Earlier this year, Tudor and the French national navy, the Marine Nationale, announced its official partnership with a promise of a new watch at some point in the future. Earlier this month Tudor unveiled the Pelagos FXD, a watch that was developed in collaboration with the Marine Nationale (MN) and that is now being used by the Commando Hubert combat swimmers.
The Pelagos FXD
As part of the initial press release in May, Tudor gave some new interesting information about the early days of the partnership. The first batch of watches was delivered in 1956 when the Toulon-based Underwater Study and Research Group (G.E.R.S.) received both reference 7922 and 7923 Submariner watches for evaluation. The roughout the 1950s, Tudor continued supplying watches including the the reference 7924, known as the “Big Crown”. The Big Crown Submariner from 1958 was the inspiration for the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, a watch that has been a huge success with collectors of both vintage and modern watches.
A Black bay Fifty-Eight with a 1958 Big Crown 7924 Submariner
In the late 1960s Tudor unveiled a totally new dial and hand layout that became one of the enduring symbols of Tudor dive watches. The often-murky waters in which the navy divers worked made it difficult to make out the positions of the hands. In a bid to make the watch more legible, Tudor devised what we now know as the Snowflake watches. In 1974, the reference 7016 was the first MN-issued Tudor watches to bear the famous “M.N.” engravings, composed of the initials M.N. and the year of issue.
An original Tudor MN-Issued Snowflake Submariner
The blue Snowflake is in many people’s eyes the classic Tudor military watch and so it came as no surprise that the Pelagos FXD pays its respects to this watch in many ways. The Pelagos FXD has been designed with the MN to their exact specifications for use in the field. It’s important to remember that the Pelagos FXD is not a PR stunt but is a watch that is being used professionally by finest combat swimmers in the French navy. The 42mm brushed titanium case has fixed strap bars cut from a solid block to ensure that there is little to no chance of the watch being lost whilst on a mission. The case is slimmer than the Pelagos, due to the lack of gas escape valve, and the watch is waterproof to 200m, not 500m like the regular Pelagos and LHD. The blue dial and hands are fully legible thanks to the Super Luminova filled snowflake hands and the signature square hour markers.
Cool Blue of the Pelagos FXD
The bezel has been devised to be used by Commando Hubert divers for underwater navigation. For this purpose, the bezel has a retrograde reading on it, as it is a countdown bezel, not for measuring elapsed time. The underwater navigation takes place at a shallow depth (hence the 200m waterproofness of the FXD) with divers working in pairs, connected by a ‘lifeline’. One diver sets the course on a compass and the other diver times the swim exactly using his watch. The course is predetermined before the mission with a set number of swims in precise directions. The Important part is timing each leg of journey, which is why the bi-directional countdown is key to the watch’s function for this application.
A countdown bezel on the Pelagos FXD
As one would expect now from Tudor, the Pelagos FXD houses a manufacture movement, calibre MT5602, and has a sapphire crystal and screw down winding crown. And there is a treat in store for fans and collectors of vintage MN Tudors. The watches feature an MN caseback engraving, in the style of the 1970s and 80s issued Tudor watches that had a caseback engraving of MN followed by the year – 74 for 1974 and 76 for 1976. Pelagos produced in 2021 will be engraved MN21, next year MN22 and so on. We believe these watches are sure to incredibly popular and a sure fire hit with Tudor fans and enthusiasts of all dive watches.
An original MN-issued 1974 Tudor with engraved case back
The new MN21 engraving on the Pelagos FXD