You may recall that Fortis sent 13 Stratoliner S-41 watches into space on a rocket last year. Yes, actual outer space, past the Kármán line and over 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. These 13 special watches were recovered, and Fortis made them available for collectors to buy via application only. One application slot was opened specifically to Fratello readers, giving one lucky individual a chance to own a piece of Fortis history and a watch with a genuine extraterrestrial tale to tell.

We had many interested readers apply to buy one of these watches, and a big “thank you” to everyone who took the time to write in. Sadly, though, there could only be one winning applicant. After reading through all the applications, Fratello reader Khalid from Toronto was hand-picked together by Fratello and Fortis. Khalid was thrilled and recently flew over to Grenchen to meet the Fortis team and pick up his watch in person. After the trip, I caught up with him to ask a few questions and learn more about how it felt to finally get this special watch on his wrist.

Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernova — from space to a passionate collector’s wrist

Fratello: Congrats on being the lucky Fratello reader who now owns one of the 13 Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernova watches that went to space. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say, right? How do you feel about owning a small piece of horological space history?

Khalid: Cool, yes! Bragging rights, yes! I cannot sum it up in words, so I recommend that readers watch Fortis’s documentary in collaboration with the SSC, and you’ll understand why I hit the jackpot. What went into this watch and what it endured is unbelievable.

Fratello: We already know a little about your watch-collecting history. For those who don’t, though, tell us a bit about your journey and how you found Fortis.

Khalid: I remember seeing a Fortis display case at the Toronto Eaton Centre in the early 2000s. The watches caught my eye because the strong, chunky steel cases just spoke to me. I knew I had to get one! In 2004, the opportunity came while traveling. I purchased the Fortis B-42 diver’s chronograph. I was hesitant because of the $2,500 price tag, but I had no regrets. It was my first luxury tool watch, and it opened my eyes to a whole different world…or galaxy? While I was in Portugal in 2015, I purchased my second piece from the brand, the Fortis Square.

Fratello reader Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernova

Fratello: So, the Fortis guys invited you over to their impressive HQ in Grenchen, Switzerland, to pick up the Stratoliner in person. Is this the first time you’ve visited a brand at its headquarters? How was it?

Khalid: Yes, my first and only time. Never would I have thought I’d get an invite to visit where it all began for Fortis in 1912. Receiving this timepiece in person meant a great deal to me. Thank you to Fortis for accommodating me on this trip to Switzerland.

Fratello reader Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernova

Fratello: OK, so on to the main event! Tell us about the moment you picked up the watch for the first time and strapped it onto your wrist — how did you feel? What was going through your head? Is there anything you want to say particularly about the experience?

Khalid: I took a deep breath. I felt like I was receiving an Oscar! This was my moment to make my mark in the watch world, but if it weren’t for Fortis and Fratello, I wouldn’t have begun this journey in the first place.

“Time” is so important to me, so when I entered the submission to own one of the “1 of 13,” I knew I would love to own one, but what were the odds? Well, now I am one of the elite “13 Guardians.”

Fratello reader Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernova

Fratello: In your words, how do space travel and watch design complement each other? How does Fortis fit into this equation?

Khalid: If you’re heading into space, that instrument on your wrist had better work. It’s a lifeline, no? Fortis is proving over and over again that its watches are nearly indestructible. They use high-end proprietary movements made by La-Joux Perret (which makes movements for many other luxury brands), so you know Fortis isn’t skimping when it comes to the best. The guys at Fortis prove that they can sacrifice a small cost to give their customers top quality.

Being at Fortis HQ proved to me that this brand will continue to make history by launching more pieces further into space and history. I also loved how the Fortis team incorporated the locally sourced Swiss gold into the 13 Stratoliner Supernovas. I’m so excited to see what these guys come up with next!

Fratello: Thanks again, Khalid! We’re stoked with how much you love the watch! Is there anything else you want to say to Fortis or the rest of the Fratello community?

Khalid: Jupp, Andreas, and Fratello — thank you from the bottom of my heart. This trip and experience solidified my belief that having such a passion for something can lead to building relationships and experiences that one will never forget. What amazing, genuine people who are in the watch world because they love what they do. Last but not least, a big thank you to my family for letting me continue to enjoy this hobby of horology!

Fratello reader Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernova

Once again, thank you to everyone who applied for the chance to own one of the space-flown Fortis Stratoliner S-41 Supernovas. It was not an easy task to pick one person, but there we are. That said, anyone who knows Fortis knows about its longstanding connection with space. I can confidently say that there will be plenty more coming from Fortis with solid connections to the world beyond our humble planet. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly what that may be!