The Complete Guide To The Tudor Pelagos FXD

The Complete Guide To The Tudor Pelagos FXD

When Tudor released the Pelagos FXD in late 2021 an important element of the brand's heritage was brought to light with it. A rich history of working with the French Navy, or Marine Nationale, was now being tied to a modern creation from Tudor in a new partnership. While the history brings an unusual depth to this watch (no pun intended), it’s the manner in which the FXD has been executed that has made it truly interesting to a modern audience. This wasn’t a throwback design commemorating the past. Rather, this was a function-forward, modern design, built to spec for a niche group of divers in the French Navy. The FXD is a natural evolution of the Pelagos ethos, and its slightly unconventional approach has cemented its place in the hearts of many enthusiasts. 

Tudor took a slightly different route with the FXD when compared to the existing Pelagos references. The watch was designed with input from the Marine Nationale’s Commando Hubert unit in order to better suit its combat divers' needs for a specific maneuver they employed while traversing underwater. This maneuver would have them swimming segments in a set direction for a set period of time, before adjusting time and direction to tackle subsequent sections. To better assist in this exercise, the fully indexed bezel is bidirectional, and counts down rather than tracks elapsed time. This allows for fast, precise movement (this is a 120-click bezel), and no ambiguity when measuring a pre-set length of time. 

Where the standard Pelagos references were (and are) very straightforward, easily understood divers, the FXD felt quirky the more you looked at it. Not only was the bezel a bit odd in its orientation, but the dial had received a redesign, ditching the date in the process; the new titanium case shaved off a bit of the thickness and, perhaps most quirky of all, boasted an integrated fixed lug design for which the watch would be named. On top of all that, the depth rating was cut back to a mere 200 meters. 

Tudor uses its manufacture movements within the FXD collection, with the MT5602 appearing in the time-only references, and the MT5813 in the chronograph references. Each is COSC-certified and enjoys 70 hours of power reserve. 

The dial redesign removed the hour markers from the rehaut, as they are situated in other Pelagos watches, and reduced the overall depth, bringing everything right up under the crystal. That’s the effect, at least. In practice, this feels like an HD dial, and the legibility is exceptional thanks to the high contrast achieved between the large hour markers, hands, and the base dial. This also means that legibility is retained at extreme angles. It’s a welcome execution that works just as well on land as it does at depth. 

The net result is a slightly strange watch that has earned a dedicated following of collectors. I chalk it up to the unique personality of the watch, which at once feels approachable and mysterious enough to keep it interesting. In the years since, we still haven’t really seen any new fixed-lug-design dive watches enter the market outside of the rather extreme Omega Planet Ocean Ultra Deep 6000M. Throw in a few special editions and a dated caseback, and you’ve got all the ingredients for collector catnip. 

The FXD collection has grown in some rather interesting (and unexpected) ways in the intervening years, and in this collector’s guide, we’ll break it all down for you. 

Tudor Pelagos FXD MN

This is the watch that started it all. First released in November of 2021, each year it has been updated with a new caseback to reflect the year in which it was made. This means that there are fewer than 2 months worth of ‘MN21’ casebacks in the wild, making this the most collectible of all FXD watches. Further exacerbating this was something of a supply shortage in the first year of the FXD production. While no one outside of Tudor knows exactly how many of these watches were produced, it does tend to trade (at the moment) at a 20-30% premium over the subsequent years. 

One thing to keep in mind with the MN FXD watches is that the hook and loop straps of the early years are not quite as robust as you might like. It’s a softer material and does fade in its adhesion level. This has been sorted in later production examples. These watches also shipped with a blue rubber passthrough strap. The lug opening is 22mm, and these watches take exceptionally well to all manner of third party straps, so keep that in mind before judging the fabric OEM strap too harshly. 

The titanium case at use here does scratch and mark relatively easily, and believe me when I tell you that many of these are put to proper use. The bigger issue when considering the case is its measurements. This is listed as a 42mm watch, and it wears every bit of that diameter. The thickness has been trimmed to 12.8mm, which is indeed noticeable in the wearability of the watch overall. Finally, the lug-to-lug is listed at a whopping 52mm; however, that number is a bit misleading as it’s taken from the bowed-out center of the fixed lug, which is obviously not where we’re used to judging that measurement. In reality, it wears closer to 49mm from lug to lug, as that’s the measurement taken from where the strap terminates. 

Make no mistake, this isn’t a small watch, and it’s not trying to be. But it is impressively wearable, and not nearly as intimidating as the numbers might suggest. This is generally the biggest hangup on this watch, and if you’re on the fence about it, I’d recommend giving it a shot; you might be surprised.

Tudor Pelagos FXD Alinghi Red Bull Racing Editions

In the summer of 2023, Tudor made a surprise announcement, welcoming two new additions to the FXD family derived from its partnership with the Red Bull Alinghi Racing Team. These watches went beyond a mere branding exercise, however. Alongside a new, time-only FXD we got the first complicated FXD in a chronograph variation. The dial borrows from the existing Black Bay Chronograph collection, but it’s rendered in FXD style, and housed in the same fixed lug case.

The real surprise here is that both of these cases have been rendered in a carbon composite, a first not just for the collection, but for Tudor as a brand. The use of carbon here is fitting, as these watches were made for the Red Bull Alinghi Yacht Racing team, where weight savings is kind of a big deal. The black cases and bezels pair beautifully with a matte blue dial and red accents, and the color scheme proved hugely popular with enthusiasts. There is really only one sticking point with both of these watches, and that is the placement of the ‘Alinghi Red Bull Racing’ at 12 o’clock in the rehaut, replacing the hashes of the minute index in the process. 

As well as the colorway works here, the presence of the branding in such an overt way will not be for everyone. That said, in person, the label itself tucks itself in rather neatly, and doesn’t call attention to itself in dramatic fashion. The ultra-lightweight carbon cases and sharp mix of colors are the real story with these watches, as is the addition of a chronograph complication to the Pelagos family. 

The FXD Chronograph measures 43mm in diameter, and 13.6mm in thickness (about 1mm thinner than a Black Bay Chronograph), but the lightweight carbon case mitigates any heft concerns you might have with this one. 

Perhaps these watches raise more questions than they answer, however. As in, will we ever see regular-production, non-branded-variation FXD Chronograph? Further, how will Tudor use carbon composite elsewhere, perhaps outside the Pelagos range? They have already introduced the ‘Pro’ nomenclature that I’d love to see make its way into the Pelagos collection, which would make for an ideal candidate for more carbon composite. Here’s hoping.

Tudor Pelagos FXD Black (U.S. Navy)

Moving ahead to September of 2023, Tudor released a new colorway of the standard FXD, and in the process created a ‘standard’ variation of the watch with no connection to the MN. The new black-on-black FXD was a nod to the brand’s historic references (such as the 7928) worn by the U.S. Navy’s UDT divers in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. The monochromatic colorway was a welcome sight within the collection, as was the return to a more traditional elapsed-time, unidirectional bezel. Where the MN embraced a funky personality, the black FXD dials things back a bit, and as a result feels like the more approachable of the two.

The titanium case remained unchanged, though a new hook-and-loop strap in an earthy brown-and-red colorway (picking up the red on the dial) was introduced with the watch. Best of all, the hook-and-loop material is far more robust on this reference, with a far more confidence-inspiring level of adhesion. Once again, this more natural colorway works well with any 22mm straps you might have laying around, which can do wonders to push the personality of the watch into different directions. 

The black FXD also uses a clean caseback free of any markings or signifiers, which makes it feel like a default tool watch ready to take on new meaning. It also feels like the best place to start with the FXD collection as a whole, and a more direct member of the broader Pelagos dive watch family. I’d still hesitate to call this a great ‘go anywhere, do anything’ diver given its rather focused design and dimensions, but anything south of that formal line and you’re looking at the best top-to-bottom tool watch that Tudor makes today. 

Tudor Pelagos FXD "Cycling" Edition

In may of 2024, Tudor revealed another FXD Chronograph reference in the "Cycling Edition" in recognition of Tudor’s own Pro Cycling Team taking part in the Giro d'Italia race through Italy. When viewed in the context of the FXD collection as a whole, this one is a bit of an outlier in that it’s not positioned as a diver, but rather as more of a technical tool for cycling. In truth, all FXD watches share this same DNA of function-forward technical design, so in that regard this watch doesn’t feel too far adrift, but it’s certainly an interesting case study in how the collection could evolve. 

Tudor’s approach here was to create a viable tool for an intended purpose, and not just a vanity project with a logo splashed across the dial. This chronograph gets a unique tachymeter scaled to the speeds achieved on a bicycle, allowing a rider to calculate their average speed over a given distance (theoretically, at least). The watch also cuts its depth rating to just 100 meters in service of a thinner case, which is now down to 13.2mm (a welcome trade off for many). Once again, Tudor is using a carbon composite for the case, making for an all around lightweight option that would make sense for its target user. 

In reality, the pro cyclists aren’t wearing watches while competing, making this watch more of an expression of an idea rather than a spec build ready for use like the MN was. But even there, what’s being asked of these watches is nowhere near the same as it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s. That doesn’t mean these watches can’t be used for their intended purpose, and I know many FXD owners who relish the opportunity to dive in their watches or put them to serious use in other ways. These truly feel like contemporary tools made with no regard to vanity or hype, which, oddly, feels like a rare thing these days. And therein lies the true appeal of the FXD.

Where does the FXD go from here? Tudor has shown a willingness to bring new complications and materials to the table, as well venturing away from the water in theme. There is a single thread that connects each FXD reference, and that is their commitment to the fixed-lug formula, and their laser focus on an intended task. As such, I’d expect any future additions to the collection to adhere to this raison d'être, and to my mind, the less obvious the intended path, the better.

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