Deep dive: Tudor Pelagos FXD

Tudor pays tribute to its rich history with the French Navy with a rugged new watch designed for its combat swimmers

Watches & Jewellery 11 Nov 2021

Tudor’s rugged diving watches come with a serious pedigree, thanks in part to a partnership with the French Navy that dates back to the 1950s. It was called upon by ​​the Groupe d’Étude et de Recherches Sous-Marines, a scientific body associated with the French Navy, to produce Oyster Prince Submariner watches that would undergo rigorous testing in real-life situations. After proving their underwater credentials, Tudor gained the status of official supplier to the French Navy in 1961, a relationship that would continue for decades. 

The watchmaker’s latest timepiece, the Pelagos FXD, takes its cues from one of its most famous models, the reference 9401, launched in the mid-1970s and used by the organisation’s divers until the 1980s. Its distinctive design is echoed in the deep-blue dial and signature ‘snowflake’-shaped hands seen on some early models, along with the inscription ‘M.N.21’ (Marine Nationale 2021) in a nod to its origins. 

But far from just paying tribute to the high-performance timepieces of its past, this new model is designed for tough professional use, developed in conjunction with the French Navy’s combat swimmers, the Commando Hubert. This comes through in its technical features, including the bi-directional bezel and markers filled with grade X1 Super-Luminova for optimal legibility in all conditions. More notable is the new fixed bar straps (hence the name ‘FXD’), machined into the body of the 42mm titanium case for increased robustness. Also speaking to its specialist nature is the 120-notch bezel. This allows for the precise timing of the underwater navigation technique used by combat divers to reach a precise location by sea without surfacing. 

Even the strap stays true to this heritage while adapting to modern needs. Historically, the French Navy had Tudor watches delivered without bracelets, who then fitted them with their own straps. Typically these were made from braided nylon or handmade from parachute elastic. The latter provided the inspiration behind Tudor’s trademark single-piece fabric strap, which is produced by the historic weavers Julien Faure. For the Pelagos FXD they developed a new technical construction that would withstand the French Navy divers’ work, equipped with a self-gripping fastening system allowing for easy adjustment to different wrist sizes or over a diving suit.