The New Stratoliner from Fortis is Ready for Space

Back in April we brought you news of the Werk 17 caliber, a new movement developed by Fortis and tested for durability in the stratosphere. Fortis, somewhat dramatically, sent their movements to the stratosphere with the help of the Swedish Space Corporation strapped to balloons. When the movements were later recovered, Fortis was able to dial in specifications for lubricants, shock absorption, and other factors that could impact a watch through a low earth orbit space flight. At the time of the movement’s public unveiling, we didn’t have information about an actual watch that it might be used in, but that changes today with the unveiling of the new Fortis Stratoliner, a different kind of space watch designed especially for a new brand of space tourism. It’s also just an incredibly cool chronograph, even if you plan on staying put right here on earth for the time being. 


A brief refresher on the finer points of the Werk 17 is probably in order before we get to the watch itself. It’s a column wheel chronograph caliber, and the movement’s key feature is a custom designed “traversing bridge”  and “tangential micro screw regulation” that Fortis claims offers a level of robustness suitable for spaceflight without sacrificing accuracy. The caliber also offers a day-date complication at 3:00 and a power reserve of 60 hours.

The Stratoliner’s dial, specifically the chronograph registers, have been designed to correlate with key stages of a Virgin Galactic flight experience. The hour totalizer at 6:00 has a sliver highlighted to the 90 minute mark, which is the approximate timeframe for the “mated climb,” or first stage of the flight, which sees the Virgin Mothership take off the Spaceship underneath it. Next is the “boost” stage, lasting 60-90 seconds, which occurs when the Spaceship is launched into the stratosphere at over three times the speed of sound. Finally, we reach the “Zero-G” and “Glide” phases of the flight, lasting 15 minutes and around 30 minutes respectively. These stages find the Spaceship actually in space, and is when those on board experience the effects of a microgravity environment before the vessel re-enters earth’s atmosphere on its way home. 

Three dial variants of the Stratoliner S-41 will be available at launch: White Dust, Cool Gray, and Cosmic Gray. The dials all have a subtle “dust” texture, and the sections of each chronograph scale that are highlighted to measure elapsed space travel times have been coated in blue SuperLuminova, which would certainly come in handy if you find yourself on a Virgin Galactic flight and using this watch for its primary intended purpose. Otherwise, it’s simply going to look incredibly cool when fully charged, which is something worth celebrating in and of itself in our book. 

In terms of specs, the Stratoliner is every bit as robust as you’d expect it to be based on the tough movement standards. The case is stainless steel and 41mm in diameter, and is water resistant to 200 meters. The crystal is sapphire (on both sides) and the crown screws down. The Stratoliner can be purchased on either a stainless steel bracelet or a leather strap. 

The new Stratoliner collection is available beginning today from Fortis, with a retail price of $4,800 on a strap, and $5,150 on a bracelet. Fortis

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.