Most watch enthusiasts are aware of the connection that Fortis has with space travel. Consequently, the brand’s B-42 Cosmonauts Chronograph has become a favorite among space-loving watch fans all over the globe. Almost three decades after introducing the first Official Cosmonauts Chronograph, Fortis now introduces the new Novonaut N-42 collection. This collection consists of three new models that sport a look that fans of the B-42 will immediately recognize. In addition, the new Novonaut comes with a proprietary movement made by La-Joux Perret. We had a chance to go hands-on with all three of the new models to find out if they are still the capable space chronographs we expect them to be.

Fortis is unapologetic in its approach to creating great new timepieces that live up to the high functional standards set in the brand’s successful past. The story of the new Novonaut collection started nearly three decades ago in 1994. That year, Fortis collaborated with the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos in making the Fortis “Official Cosmonauts Chronograph” part of the cosmonauts’ official equipment.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 Legacy Edition

The story of Fortis and space travel

As Dave explained in his article about Fortis and its connection to space travel, that same year, cosmonauts wore their Fortis chronographs during the Soyuz TM-19 missions. The cosmonauts also wore the watch in the years spanning the Mir and ISS missions from 1994 until 2003. The Official Cosmonauts Chronograph was a 38mm three-register model powered by the legendary Lemania 5100 movement. It featured sub-dials at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, just like the Valjoux 7750.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 Legacy Edition close up

Fortis replaced the original Official Cosmonauts Chronograph with the B-42 Official Cosmonauts Chronograph in 2004. The new watch was actually powered by the famous Valjoux 7750. On top of that, Fortis increased the size from 38mm to 42mm so that cosmonauts could handle the watch better while wearing their bulky spacesuit gloves. Over the years, we saw multiple iterations of the B-42 chronograph, and the model became a fan favorite. With the new Novonaut collection, Fortis now takes an important step into the future with its space chronograph.

Fortis Novonaut collection

The new Fortis Novonaut N-42 collection

After that bit of history, let’s start with some specs of the new Novonaut N-42 collection. The new watches feature a 42mm brushed stainless steel case with a 44mm bezel. This case is 15mm thick and 51mm from lug to lug with a 200m water resistance rating. All three watches sport a bidirectional bezel with a ceramic 60-minute insert. The inserts feature Super-LumiNova markings that light up in the dark. Fortis has chosen to release three new Novonaut models that come in different colors and finishes.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 Cobalt Blue Edition close up

The Legacy and Cobalt Blue Editions are the regular models, while the First Edition is limited to only 100 pieces worldwide. The Legacy Edition is the standard version with a matte black dial and matte black bezel insert. The watch is available on a stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp or a black hybrid fabric/rubber strap with a pin buckle. The Cobalt Blue Edition has a blue sunburst dial and a glossy blue ceramic bezel insert. It is also available with either a stainless steel bracelet or the same hybrid strap but in matching blue.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 First Edition

The limited Novonaut N-42 First Edition

The First Edition is a special version of the new Novonaut N-42 that combines a black sunburst dial with a glossy black ceramic bezel insert. Furthermore, it features some extra orange elements aside from the chronograph hands that all three models have. Also, as you can see, the sub-dial at 6 o’clock has a small rocket in it to indicate the First Edition’s special status. The watch is available only on the brand’s stainless steel Block bracelet that the other two models also come on. Overall, the First Edition is a bit more lively with the combination of a glossy black bezel insert, a sunburst dial, and more orange accents. My favorite of the trio, however, is the Legacy Edition with its matte black aesthetic. It is a look that fits the functional character of the space chronograph perfectly.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 First Edition close up

When it comes to the dial, it looks very familiar overall. It has an abundance of information, but at no point does it feel cluttered or overwhelming. The dial hosts large luminous numerals for the hours and smaller numerals for the half hours. Around the dial, you will find a 60-second countdown scale as opposed to a tachymeter on the B-42. Another difference is the right-angled shape of the rehaut, which separates the markings from the dial itself and enhances readability.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 Cobalt Blue on strap

A nicely cleaned-up dial design

I love that the Fortis designers have cleaned up the design quite nicely. As I said, at no point do you feel lost in the info the dial provides. Like its predecessor, you will find a day and date indication at 3 o’clock. The logo is neatly placed above it, and the model name is under it. The First Edition also has orange text there to indicate its special status. The sub-dials of all three watches feature circular graining to contrast either the sunburst or matte dials. Additionally, the numerals on all the sub-dials feel much more balanced and easier on the eyes than they did on the B-42.

The hands have even been updated too. Their shape isn’t different, but they’re not quite as white now. This time around, the brand chose to use blackened stainless steel hands filled with Super-LumiNova. The central chronograph hand and the two smaller hands used for the chronograph sub-dials are bright orange. The central chronograph hand features a Super-LumiNova-filled bull’s eye for keeping track of the elapsed time in the dark.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 sapphire back

The Fortis WERK 17 powers the Novonaut

Another important update is using the proprietary Fortis WERK 17 (German for “Caliber 17”) inside. This automatic column-wheel chronograph movement was tested in space, and it powers the Stratoliner chronographs that Dave reviewed last year. The movement is made by La Joux-Perret, operates at 28,800vph, and delivers a 60-hour power reserve. La Joux-Perret designed a custom traversing bridge to make the caliber extra robust and also added tangential micro-screw regulation.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 steel back

The industrially but neatly finished movement is visible through a slightly smoked sapphire crystal in the case back of the First Edition and Cobalt Blue Edition. The rotor features an engraved Fortis crown logo. The Legacy Edition features a stainless steel case back with the little Fortis rocket and the functional info engraved. The two versions with a display case back also have the rocket printed on the sapphire crystal.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 bracelet clasp

The new bracelet and straps

I had a chance to try the different watches on the bracelet and straps for the full experience. On the bracelet, these are big, heavy pieces. We weighed the Legacy Edition, and it came in at an impressive 225 grams. While the 42 × 15mm case plays a substantial role in that, the bracelet also adds a lot of weight. The three-row Block bracelet is impressive in every respect. It is heavy yet flexible and feels super solid. The clasp does too, and it features a slide mechanism for micro-adjustment. On top of that, it closes with a firm click to give you an immediate feeling of wearing a capable tool watch.

I have to give Fortis a huge compliment because all the different elements seem to be of incredibly high quality. And that not only goes for the bracelet. The Hybrid straps are awesome too. They are firm, which helps to balance the substantial weight of the watch, while at the same time being super comfortable. Additionally, the blue model looks very cool on the strap, making it the trio’s most lively model.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 First Edition on wrist

Wearing the different versions of the Fortis Novonaut

Once on the wrist, the weight is, unsurprisingly, the first thing that stands out. But that weight sits nicely on my 19cm wrist. Granted, I am a big guy, so the watch fits me really well. But this is a watch that is unapologetic in every regard. If you cannot wear big, bulky watches, this is not one for you. But if you can pull it off, you get an immediate sense of reassurance that you are wearing a well-built and capable chronograph.

Fortis Novonaut N-42 First Edition on wrist

In terms of presence, the two models with glossy bezels pop more than the matte Legacy Edition, of course. But I love the classic aesthetic of that version, and I have a feeling that’s the one that diehard fans will love too. All of the Fratello team members in the office immediately agreed that all three models perfectly bring back that familiar and trusted look of the Fortis B-42. But we also agreed that the matte black edition of the Novonaut N-42 is the most faithful to its B-42 predecessor.

Minor issues

Having said that, I truly enjoyed wearing the Cobalt Blue Edition, too. I love the lively blue color, and it is quite a striking watch on the hybrid strap. Something I didn’t notice until I wore the blue version was that it had white day and date discs. In a perfect world, I would have preferred color-matching blue discs over the current white versions. However, saying that they greatly bothered me would be a lie simply because the watch is a striking piece regardless.

The glossy black First Edition was my least favorite, but that’s not to say I didn’t like it. It simply is a matter of ranking them personally. And I can definitely see people loving this limited edition with its combination of black and orange elements. One thing I noticed while wearing the watches on the Block bracelet is that it has been engineered and executed so well that there is zero play between the links. While this is a great accomplishment, as a result, the bracelet can be a bit of a hair-puller. So, if you have a lot of/longer arm hair, be careful when you take the watch off your wrist.

Final thoughts about the new Fortis Novonaut N-42 collection

But overall, I have to say that I was really impressed by the new Fortis Novonaut N-42 collection. It is the perfect successor to the brand’s successful B-42 Cosmonaut’s Chronograph. The design is modernized nicely, the engineering and production quality is top-notch, and the addition of the new WERK 17 is a welcome update. Wearing the watch and operating the movement was an absolute joy. In every aspect, the Novonaut gave me the feeling of wearing an unapologetic and superbly competent tool watch that will function flawlessly in space.

Regarding pricing, the matte black Legacy Edition will be €4,600 on the hybrid strap and €4,950 on the bracelet. The Cobalt Blue Edition will be €4,750 on the strap and €5,100 on the bracelet. Lastly, the 100-piece limited First Edition will be available for €5,200 on the bracelet. Those are substantial prices, but they are in line with recent releases that the brand has introduced.

The future of the Fortis space chronograph

With a price of around €5K, these new Novonaut N-42s are not cheap. But I think Fortis has delivered a great series that is simply hard to beat. Every single aspect of the watch has been conceptualized and executed so well. This makes the new Novonaut a great step in the brand’s legacy of space watches.

Additionally, the Novonaut N-42 not only feels like a competent chronograph but also like a proper luxury watch. I commend Fortis on this, and I can’t wait to discover whether the new Novonaut will be a success. For now, I can say that Fortis has done everything possible to ensure that the watches uphold the legacy of the brand’s Official Cosmonaut’s Chronograph.

For more information, visit the official Fortis website, and share your thoughts on the new Fortis Novonaut collection in the comments below.

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Watch specifications

Novonaut N-42 Legacy: F2040008 (Block bracelet) / F2040009 (Hybrid strap) | Novonaut N-42 Cobalt Blue: F2040012 (bracelet) / F2040013 (strap) | Novonaut N-42 First Edition: F2040010 (bracelet)
Matte black (Legacy), sunburst blue (Cobalt Blue), or black sunburst (First Edition) with white Super-LumiNova hour numerals, circular-grained sub-dials, and day/date windows
Case Material
Stainless steel with ceramic bezel insert
Case Dimensions
42mm (case diameter; 44mm bezel) × 51mm (lug-to-lug) × 15mm (thickness)
Case Back
Solid stainless steel (Legacy Edition) or stainless steel with smoked sapphire display (Cobalt Blue and First Editions), screw-in
Fortis WERK 17 — automatic column-wheel chronograph caliber, 28,800vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve, 26 jewels,
Water Resistance
200m (20 ATM)
Stainless steel three-row Block bracelet with push-button deployant clasp and micro-adjustment slide (all versions) or fabric/rubber hybrid strap with pin buckle (Legacy and Cobalt Blue Editions)
Time (hours, minutes, small seconds), chronograph (12-hour and 30-minute counters, central seconds), day, date, bidirectional 60-minute timing bezel
Legacy Edition: €4,600 (strap) / €4,950 (bracelet) | Cobalt Blue Edition: €4,750 (strap) / €5,100 (bracelet) | First Edition: €5,200 (bracelet)
Special Note(s)
First Edition limited to 100 pieces