on the FXD. It’s no generalist – heck, it doesn’t even conform to the warm-waters of ISO 6425. Those with a base understanding of evolutionary theory (yes, I too have read Jurassic Park) know that evolution is not a purely additive process, as most evolution has a cost. Think of it this way, when was the last time you saw gills and legs at the same party?
The FXD, in following the needs of the MN, has traded some of the standard Pelagos’ wide range of charms for a more specific and focused set of skills. Your personal taste and (I hope) actual use case will determine which is likely a better fit for you, but let’s look at a breakdown of the new Pelagos FXD.
The case is still made of titanium and still measures 42mm wide, but the thickness is down from 14.3mm in the current standard spec to 12.75mm in the FXD. We also see the omission of the HeV (a helium escape valve, not needed for the Marine Nationale) and a reduction of the water-resistance from 500m to 200m, again to suit real-world diving conditions for the MN. Also, I’d like to offer a big kudos to Tudor for being what I think might be the first major brand to include lug to lug in the specs for a new watch, with the FXD measuring 52mm in length (some 2mm more than a standard Pelagos).
Next, and quite obvious in comparison is a full graduated bezel with a countdown scale and more toothy grip, which has been implemented with bi-directional rotation to aid in underwater navigation, specifically, and to help when fingers and hands are cold and accuracy can be difficult (especially if you miss your mark by a minute and have to spin all the way around again). Unidirectional bezels have been a calling card for much of the existence of the dive watch, but, if you’re not worried about bumping the bezel or indeed not using the bezel to measure bottom time (as is the case for the MN), this format is much more forgiving for frequent underwater use when timing navigation.
As I am merely a dilettante recreational diver and haven’t done much in the way of timed underwater navigation beyond the fin-kick square required for Advanced Open Water certification, rather than regurgitating more of the press release, I’ll just let Tudor describe how the Pelagos FXD aids the Commando Hubert in moving as a team underwater.
“Underwater navigation consists of reaching a precise location by sea, without surfacing, by following a meticulously planned route. Divers carry out this underwater navigation in pairs, connected to one another by a strap known as a lifeline, and complete a series of straight swims guided by a magnetic compass.
They swim at a constant speed for a set time in each section, completing as many sections as necessary whilst timing each one exactly. This navigation entails restarting a countdown at each change of course. The anticlockwise graduation and luminescence of the bezel of this model make it easy to set up and monitor each countdown, by aligning the time set for the section to be covered on the bezel with the minute hand.
When the minute hand arrives opposite the triangle, the team changes course and the diver in charge of timing begins the next countdown. The model has also been fitted with a large bezel ring, which exceeds the diameter of the case for optimum grip, even with neoprene gloves and hands that are numb from long dives in cold water.”
The bezel is now wider for ease of use and has 120-click action. The fully lumed ceramic insert remains while both the bezel and the dial are now a slightly darker (navy) blue than the somewhat more saturated color used on the standard Pelagos Blue. And, while at first quite visually similar, there are many changes to the dial, including less text (no more “ROTOR SELF-WINDING”), a new rehaut that no longer wraps around the markers, and the most obvious change, no date.
The no-date execution points to Tudor using a different movement, and here we see the FXD using a COSC-certified MT5602. The 5602 is an automatically-wound 4Hz movement with 70 hours of power reserve that was announced in 2016 and can also be found in no-date Black Bay models like the 41mm Black Bay Dark.
With no option of the standard Pelagos’ wonderful bracelet or rubber strap, the Commando Hubert-spec option is one of two included single-piece straps, one rubber, and one fabric with hook-and-loop fastening. The fabric strap is meant to recall the hand-made elastic straps that the MN was known to have fitted to past Tudor MN models.
For this modern iteration, the new FXD fabric strap is still made by the wonderfully old-school Julien Faure (you can see more here) and measures 22mm wide, and is cinched via a signed titanium D-ring. The included single-piece blue rubber strap is brand new and uses a tang buckle for sizing and closure.
If you slide the strap away, the case back is signed with the Marine Nationale Logo and “M.N. 21”, as a nod to the MN watches of Tudor’s past.
So we’re through the specs and you’re likely wondering – how does it wear? Like a Pelagos but different. The long lug-to-lug has a visual effect that does not equate to how it feels on wrist as the shape of the lugs and the low-set integrated lug bars keep the strap very flat against your wrist with less of a “feeding” than you’d see when putting a nato on a watch with conventional lugs. The strap isn’t fighting the spring bars to stay on your wrist, so everything just sits flat and it’s very comfortable.
That having been said, while the Pelagos FXD may feel a bit larger than a conventional Pelagos, it manages to both feel and look much thinner, which is a big plus in my book and the total weight on the rubber is just 89g (yes, I took a kitchen scale to Rolex HQ). Of the two straps, I prefer the fabric option but you’d better believe I brought a UTE grey NATO to my meeting with Tudor – did you expect anything less? Both of the stock mounts are great, but the fabric was immediately the most comfortable, and I rather like the blue/silver coloring.
In terms of context, where the Fifty-Eight gave the Black Bay line an even wider appeal, the FXD is definitely a more niche expression of Tudor’s do-it-all diver. It’s not as niche as, say, the P01, but it’s also decidedly not the Pelagos Fifty-Eight (or GMT) that some have been wishing for.
Given the somewhat lesser specs (not that it would matter to any recreational user) and the lack of the bracelet, the Pelagos FXD is priced under the standard Pelagos at $3,900 (vs $4,575 for either of the three standard Pelagos iterations). As a watch made in conjunction with input from a modern combat diving outfit like the Commando Hubert, I get it and I think they’ve managed to make a dive watch with legitimate commercial viability despite the very specialized design brief.
As someone who’s long been teetering on the edge of buying a Pelagos, I genuinely think that the FXD is a deeply cool evolution of the form, but not one that helps me get any closer to deciding which one I’d want on my wrist as I figure its main competition will come from it’s three closest siblings.
I love the standard model’s bracelet, but don’t adore its thickness. I love the FXD’s thinness and lack of an HeV, but in turn, I do wish it was a bit shorter lug to lug. As with any evolution, the new path may not have all of the elements you enjoyed in the past, but the FXD is nonetheless a compelling creation for dive watch fans, especially those with a military bent.
If you asked me three times in a single day which Pelagos I’d like to own, you’d likely get three different answers. But I’ll tell you this, one of them would certainly be the new Pelagos FXD.