Would you travel to space if you could? When did your fascination with the heavens begin? How did you find your way to this moment in time, surrounded by rockets, balloons, and fellow space enthusiasts? These questions and more are posed to Andreas Bentele of Fortis, Stefan Kramer of Esrange, and me, Rob Nudds of Fratello.

When you put three slightly obsessive men in a hanger 145km north of the Arctic Circle, what happens? Bentele, Krämer, and Nudds discuss their relationships with space and watchmaking, as well as the factors that led to what has become a lifelong fascination. This talk was recorded just hours before the GO signal to launch a stratospheric balloon carrying Fortis’s precious payload came through. In the hours before the mission’s go-ahead was confirmed, a sense of restless unease hung in the air. The winds were high. Gusts were whipping around at break-neck speed, and exactly where we didn’t want them to whip. It looked for all the world that the balloon wouldn’t even make it off the ground. As such, passing the time with a good old chin wag seemed like a wise thing to do…

Rob and Andreas in the hanger, moments before launch

Andreas Bentele

Andreas Bentele is the head of Fortis’s marketing department and a dedicated watch fanatic. Having held the current role for more than six years, Bentele has seen the company change hands and go from a dwindling force to one of the most dynamic and exhilarating watch brands on the market today. He has, in truth, played no small part in that transformation. Known for his Tasmanian Devil levels of energy and lust for amusing chaos, his hijinks often manifest in glory or disaster. What is sure, however, is that whatever he does tends to be… memorable, at the very least.

Marcel (Fortis) and Stefan assessing the gondola the night before

Stefan Krämer

Stefan Krämer is an aerospace engineer working as the Program Manager SubOrbital Express at SSC (the Swedish Space Corporation). While that may not be a job title the young Krämer knew existed when his mind first turned toward the cosmos, it certainly seems to suit him well now. A sense of calculating calm (almost arctic-induced apathy) emanates from the man whose imposing presence and soft-spoken assurances that “everything will be fine even if it’s not” fill his team (and us, his guests) with confidence.

Me being a twit

Rob Nudds

And as for me, well, you probably know who I am or care very little. But, in summary, Rob Nudds (me) is a watchmaker and writer working in the Partnership Department of Fratello, seeking to bring or create the finest news stories in the watch industry to the dedicated Fratelli. At the same time, he (me) is collecting airports and modes of transport as he zips around the globe in search of adventure.

He’s also a pilot.

Learn more about Fortis by visiting the brand’s official website here. You can check out the SSC and read about its operations here.