Over the last several years at Baselworld, Fortis has reinvented themselves by launching a multitude of new watches. This really kicked off in 2015 with the launch of the Terrestis (aka Land) line and we went hands on with the attractive Tycoon Chronograph. In 2016, the brand focused on the Cosmonautis line (aka Space) and a bit of the Aviatis (aka Air) lines we took a look at several models including the Classic Cosmonauts Chronograph, the Dornier GMT, and the Aeromaster Chronograph. In 2017, we saw a real focus on the Aviatis side again. Balazs recently reviewed the Pilot Classic Chronograph and, today, we’ll get familiar with the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph.
If you’ve not been to the Fortis page recently, I invite you to take a look. The brand has done a commendable job of turning around its collection in a relatively short time by putting out some great looking models. The aesthetic centers on what I’d call a bit of a tactical/Teutonic look that results in watches that should look fresh for years to come. Sure, some have a lot going on in terms of info on the dial, but I like the “toolish” layout of most. Fortis has definitely become a highlight for us every year and one such standout for me was the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph.
I’ve mentioned many times over that the Valjoux/ETA 775x isn’t my favorite movement. Due to the typical choice of employing a 6/9/12 sub dial formation, the off balance look just plain bothers me. On some watches, this annoys me more than on others – last year’s Cosmonauts looks good to me, but perhaps it’s due to that watch having some history with that layout. Anyhow, with the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph, despite having a Valjoux 7750, the watch omits the 9:00 running seconds sub register. The result is a watch that gives me a nice warm and fuzzy feeling because of its inherent symmetry.
With the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph, we get a 43mm stainless steel case that’s good for 10ATM of water resistance. The lug width is a fitting 22mm and as you can see here, Fortis sent the watch on an optional NATO strap (bracelet and various straps are also available). An anti-reflective sapphire crystal is used on the front while the display back uses glass.
For me, the allure of the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph lies in its relatively austere dial. Whereas the Cockpit Two has orange highlights, the “One” opts for khaki-colored numerals around its dial, which indicate the minutes. The color represents a nice alternative to faux lume while still carrying off a warmer look. Plus, it makes strap pairing with more organic colors more feasible.
The rest of the dial pulls in white hash marks around its circumference, a triangular lumed arrow at 12:00 and some large white sword hands filled with bright white Super-LumiNova. Whether we’re looking at the central hands or the needles on the two sub registers, Fortis chose to color the attachment points in the same matte black as the dial. In the right light, the hands “float”. Owing to the aviation theme and looking a bit like an altimeter, the day/date window allows us to see three dates. I normally don’t like this type of whimsy, but this is a big watch and I suppose Fortis felt the need to use some real estate. Thankfully, the date window works well with the overall theme and is somehow relatively unobtrusive.
Coming back to the case design of the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph, it’s essentially all matte finished, but the tall polished bezel does a decent job of breaking things up. The transition from case to lugs is a bit soft, but the finishing is consistent on all four and doesn’t exhibit any unwanted beveling at the edges that’s often found on cheaper watches. The controls on the watch are pretty straightforward. Sleeved, button style pushers activate the chronograph and they’re nicely sized.
The signed, non screw-down, crown carries the Fortis logo theme to its knurling and is quite massive. As in most pilot’s watches, the reason given for its scale is ease of use for those wearing gloves. In my eyes, it extends just a bit too far, but this is less noticeable when the watch is on the wrist. It does make winding and operating easy, though. As in all Valjoux 7750’s, the watch can be handwound. Pulling the crown out one stop allows the user to spin the crown clockwise to change the date and the reverse changes the day. The second and final stop changes the time. Everything operates smoothly – just as it should.
For a watch that comes in at 43mm and sports a lug-to-lug distance just shy of 50mm, the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph wears well. For sure, a 40mm version would be interesting, but size works well with a watch like this. Despite the overall size, the lugs are short and curve toward the wrist. Even though the thick, domed, case back protrudes further than the lugs (and makes for a thick 15mm watch), I like the heft.
Even the included NATO strap works well with the watch and seems to be of high quality. It has a signed buckle and a signed stainless slider that provides and extra dose of security when the watch is taken off the wrist.
Overall, I’m impressed with the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph. It’s a damn good-looking watch that I’ve enjoyed wearing since receiving it. There are a number of companies competing within the aerospace watch such as Sinn, Tutima, IWC, Hamilton and Stowa to name but a handful. It makes choosing difficult, but it’s a good thing for consumers. And this brings me to the final point about this chronograph and that’s pricing. Known as reference 705.21.18, the Cockpit One is priced at 2,595 CHF on Fortis’ online store. I’d say that’s pretty competitive as several of the brands I mention above sell 7750-powered pilot’s watches in the same ballpark, plus or minus a couple hundred Euros. But, if you’re one who travels – and I’m guessing there’s a decent chance that you do if you’re looking at pilot’s watches – take a look at Fortis’ official USA seller, Watchbuys. The watch sells for an astoundingly different $1,680! That’s about $1,000 or 40% less, which is seriously significant and makes this watch one heck of a buy. Why the difference exists is beyond me.
With the introduction of the Fortis Cockpit One Chronograph, the brand continues to fill out its product range while making some truly attractive and compelling pieces. We’re excited to see what’s next in only a couple of weeks.