Back in October at the Windup Watch Fair, we were fortunate enough to see many brands debut entirely new and slightly updated watches, and get some early hands-on experience. One watch that became something of a fair sensation by the end of the weekend was the newest watch from Astor+Banks, a new version of their Fortitude in appealing pastel tones and the removal of the 6:00 date window. With colorful dials having a moment (thanks in no small part to a certain light blue dialed superwatch from an iconic jewelry house) the timing for this refresh couldn’t be better. The new Fortitude Lite collection recently went up for pre-order, so we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what Windup attendees had a chance to sample a few months ago.
Blake went hands-on with the original Fortitude last year, so definitely check out that review for some context on what the Fortitude is all about. This update is being billed by Astor+Banks as a refresh to what they call the “civilian” version of the watch. It’s slimmer thanks to losing some of its enhanced magnetic resistance via soft iron plates on either side of the movement, but retains its 38.5mm diameter but has been given a subtle redesign to sit flatter on the wrist. The updates feel like a true refinement of the earlier watch, and Astor+Banks deserves a ton of credit for listening to their customers and making a handful of small changes that ultimately yield a significant result.
We think the real draw for many will be the dial color variety on the Fortitude Lite. The popular “Mint Green” dial is back (as well as silver, mother-of-pearl, and sand), and the new options are similarly playful. For this round, Astor+Banks is introducing a pastel yellow Maiz dial, as well, as a crisp white “Polar,” and a soft orange Peach. Seeing all of the dial options together really drives home that the “Lite” in the name of this collection refers to more than just the specs and size being trimmed. There’s an airyness to the color options as well that is really appealing, particularly in a sea of more dramatic, darker colored dials that we frequently evaluate.
The Fortitude Lite still runs on a Miyota movement (a 9039 with 42 hours of power reserve) and the case finishing and bracelet are in line with the previous Fortitude as well. It has 200 meters of water resistance and even without the iron plates it’s rated to 4,800A/m, the minimum designation for a watch to be considered antimagnetic. It’s a totally capable daily wearer even in Lite capacity.
The Fortitude Lite is currently available for pre-order, with delivery slated to begin in mid January for all colors. The full retail price is $649, but during the pre-order period the Fortitude Lite can be ordered for $575. More information can be found here.