It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Fortis, who had a big year in 2020 with the introduction of the entirely new Flieger collection. These aviation inspired watches were notable for a lot of reasons, but the thing that really jumps out at me was that they offered a variety of choices to Fortis customers right off the bat, and the lineup was refined and simple (in the best way). You had the F-39 (with a smaller footprint measuring 39mm), the F-41 (guess the size of this one…) and a larger F-43 offering a choice of GMT or chronograph complications. Something very much for everyone, as long as everyone wants an aviation watch based on classic flieger tropes but with some modern design flourishes. You could even have it in any color you like, as long as it’s gray. Until now, that is, with the new F-39 and F-41 “Midnight Blue” editions, which were just unveiled.
We covered the Flieger collection fairly extensively when they were released throughout 2020, so be sure to check out those stories if you missed anything, including Blake’s thorough review of the F-39, F-41, and the F-43 Bicompax Chronograph from earlier this year. To sum up, though, these watches can be thought of as Fortis’s interpretation of pure, modern, tool watches. They’re big and chunky (even the small one), but tough, and made well. And they’ve done a difficult thing, which is to invent a cohesive design language almost out of the blue, which is very much on display here in the “Synchroline” arrangement at the top of each dial, represented as an orange ring spanning :55 to :05. This, we’re told, is to help pilot’s synchronize their formation. But also, and this can’t be underestimated, it just looks cool.
The new watches come as advertised with dials in a dark shade of blue. As in the earlier versions of the Flieger watches, orange is the dominant accent color, appearing not just on the Synchronline, but on the seconds hand, the frame for the date window at 3:00, and some dial text near 6:00. Specs are carried over from last year’s watches as well, including a 200 meter water resistance rating, 12 hour bezels, and the Fortis UW-30 movement, which is a rebadged Sellita SW200.
A blue dial, however, is not the only new element here. I should say, the “new” element isn’t new at all, as Fortis is using recycled steel in the cases of the F-39 and F-41. Using recycled materials in watch manufacturing is a trend that’s gaining steam, and we’ve seen a number of brands use recycled plastics and metals in various watch components in recent years, and there’s also been an extremely well received move by many to cut down on wasteful packaging. Fortis also notes that the gray-blue leather strap used on these watches is made from sustainable resources, but they haven’t provided much detail there.
The F-39 and F-41 Fliegers with Midnight Blue dials are available now, with both sizes carrying a retail price of CHF 1950. More information can be found via Fortis.