Hands-On Impression of Fortis’ Baselworld Novelties

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Fortis is a brand that has grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. No, Fortis is not a newcomer to the world of horology. Not by any means. But in 2014, when the firm skipped Baselworld entirely, there was some concern that the storied company was on its way out. Then in 2015, it came back in a big way with a revamped catalog and younger management—management that, for lack of a better turn of phrase, gets it. That new team then spent 2016 streamlining and cutting the fat, purging confusing and excessive SKUs, and working at better controlling distribution. The hard work most certainly paid off, and last year’s showing at Baselworld was a worn&wound team favorite.

2017 has seen a continuation of that process, and the resulting watches clearly showcase the brand’s core competencies. We met with the Fortis team in Switzerland to get a hands-on look at the collection. Tapping its aviation heritage, Fortis introduced a number of great looking pieces that are sure to appeal to fans of both brand and niche.

Stratoliner

Fortis Baselword 2017 Stratoliner - 1
Stratoliner Ceramic a.m.

First up is the new (yet familiar) Stratoliner collection. Built around the platform of last year’s Cosmonauts chronograph, the Stratoliner comes in the same 42mm case. That means each general release watch in this new collection is available in either full stainless steel or stainless steel with a black ceramic bezel. Powering the watch is the Valjoux 7750 workhorse caliber.

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Stratoliner Steel p.m.
The 42mm case wears extremely well on a 7.5-inch wrist.

The primary departure from the Cosmonauts collection is the dial. The Stratoliner series offers more of a stripped down, tool-watch look. No applied indices, only printing. The two general releases are available in two distinct flavors: the a.m. is a white dial with creamy, almost burnt tritium-style markers; and the p.m. is its black-dialed counterpart. As mentioned above, both of these models are also available in steel cases with ceramic bezels.

What makes the a.m. especially unique, and it’s not something one would notice on a cursory glance, is that the entire white portion of the dial is actually coated in Super-LumiNova. Unlike other lumed dials that I’ve come across, which often have a chalky texture, the execution here is smooth and relatively seamless. Simply put, you wouldn’t know the dial was lumed until you stepped into a darkened room.

Stratoliner Parabola LE
Stratoliner All Black LE

Then there are two limited release models of 200 units each: the Stratoliner Parabola and the All Black. The former is a graphic panda-dial (also fully lumed) with a bit of a Daytona vibe, and the latter is a sportier, more modern take in aggressive black-gray. The final All Black production model will feature greater contrast between the sub-registers and dial.

The Stratoliner Steel a.m./p.m. will be $2,880 on leather and $3,150 on a metal band. The Stratoliner Ceramic a.m./p.m. will be $3,100 on leather and $3,370 on a metal band. The Stratoliner Parabola LE will be $3,320 on leather and $3,590 on a metal band. And the Stratoliner All Black LE will be $3,640 on leather and $3,910 on a metal band.

Spacematic

The Spacematic line exists as the point of entry into the brand, and while it may not be the most exciting watch release, there is some appeal in its simplicity. The Spacematic is a basic three-hander with a day/date powered by an ETA 2836 movement. With its cylindrical 40mm case, blocky lugs, and simple dial, the Spacematic boasts a to-the-point, tool-watch vibe that should appeal to a younger base of watch fans. It’s available in Steel and in Stealth, the latter featuring a PVD coated case.

Fortis Baselword 2017 Spacematic
Spacematic Stealth

The Spacematic Steel will be $980 on leather and $1,250 on a metal band. The Spacematic Stealth will be $1,180 on leather.

Cockpit Chronograph One/Two

We also got to play with the Cockpit One and Two Chronographs, two extensions of the last year’s popular Cockpit series (read our review of the Cockpit Two here). Unsurprisingly, a chronograph built on this platform works really well. The stainless steel case has been upsized to 43mm. The watch is powered by a Valjoux 7750, though the active seconds at nine has been omitted in favor of some branding. The text here, however, helps to balance out the altimeter day/date at three, giving the watch a pleasing symmetry.

Fortis Baselword 2017 Cockpit Chronograph - 1
The Cockpit Two Chronograph on a metal bracelet.

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Note the ochre-toned numerals on the Cockpit Two Chronograph.
The Cockpit One Chronograph on a 7.5-inch wrist.

The Cockpit One and Two Chronographs will be $2,640 on leather and $2,910 on a metal band.

Aeromaster Professional

The Aeromaster series welcomed in the year with a small facelift via two new models—the Professional and Professional Chronograph. The watch still retains much of its sporty, pilot’s vibe. The dials here are especially nice, with raised numerals and indices that give the whole thing some welcome dimensionality. The main difference comes from the new handset—two white swords with black bases—which replace the flared flieger hands from previous models. The change here really works, and it tempers the watch quite a bit. Both pieces are 42mm and feature black PVD cases. The Professional is powered by an ETA 2836 and the Professional Chronograph by a Valjoux 7750.

Fortis Baselword 2017 Aeromaster Professional Chronograph - 2
Aeromaster Professional Chronograph

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The raised elements add some great dimensionality to the dial.
Aeromaster Professional

The Aeromaster Professional will be $1,700 on leather and $2,210 on a metal band. The Aeromaster Professional Chronograph will be $3,010 on leather and $3,520 on a metal band.

Pilot Classic

Continuing the aviation thread is the newly launched Pilot Classic series, consisting of the Date, Second, and Chronograph models. At its core, this new series doesn’t reinvent the wheel, combing Fortis’ classic pilot dials with the dressier cases from their Terrestis line. But what it lacks in ingenuity, it makes up for in pure style as the pairing really works, with the cases really downplaying the aggressiveness of the dials.

The Date is powered by an ETA 2892 and the Second, with a sub-seconds dial at six, is powered by an ETA 2895. Both are housed in 40mm cases.Fortis Baselword 2017 Cockpit Chronograph - 5The star of the Pilot Classic series, however, is undoubtedly the Chronograph. Powered by an ETA 2892 with a Dubois-Depraz 2020 module, the Pilot Classic has a handsome symmetrical design courtesy of the registers positioned at three, six, and nine. And at 41mm, it’s incredibly well sized for a watch of its style.

The Pilot Classic Date will be $1,420 on leather. The Pilot Classic Second will be $1,580 on leather. And the Pilot Classic Chronograph will be $2,740 on leather.

Shoreliner

And finally, there’s the Shoreliner series, Fortis’ latest addition to its Aquatis collection, and though it’s rated to 20 bar,  Fortis doesn’t call it a diver. The Shoreliner is instead a casual sports watch with some familiar cues courtesy of the dial. On the wrist, however, the whole thing comes together in a completely fresh way. Measuring 42mm, the case is totally blacked; there are no stainless steel models.

Fortis Baselword 2017 Shoreliner - 6
The Shoreliner Vik Beach a.m. makes for a great casual watch.

Paired with the black case is a black dial available in four different flavors of accents: the Vik Beach a.m., Vik Beach p.m., Lighthouse, and Champagne Beach. The Vik Beach a.m is accented only with white highlights. The Vik Beach p.m. follows a similar thread, though the accents are a mid-tone gray. The Lighthouse has classic white indices and hands, and the Champagne Beach eschews white for a more ochre-toned color and a baby blue-tipped seconds hand. The entire collection is powered by the ETA 2836.

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Shoreliner Vik Beach p.m.
Shoreliner Lighthouse
Fortis Baselword 2017 Shoreliner - 4
Shoreliner Champagne Beach

The Shoreliner Vik Beach a.m. will be $1,720 on leather and $2,230 on metal band. The Shoreliner Vik Beach p.m. will be $1,720 on leather and $2,230 on metal band. The Shoreliner Lighthouse will be $1,750 on leather and $2,260 on metal band. And the Shoreliner Champagne Beach will be $1,780 on leather and  $2,290 on metal band.


For more information, visit Fortis.

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Ilya is worn&wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
ryvini
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  • R Khalifa

    Shoreliner definitely got a bit of the Bamford Rolex vibe, and the Aeromaster definitely swing a bit Sinn, but all in all a whole bunch of really great looking chronographs.

  • Peter D

    Fortis mistakenly playing that classic (foolish) game of 2008 – make everything 42mm.

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