Well, it feels like it since the last fortis review when i visited the reno air race now as fortis, are in the midst of a series of very compelling new releases, and i must stress for me it’s. The most important uh new release of 2020.
So far i thought i’d, revisit this absolute gem uh from their pre-existing catalogue. They obviously have an extensive range of pilot watches. So i really wanted to look at something a little overlooked and in my opinion this is perhaps one of the the best uh affordable swiss um flight style watches.
So i have to say a massive thank you to watchbuys for lending this in. As you guys know, they are an authorized dealer for fortis in the united states and i believe for north america they have a whole host of other uh wonderful brands.
I personally have bought from them. If you remember, i got my zin 104, so i can personally attest uh to their professionalism um. So there you go now i’ll. Do a quick wrist watch check i am of indeed wearing my own fortis.
This is a very rare lamania, 5100 based automatic version and extremely rare. Only 300 of these in the world is the pride of my collection to some degree. Before we get to know this lovely creature. Here let’s.
Have a little look at the history when it comes to discussing the history of a watch brand few compare to fortis for brand of this size to say punches above its weight would be an understatement. During my 2017 tour of switzerland, i actually visited the factory in gretchen where fortis were founded in 1912 by walter volt.
I got to see firsthand their extensive collection of historic watches that had actually been to space and some of the world’s. First automatic watches ever manufactured to say i fell in love with the brand and its rich heritage is undoubtedly a cliche, but there is no better expression to describe the magic effect of being in this historic place and seeing these watches first hand immediately upon my return Home after the trip i hunted down, my first fortis and i have been a die-hard fan ever since, but let’s rewind a bit.
Why is fortis so important and why are they one of if not the most underrated swiss watch brand in the world? 12 years after its establishment, volt set up production with the british horologist john harwood in 1926 fortis released.
The patented harwood automatic the first self-winding wristwatch in the world, aside from pioneering the earliest automatics fortis, then introduced some of the world’s. First, waterproof watches with the aptly named fortissimo models today.
Fortis are mostly known for their long legacy of making watches worn in space, starting as far back as 1962, with the spacematic automatic, it was constructed to hold up in extreme conditions and temperature changes.
The watch was tested by seven members of a u.s space mission in 1994, fortis introduced, strict endurance tests and the same year, the star city, training center chose the fortis official cosmonaut chronograph as part of its issued equipment.
Fortis automatic watches have proven their space compatibility inside and outside of the protection of the space station. Since 1994 fortis has been the exclusive supplier of manned space missions authorized by the russian federal space agency.
In 1997, the same watch, the fortis official cosmonaut chronograph, became the official watch of the german russian space commission mir97 the following year. Fortis would make history again by introducing the world’s first automatic chronograph with an alarm in 1998.
. This innovative timepiece would give a physical vibration as well as an audible signal designed specifically to be worn in space during an eva, so the astronaut could feel the alarm ringing because in space of course, there is no sound during fortis’s 75th anniversary Year in 2004, it introduced a new addition to their flight automatic collection.
These would go on to supply many military squadrons worldwide. The swiss eleven fighters of switzerland, the agrtage of germany, the hellenic tigers of greece, the immelmann 51 of germany, nato forces of hungary, the thunder tiger acrobatic team of taiwan and the papa squadron of hungary just to name a few.
Despite this, astonishing legacy fortis experienced financial difficulties in 2017 and was rescued by a private investor, who was, most importantly, a fortis fan. This new ownership helped to maintain the brand’s independence and in 2020 we saw a return to form with the first.
In a series of highly anticipated and extremely exciting new flight watches, lastly, let’s. Just talk a little bit about the meaning of fortis and it’s. An interesting story, aside from the obvious etymology from latin forte, meaning strong, which happens to be the same in italian fortis, comes from the maker’s mark often inscribed on the base of roman oil lamps.
They originated in northern italy and were exported throughout the mediterranean and, of course, the roman empire. Some of these lamps would be sized deliberately to burn a specific amount of oil over a certain amount of time.
Therefore, making it a rudimentary timing device. Those of you who are truly into herology and not just watches, will undoubtedly appreciate this. The book i featured in this video, which i acquired during my visit to them in switzerland, you can actually now download it for free as a pdf from their website.
As always, let’s start off with dimensions. We have a diameter of exactly 40 millimeters, an extremely slender 9.2 millimeters. There lag to lug. We’re, looking at uh just a smidgen over 47, i would say 47.
2 there and a lug width of 20 millimeters, absolutely outstanding size, very contemporary, but not too oversized. Now, of course, due to this remarkable slenderness, it is extremely comfortable. I do very much wears like a dress watch it’s supremely cuff friendly.
The whole entire case is stainless steel. We have sapphire flat sapphire with anti-reflective coating, i believe on the inside. It’s entirely high polished. There are no brushed surfaces here whatsoever and then on the back.
I’m, not quite sure if this is sapphire as well, but you do get a display back there to show off that lovely movement just zero, the scales there and pop it on. I’ve got a very comfortable. It’s, not quite on there.
We go uh, yeah, 66 grams, very nice and light super luminous on all the numerals, with the classic flieger, a type layout hearkening back to the early german world war ii pilot watchers, of course that have been imitated throughout the watch world so there before we get That lovely uh iconic triangle and doubled up marker at the 12 we get those quintessentially feliga style, sword hands.
Of course. Now these are blacked out as well and with this clear layout, obviously we get a really excellent orientation. I mean there’s, no mistaking uh, where 12 o’clock is, and at the six o’clock to make way for that uh large sub seconds.
We have a little triangle and then of course, the date aperture immediately. Above that, dial itself is a highly contrasted matte slightly grained black there, the only pop of color on the entire watch that lovely little.
I would describe that as a kind of vivid cobalt blue for the seconds hand. So, despite its more diminutive size, it really stands out, which i think is a nice touch and just notice how large that sub seconds is.
It goes from the center of the dial all the way, but without cutting into those seven and five numerals there. Water resistance on this, of course, it’s, not a screw down. Crown is 50 meters, which is about right for a watch of this genre and perfectly usable the crown is signed and it’s.
What i like to call a beanie hat style, a crown it’s very ergonomic, despite not being absolutely massive. You’d kind of expect to see an onion style with this type of watch, but i have to say it’s. Uh it’s very easy to grip and use.
Now inside we have the 40s caliber u33, which essentially is a modified eta. We have quick set date manual, wind hacking of course, 42 hour power reserve bi-directional winding and operates at 28 800 vibrations an hour now, while it is not cask, it is regulated and tested thoroughly at the fortis factory and at the end of the day um.
These are very affordable to maintain. I can personally attest to it. I’ve serviced, many of my etas quite affordably, and they are based on the ever dependable and rugged 2800 series of eta movements, which are the backbone of eta, and they’ve been going since the 1970s, so they have proven themselves Time and time again as extremely reliable now, the watch comes with what they call their performance strap and it’s.
A very tough tightly woven black kedora, fitting, of course, for a more sporty uh look, but also for its aviation theme, and i like how the white stitching matches the crisp white printing on the dial there.
The buckle as you can see is signed there. Actually, this is the only brushed uh part of the watch, which kind of makes sense because it’s, going to be on the underside, and i’m going to attract more scuffs and you notice it tapers ever so slightly to 18 Millimeters here now, the case back you’ll, see, is screwed in um, which i don’t know if this was intentional, but it does give a slightly more reminds me of the riveting on on airplanes, so kind of cool.
This watch is truly a great amalgamation of styles and genres here. So let me explain exactly what i mean now. The case itself is based on the very dressy fortis watches of the 30s and 40s and, to some extent, the early aviation pieces of the very first fleegas of the 60s, and i think the slender profile really exemplifies this connection, as well as the curvy lugs.
But if we look at the dial, this is of course, unquestionably 1940s feliga a style in layout, but the numerals are not. They’re, very kind of um. I guess you could say retro, modern or slightly a touch of futurism.
There um the kind of numerals you would expect to see on the us, css and the storm on. You know this kind of like slightly sci-fi retro and i think it really works and does also remind me of the very very early 1910 1920s pocket, watches and and the earliest wristwatches or aviation watches as well.
If you remember the zenith that very much started, making pilot watches in the infancy of the aviation, when planes were made out of wire and fabric louis blerio, who was the first man to fly across the english channel in 1909 on his wrist, he had a pilot Watch and it very much had the same layout and especially the sub second, so let’s talk a little bit about the small seconds there because it’s.
Certainly the most interesting aspect of this particular watch. Firstly, it’s oversized compared to most obviously for practical reasons. It’s very subtly sunken in and it’s, a complication. You typically see in more classic dress, watches and, in this context, very similar to the pre-flighter watches of um louis valerio’s day.
I like it, it’s, a clever nod to the genesis of the pilot, watches or pilot watches, as we know them, and also a time when traditional watches pretty much every pocket watch when they have seconds they were most often than not um sub Seconds and i think it works in conjunction with the dressy slender field, so it really is a flight dress, watch in actual fact [ Music ].
So let’s. Talk about the positives! Well, value, i think, is absolutely outstanding here and i think it’s just about right, uh, considering the materials the quality is flawless and it is swiss made. Let’s, not forget, but the main positive has got to be the heritage.
It’s, the biggest factor here. For me, a few brands can rival the achievements of fortis. The design is just seamless it’s very clean. It’s very classic yet modern and the proportions of the scale of everything and how it relates to everything else is just absolute perfection.
The dart has a very pleasing, symmetrical balanced layout, his strong symmetry. It’s gorgeous. I i think it’s, a really handsome watch. I think it’s very unpretentious as well. I don ‘ T often describe a watch as handsome, but i really do think that sums it up nicely.
It’s very elegant, yet, of course, with that extremely large dial – and it is mostly dial – i just love it. It’s quite mesmerizing and very very uh practical. It’s, functional at the end of the day performance.
Wise, i’m, getting about plus three seconds, which is absolutely outstanding um and it is rather versatile, maybe not on a rubber, strap it’s, not that sporty, but i do think it will work with most attire, certainly casual and definitely On a very you know, on a croc strap, it can be very dressy as well, so quite a strap monster and i think the monochromatic or monochrome scheme uh helps that um.
You know the pop-up blue, notwithstanding of course [ Music ]. So let’s talk a little bit about the negatives. Well, i don’t really like how the uh crystal sapphire there sits a little bit above the bezel.
I would have loved it to be flush. I think that refinement would have just really elevated it a little bit, not the end of the world very minor critique there. The strap, unfortunately, for me, was just too big and i can’t punch another hole in it because, of course, i’m borrowing.
This watch and this has to go back to watch bites so in the shots of me wearing it. You’re, probably going to see me using a different, strap it’s, a shame, because the strap is very, very nice indeed, and while we’re on the subject of my um small wrist, which is six and a Quarter inches uh, i think yeah.
Obviously, i’d love to see this in a 38 millimeter size. I think that would have been absolute perfection, uh, probably a good thing, because i would probably well. I know i’d end up buying it. Now, if you remember in the reno video, i reviewed the 36 millimeter iwc and thinking about it, i think it was too small for a pilot’s.
Watch pilot, watchers and divers to a certain extent need to be bigger purely for the legibility factor. Yes, 38 millimeter would have been perfect for people like me, but at the end of the day it still is a pilot watch and since time immemorial they have traditionally been oversized so again, not really a big issue.
Um pilot, watchers and divers are supposed to be big um, not just for trend’s sake or or to be fashionable or whatever. So i think this is forgiven for its larger size. It will suit most wrists and, lastly, not really a negative, but i would love to see a higher end version.
I’d, certainly be uh willing to pay more and get a fully decorated movement. You know blue screws and some lovely collage and beveling and all the rest of it i think uh just to make the most of it. You know and to really um make it even more dressy.
So, in conclusion, it is an extremely tasteful design that not only pulls from the glory days of early aviation watches, but also fortis’s, own unique undeniable uh lineage, while breitling have been releasing ever more divisive offerings.
Um iwc have kind of forgotten their tool, watch roots and ever going more upmarket fortis remains the most realistic and truly independent aviation focused swiss made watch brand, and i think this uh perfectly demonstrates this.
It’s, a true enthusiast’s. Brand not just watch enthusiasts aviation enthusiasts as well. There’s, no pretense with fortis um. I like that kind of very similarity it has and it gives the wearer a kind of feeling of pride.
I mean i know when i’m wearing my fortis. I i feel extremely proud there’s this there’s, something there uh it’s, not trying to be anything other than what it is. This, in my opinion, is the perfect, affordable, hybrid pilot watch um that can also be worn as a dress watch and perhaps, if you’re, not really into dress, watches but want something a little bit more classy looking and dressy in feel.
This is a great compromise and i think it is absolutely pure class all the way um yeah i’ve, been dying to to review this one. So a massive thank you to watchbuyers for making it happen anyway. Guys i’m, going to leave it there.
Please don’t forget to like this video, especially if you want to see more watches at this price range, um yeah. Definitely more thought is on the way, all right guys. Thank you for watching. I’ll catch you in the next one: okay, ciao
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