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Tudor teams up with French navy divers for its latest Pelagos model

By Tracey Llewellyn | 4 minute read

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The latest addition to TUDOR’s contemporary dive watch line-up sees a rekindling of a military partnership first established in the 1950s.

When Hans Wilsdorf launched the TUDOR Submariner in the mid-1950s, its robust construction – with water-tight Oyster case perfected by sister brand Rolex – and affordable price-tag made it an immediate hit with both civilian and military divers. Among the global navies that adopted the model for their elite frogmen was France’s Marine Nationale (MN), which issued its combat divers with TUDOR watches from 1956 up until the 1980s.

It was not until half a century later, however, that the brand really capitalised on its maritime credentials when, in 2012, a re-energised TUDOR introduced the retro-inspired Heritage Black Bay. In almost every iteration, the Black Bay qualifies as a true dive watch, while adding enough design refinement to make it perfect for everyday wear. Public reaction to the watch was so strong that another diver almost slipped below the radar that year. For the true TUDOR aficionados though, the no-nonsense, contemporary and professional aesthetic of the Pelagos made it the undisputed star of the show.

A tool watch in the truest sense, the 42mm Pelagos, waterproof to 500m, was the first watch from the Wilsdorf stable to be made in ultra-light, corrosion-resistant titanium. Features included a black ceramic bezel, an automatic helium release valve on the left of the satin-finished case and a matte-black dial with applied hour markers, a triangle at 12 o'clock, a date window at three and – in a nod to the past – luminous diamond-shaped ‘Snowflake’ hands and the declaration ‘Rotor Self-Winding’. Presented on a titanium bracelet with steel clasp, the watch was also supplied with two rubber straps.

Three years later in 2015, TUDOR added the Pelagos Blue with a dial and bezel that paid homage to the colour of the Submariners worn by the MN. The watch saw the ETA movement used in the original Pelagos replaced with a new MT5612, COSC-certified, in-house calibre with rapid-setting date and stop-seconds function for precision synchronisation. The dial text increased to five lines to incorporate the words ‘Chronometer Officially Certified’ and, for the first time, the name of the watch ‘Pelagos’.

Until the late-1970s, left-handed MN divers were issued with right-handed watches, often wearing them upside down in order to comfortably see elapsed dive times. At this point, the frogmen made a request to TUDOR for a Submariner designed to wear on the right wrist with the setting crown on the left of the case. Not only did the brand oblige, but in late 2016, it introduced this quirk into its civilian line-up with the Pelagos LHD (Left Hand Drive). Aesthetic additions included the dial legend ‘Pelagos’ highlighted in red and a new ‘roulette’ date indication with even days displayed in red and odd in black.

Now, almost a decade after the debut of the Pelagos, TUDOR has introduced a fourth model to the collection: the Pelagos FXD, waterproof to 200m and with adaptations requested from the men who originally inspired the piece, the French navy’s Commando Hubert unit of combat swimmers. Feedback from the Marine Nationale’s elite has meant that details including the date window and helium valve have been removed, while the five lines of dial text have been reduced to four.

The monobloc titanium case now has fixed strap bars (hence the ‘FXD’ moniker) and the titanium bracelet has been substituted for a pair of one-piece straps in embossed rubber with a pin buckle and woven fabric with a Velcro fastening. A further request was for a bidirectional countdown bezel rather than one that shows elapsed time – a modification that disqualifies the watch from the ISO diving watch standard but does adhere to the specific ‘underwater navigation’ needs of Commando Hubert swimmers.

To mark the long-standing professional relationship between TUDOR and the Marine Nationale, the casebacks of the new watch bear the logo of the MN as well as the year of issue (hence the designation M.N.21 for the first batch off the production line). Each is hand-stamped – a fact borne out by the random positioning, which is immediately noticeable when any two pieces are compared.

Within the case – which at 12.75mm high is about 1.5mm slimmer than the previous version – is a 70-hour power reserve, COSC-certified Calibre MT5602 with tungsten rotor, variable inertia balance and non-magnetic silicon balance spring. The watch is covered by TUDOR’s transferable five-year guarantee that does not require the watch to be registered or serviced within that period.

Discover more from TUDOR here at Goldsmiths.

Author Credit: Tracey Llewellyn has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has specialised in watches for at least half of that time. She is currently watch editor at the Telegraph.

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