The new Pelagos FXD pays tribute to decades of TUDOR watches on the wrists of US Navy divers. Complete with fixed strap bars, a titanium case, a high-performance Manufacture Calibre and a unidirectional elapsed-time rotating bezel, it comes as the ultimate modern “Milsub”.
As early as the mid ‘50s, TUDOR diving watches were being tested and evaluated by a number of outfits inside the US Navy, and by 1958 they were officially adopted by the Navy and purchased for the purpose of issuing them to divers operating in various units. This Pelagos FXD model is the spiritual successor of those watches. The nomenclature hints at the background of the watch, with FXD referring to the incredibly robust FiXeD strap bars of the case. The model represents a modern, high-performance and robust take on the famed “Milsub” (short for Military Submariner) of yesteryear. Visually, it’s most in line with a late ‘60s-era TUDOR Oyster Prince Submariner reference 7016; it incorporates elements from the US military specifications for diving watches, such as fixed spring bars, as well as details inspired by other generations of issued TUDORs, like pointed crown-guards typically found on early TUDOR Submariners.
TUDOR AND THE US NAVY
The US Navy issued TUDOR diving watches for decades starting in the latter years of the ‘50s. The watches were famously used by SEAL teams from their commissioning in 1962 all the way the late ‘80s. These robust instruments have also served sailors in all types of underwater roles, including UDTs, Seabees and Navy dive school instructors. The issued TUDOR Submariners have played a role in teaching the basics of scuba diving at the Underwater Swimmers School, all the way to aiding in underwater submarine maintenance at submarine bases in the US and abroad. Issued TUDOR watches also played a role in pioneering innovative underwater technologies under the surface of oceans across the globe.
Throughout the decades, TUDOR has supported the US Navy as a supplier of issued watches. In the 1965 “First Edition” of the Underwater Demolition Team Handbook, a TUDOR Oyster Prince Submariner ref. 7928 is pictured next to the “Diving Watch” paragraph. The handbook was an essential piece of literature for new operators as they studied UDT operational procedures. Later, in 1973, the US Navy Diving manual lists the TUDOR Oyster Prince Submariner references 7016 and 7021 as “Navy-approved” diving watches. In 1974, the National Stock Number system was introduced to track the supply system of the US Department of Defense. From 1978, under code 6645-01-068-1088, a supply officer could purchase and issue a TUDOR Oyster Prince Submariner reference 9411, or later 76100, to an approved sailor or operator in need of a reliable Navy-approved dive watch. This specific supply catalog entry was only retired in 2004.
Watches issued to members of the military are typically engraved with specific inventory codes, but the US Navy-issued TUDOR watches didn’t follow this pattern. There was never a force-wide, consolidated marking system. Instead, the issued watches were either sterile, or marked at the unit level, with many different coding typologies, most of which were used for inventory purposes. Since many of these watches issued by the US Navy remain unmarked, it makes it quite difficult for watch scholars of today to determine the military provenance of a given TUDOR, even though official records indicate that very large quantities, in a number of references, were delivered over a span of multiple decades.
A UNIQUE SET OF SPECIFICATIONS
Initially developed in conjunction with active duty combat swimmers, the Pelagos FXD case is based on a set of specifications that are as precise as they are demanding. For this reason, it includes some functional features that are unique in the TUDOR collection, such as its fixed strap bars, which are directly machined into the main body of the 42mm titanium case for increased robustness and reliability. Shaped as an extension of the lugs, they are key to the model's characteristic silhouette. Another feature of this model is the ergonomic 60-notch rotating bezel. Unidirectional with a luminescent material-filled 60-minute-graduated ceramic insert, it corresponds to ISO standard 6425:2018 for divers' watches.
In aesthetic terms, this Pelagos FXD model is inspired by the TUDOR divers’ watches historically used by US Navy personnel in the late 60’s through early 80’s. It is black in colour and has the characteristic square hour markers and angular hands, known as “Snowflake”, introduced by the brand in 1969 to increase the intensity of the luminescence of its watches in poor light conditions. It also features a unidirectional rotating bezel with a sand-blasted ceramic insert with luminescent material. Its 42mm titanium case is waterproof to 200 meters and is entirely satin-brushed to produce a matt effect to limit light reflections.
A FABRIC STRAP IN PURE NAVY STYLE
Historically, the US Navy oftentimes had their divers fit their TUDOR watches with fabric straps, typically one-piece ones in black or green made out of nylon. The two straps of the Pelagos FXD nod to this military custom of wearing watches on straps rather than bracelets, with a twist. A one-piece green fabric strap with red central thread and self-gripping fastening system comes as the flagship configuration, while an additional black embossed fabric-motif one-piece rubber strap brings a fresh subtle take to a classic look.
The one-piece fabric strap is one of the hallmarks of TUDOR, which in 2010 became one of the first watchmaking brands to offer it with its watches. Woven in France on 19th century Jacquard looms by the Julien Faure company in the St-Etienne region, its manufacturing quality, robustness and comfort on the wrist are unique. For the Pelagos FXD model, a highly technical strap construction was developed by TUDOR and Julien Faure. Made up of a 22mm forest green nylon woven ribbon with a red central thread, a titanium “D” buckle and a self-gripping fastening system, it adapts to different wrist sizes and is very comfortable to wear.
THE MANUFACTURE CALIBRE MT5602
The Manufacture Calibre MT5602 that drives the Pelagos FXD model displays the hours, minutes and seconds functions. It has the finish typical of TUDOR Manufacture Calibres: its rotor in tungsten monobloc is openwork and satin-brushed with sand-blasted details, while its bridges and mainplate have alternate sand-blasted, polished surfaces and laser decorations.
Its build has been designed to ensure robustness, longevity, reliability and precision, as has its variable inertia balance, which is maintained by a sturdy traversing bridge with a two-point fixation. Together with its non-magnetic silicon hairspring, the Manufacture Calibre MT5602 is certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), with its performance going beyond the standards set by this independent institute. In fact, where COSC allows an average variation in the daily running of a watch of between -4 and +6 seconds in relation to absolute time in a single movement, TUDOR insists on between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its running when it is completely assembled.
Another notable feature is that the power reserve of the Manufacture Calibre MT5602 is “weekend-proof”; that is to say about 70 hours, which enables the wearer to take the watch off on a Friday evening and put it back on again on Monday morning without having to wind it.
THE TUDOR DIVERS’ WATCH
The history of the TUDOR divers’ watch dates back to 1954 with the launch of reference 7922. Waterproof to 100 meters (330 ft), it is the firstborn in a long line of “divers”. Affordable, robust, reliable and precise, it is representative of the tool-watch philosophy of the brand. The seven decades following its introduction have witnessed the constant improvement of this TUDOR divers' watch and those that have gained unanimous acclaim from professionals in the field, including some of the greatest military navies in the world. With the introduction in 2021 of the first generation of Pelagos FXD, TUDOR continues to write its underwater story alongside some of the most elite navy units in the world.