Years of SCUBA diving with mechanical watches on my wrist have revealed certain strengths and weaknesses in functional design that would otherwise remain hidden on terra firma. I’ve also learned that my aesthetic assessment of a dive watch often changes once I’ve had the chance to dive with it. The significance – and, in turn, the satisfaction – of specific design details can shift considerably at depth. After spending a few weeks with the Tudor Pelagos FXD, including a week SCUBA diving with it off the rustic Dutch island of Bonaire in the West Caribbean, my attitude shifted from a watch nerd’s middling curiosity to a diver’s full-blown fandom. My perspective transitioned in stages as I came to better appreciate the FXD’s aesthetic, experience its functional design, and, finally, maximize its unique capabilities as an underwater navigational tool.
Jack Forster summed up my initial reaction to the Tudor Pelagos FXD in his Second Look. Like Jack, I found the concept of the watch vaguely interesting until I strapped it on and found myself entirely enthralled. This was long before I got anywhere near water with it.
What I didn’t know about the FXD prior to handling it was how different it actually was from other dive watches, including the standard Pelagos. I didn’t expect the various design tweaks of the FXD to form such a novel and cohesive aesthetic.
At 330 comments and counting on James’ Hands-On from last November, plus its own episode of HODINKEE Radio a week later, you would think that there wouldn’t be much left to add to the conversation about the Tudor Pelagos FXD. When I first read James’ coverage, I thought to myself that the idea seemed interesting but I didn’t have all that much interest in actually seeing the watch, much less taking it for a test drive. It made the same first impression on me that the 2019 Tudor Black Bay P01 did – very interesting in the abstract and with a certain quirky appeal, but perhaps a little too high-concept, too granular in its design details, for its own good, at least for a wider audience.
A watch with not just fixed strap bars (the “FXD” means “fixed”) but actual strap slots cut into the case seemed a strange way to go, and then of course, there’s the presence of a bidirectional countdown bezel on what’s nominally a dive watch. The watch, I read, was designed in collaboration with the elite French combat diver’s team, Commando Hubert (the unit is named after Lieutenant Augustin Hubert, who was killed in action on D-Day off Sword Beach) and presumably those folks know their business, but the accumulation of somewhat outré details seemed a little deliberately willful. This is the Tudor Pelagos FXD, take it or leave it, was the vibe I got. Where, I wondered, was the simple and easy next take on the Pelagos, which would have been – well, a thinner, possibly smaller diameter Pelagos but with METAS certification?