At last year’s Baselworld, Blaise and I visited Fortis as we really hadn’t made contact with the brand during the last several years. We were pretty impressed with their new offerings at the time and their overall range. In fact, I reviewed the then-new Tycoon chronograph and Blaise reviewed a Monolith. We enjoyed the watches, and therefore, were looking forward to the Fortis Baselworld 2016 releases. I’ll go ahead and surprise the hell out of you with this statement; Fortis brought amongst the best – if not the most attractive and reasonable – all around new collections of sports watches in the entire show. Believe it…or don’t…but let’s take a look.
Before we jump into the Fortis Baselworld 2016 novelties, I will tell you that the brand kicked off their intro to us by talking about their focus on the details. Mind you, when you’ve listened to loads of presentations, these types of things can start to sound awfully meaningless by day 3. Still, though, we listened and we agree…the details are spot on in the new collection.
Things like rear-punched indices instead of applied, some creative takes on traditional hand designs, and bold new crowns with the Fortis theme repeated to create ridges are just some of the examples. Also, the brand is featuring sapphire cases on all the watches we viewed in order to see the ETA-sourced movements. Now, we can take a look.
Classic Cosmonauts Chronograph Steel and Ceramic am/pm
The Fortis Cosmonauts watch is probably their most well-known due to its usage by Russian cosmonauts in the mid-90’s. In fact, Fortis brought a space-used example (above).
This year, at the Fortis Baselworld 2016 presentation, they presented us with four new versions of their popular chronograph. Essentially, following the Terrestis Tycoon – as I reviewed – the company designates “am” for lighter colored dials and “pm” for darker dials.
Fortis went one step further and is offering the new 42mm stainless steel cosmonaute with either a traditional stainless outer tachymeter bezel or one in darker ceramic. Inside sits the venerable ETA 7750…operated via screw-down pushers…and, as stated, it can be viewed via a rear sapphire crystal. The steel bezel versions will retail for 3360 Euros while the ceramics will sell for 3580 Euros.
Our take: Blaise and I both really liked the pm version with the steel bezel. It looked extremely sharp and really doesn’t wear so big – actually, at 42mm, it wears exactly like an Omega Speedmaster Professional. This is one compelling watch if you’re after something space-oriented or even just a great looking all-around chronograph.
The am versions were also very attractive and probably allow one to note the fantastic indices. The hands on all versions are classically styled chrono hands and are perfectly proportioned. Clean, clean, clean!
Flieger Professional Chronograph
The next piece we viewed at the Fortis Baselworld 2016 meeting was the Flieger Professional Chronograph. This has some similar design aesthetics to the Cosmonauts piece, but goes with a clean bezel, pump pushers and flieger hands. The case comes up to 43mm as well, but due to the slim bezel, it doesn’t feel so large. Again, the 7750 sits inside. Take a look at the huge crown that’s featured on the Flieger models; it was very tactile and a really nice detail. This piece will retail for 2460 Euros on strap.
Our take: Blaise really liked the classic pushers and the sword hands. Here again, I like the big, bold pushers, the reasonable price and the clean high quality dial.
Next, we took a look at the Flieger Professional. This is a 41mm “three-hand” watch with day-date function. A very analog look is given some attitude with concentric rings that run around the hour indices. Additionally, the big crown is found on this model as well. Inside this watch is the ETA 2836-2N. 100m of water resistance makes it a pretty useful watch for whatever activities.
Our take: Another winner and at 1290 Euros, this should be a very competitive watch versus brands such as Sinn and the like. Here again, the Fortis Baselworld 2016 presentation surprised us with another winner.
Cockpit One and Cockpit Two
Similar to the Professional above the Fortis Baselworld 2016 introductions brought us two more three-hand watches using a similar theme. In fact, if you’re starting to feel a little “IWC” by now, we couldn’t blame you. The Cockpit One and Two are basically two dial variations and feature a gauge-like aperture for the date. The “One” is more black and white but uses beige numerals whereas the “Two” brings in the orange found on many of the Fortis pieces. 41mm is the size and 1320 Euros is the price.
Our take: Normally, I dislike these extended date apertures immensely, but I don’t find it at all distracting here. I tried these on and they’re simply sweet – especially the Cockpit One. It fits my small wrist beautifully and looks classy. A winner for sure…
This is the Fortis Baselworld 2016 entry in the basic Flieger stakes. It has a no-nonsense black and white dial with all the same high relief details as found on the other new models and comes in at 42mm. The ETA 2836 is inside as well. The case is brushed stainless and it features a large crown – not screw-down – with 200m of water resistance. The strap we photographed was a really nice textured leather. The price on this watch is 1480 Euros on leather. Oh, a PVD version comes along soon with aged lume and an orange sweep hand.
Our take: Honestly, as far as bang for the buck, this was my absolute favorite from Fortis. Unless you’re an absolute brand snob – if you’re into watches you likely are and that’s ok – this watch makes one heck of a case versus the new IWC Mark XVIII. Honestly, the dial is epic, the hands are great, and the size is perfct. Oh, and the movement is essentially the same. Best of the lot for me.
Aeromaster Steel Chronograph
As a companion piece to the Aeromaster above, the new Steel Chronograph was shown during the Fortis Baselworld 2016 discussion. Yes, if you’re an IWC fan and like the old Mark chronographs with 7750’s, this just might be of interest to you. It’s also in 42mm and has a simple design. The 200m water resistance is pretty interesting as well. Pricing on leather comes in at 2780 Euros.
Our take: This probably isn’t my favorite of the new offerings, but it seems very competitive design-wise. I do really like the left most register, though, with its crosshair design. Once again, a PVD version is coming soon.
We hope you enjoyed taking a brief look at the Fortis Baselworld 2016 novelties. I’ll say it again – these are great looking watches and I hope that Fortis does well with them. They certainly deserve a look if you’re interested in a sporty aviation-themed timepiece. We look forward to obtaining some pieces for review in the near future!
More information on Fortis can be found here.