Tudor’s New Military Dive Watch Is Totally Unexpected

The Pelagos FXD Marine Nationale was designed for the French Navy's combat swimmers.

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Tudor's massively popular Black Bay is one of the best values in all of luxury watches. But don't forget about Tudor's other diver: the Pelagos. As part of a partnership with the French Navy, it's finally getting some love and attention with a thorough makeover. Though still in titanium with recognizable looks, the redesign and differences in its features are, in fact, significant. It's handsome, yes, but sure to polarize.

What's not to love about a good-looking, titanium dive watch from Rolex's sister brand with an in-house automatic movement for under $4,000? For many, the new redesign might be even more attractive than the previous models, but the existing Pelagos has its fans, too. The most obvious difference is that the bezel design has been tweaked: Now sporting a countdown feature with hashmarks at every minute, it's designed for underwater navigation rather than for tracking elapsed time, with a new typeface (all lumed, along with the dial). Fans will also note that the all-brushed case is entirely new — still 42mm wide, but with a complete redesign. (A clue: it's thinner. Read on.)

The differences don't end there, though. The Pelagos always had a relatively niche appeal with its titanium case and other features that made it seem like a more hardcore alternative to the Black Bay — something like what the Sea Dweller is to the Rolex Submariner. Those more serious diving specs included 500m of water resistance and a helium escape valve (HEV) for saturation diving, but now the HEV is gone and water resistance is reduced to 200m. That'll still be sufficient for just most people, but you'd kind of expect the brand to go in the other direction for a military collaboration, right? Except that most military diving is conducted in relatively shallow water — not at a hundred-plus meters beneath the surface of the waves.

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Unlike most dive watches, the FDX sports a fully hashed countdown bezel for underwater navigation.
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Tudor's relationship with the French Navy, or Marine Nationale (which is also working with French watchmaker Yema), goes back to the 1950s but was renewed this year — so a watch for the collaboration was expected. This kind of redesign, however, was rather unexpected, but it's the result of specifications "developed in conjunction with the French Navy's combat swimmers." Another feature that's unique and surprising is that the strap bars are fixed (hence, "FXD" in the product name): This means there are no spring bars that can be removed and that the watch can only be attached to straps like NATOs — just like military dive watches of decades past.

Tudor is known to do quirky things from time to time, so it remains to be seen whether this new Pelagos FXD Marine National marks a whole new direction for the collection or if it's just a one-off. We do know that this isn't a limited edition, and that it comes with two straps (one fabric and one rubber) for $3,900. However, Tudor intends to mark the case backs with the production year — similar to how Tudor navy watches of yore were marked — so it's anybody's guess how many '21 production models will be spit out before the New Year.

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