Since 1987, the Fortis Flieger watches have been a cornerstone of the brand’s lineup. The Flieger watches from back then looked quite different from the Flieger models introduced by the Grenchen-based brand just last year (click here). It’s clear that Fortis has made a great investment into these models, which have continued to evolve over the years to reach their current style The new Flieger F-39 and F-41 Midnight Blue are the latest additions to the Fortis collection. According to Fortis, this is a true tool watch. Not just for pilots, but also for watch enthusiasts like you, and me.

In my opinion, a Flieger watch needs to tick a few boxes in order for it to truly be a pilot’s wristwatch. It needs to be incredibly legible, easy to use, and sturdy. In other words, it needs to be able to survive a little bit of abuse. The new Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 Midnight Blue are extensions of the current Flieger line-up. They are pretty much the same watch, but in two different case sizes: 39mm and 41mm respectively. So, do these Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 models tick all the boxes? Are these true tool watches or just another luxury watch that simply adopts the pilot’s watch style? Let’s buckle our seatbelts and get ready for takeoff into this first look at the latest offerings from Fortis!

The Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41

The Fortis Flieger F-39 and F-41 have a number of features that make them bona fide tool watches. Let’s start with the dial. It uses two bits of Fortis technology to make a pilot’s life much easier. One is the use of a “Synchroline”, a luminous indication on the dial which covers the area between 11:55 and 12:05. This feature makes it easier to quickly synchronize the watch with either another watch (if you’re a pilot this comes in handy) or with an atomic clock, to correct the time. In contrast to the hands and hour markers, this indication is painted with an orange luminous material (which can also be found on the running seconds hand.

Then, there’s the “Brixtrack”, which is Fortis’ name for the big luminous indexes on the circular brushed minute track that will increase the legibility in low-light conditions. The index bricks (or “Brix”) are filled up with Super-LumiNova. And, of course, the large hands are luminous as well. The Fortis Flieger F-39 and F-41 also have a rotating 12-hour scale bezel. A clever way to enable the wearer to track a second time zone without the need for a (more expensive) GMT movement. This feature is extremely useful for pilots and those who travel a lot to countries in different time zones.

Using the 12h-bezel

In order to take advantage of this GMT feature, you just need to set the 24-click 12-hour scale bezel to the time zone you are in (or to your home time). Let’s say you are in Amsterdam and want to know the time back home in NYC. Knowing that New York is 6 hours behind the time in Amsterdam, you just turn the bezel to the right until the six is at the 12 o’clock position. If the local time in Amsterdam is 10 o’clock in the morning, you will see that the home time in NYC is 4 o’clock in the morning by reading the hour from the bezel instead of the dial. Simple but effective! The only thing it doesn’t indicate is whether the time is AM or PM. But, having set the bezel yourself, you will typically already have a sense of this.

Recycled steel for the case

Other ingredients that make this watch a proper tool watch, are its screw-down crown and its water-resistance rating of 200 meters. This has little to do with being a pilot’s watch, but that’s why I refer to it with the broader “tool watch” term. Besides having all those ingredients for being both a tool and a pilot’s watch, there’s more. Sustainability in the watch industry has become more and more important, especially for the next generation of enthusiasts. That’s why Fortis is using recycled stainless steel for the case and case back. For many industries, it is already quite normal to work with recycled materials, but when it comes to the watch industry, it is something we are only now starting to see more and more often.

Dial and hands of the Fortis Flieger F-39 and F-41

The Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 are basically new dial-variation of the models that were introduced last year. But, a very good dial variation at that! I love the color blue and have a lot of different shades of it in my wardrobe. Not only that, but I also have my blue fountain pens, blue notebooks, and a blue car. Fortis uses the midnight blue tone and a brushed finishing on the dials of these Flieger watches, and it suits them well. This adds a layer of depth to them. It makes the dial a little bit more playful as well, depending on how it catches the light. The contrast with the orange of the dial elements also works nicely. These orange elements may sound overwhelming (e.g. the Synchroline, the date aperture, seconds hand, and “Automatic” wording on the dial), but they still manage to look balanced IMHO.

The luminous sword-shaped hour and minute hands are finished in a deep shade of blue, to match the dial’s Midnight Blue color. The sweeping seconds hand in fluorescent orange is clearly visible on the deep blue backdrop. The number “13” is an important one to Fortis (it is their lucky number, they say), and so all the new watches are launched on the 13th of the month. That’s also why the “13” on the date wheel is also done in a luminous orange, to match the second’s hand.

The Fortis UW-30 movement

Whether you go for the 39mm or 41mm case, the movement remains the same. The Fortis Flieger is powered by caliber UW-30, a Sellita SW 200-1 based movement. It has 38 hours of power reserve, a date function, and running at a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz). This movement has also previously been used in the other Flieger models from Fortis, and is a tried and tested, reliable movement that is clearly serving the brand well.

Bracelet is optional

Both watches come on an Indigo strap, a grey-blue calf leather strap that has been olive leaf tanned. The strap closes with a Fortis signed pin buckle in stainless steel. There is also an optional stainless steel Fortis bracelet, with a sliding micro-adjustment system in the clasp. This bracelet can be ordered separately from the Fortis e-shop.

Price and availability

The Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 Midnight Blue will be available in September 2021 and have a retail price of €2,050. The stainless steel bracelet can be ordered separately from the Fortis e-shop, for an additional €450. All prices include VAT. More information via Fortis online.

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