#TBT A Surprising Encounter With The Puzzling Fortis Easy-Math
I’m always happy to learn that there are still watches that can surprise and confound me. My recent discovery, the Fortis Easy-Math, belongs to that group.
I live in the heart of Europe. The last two weeks were really warm and sunny, finally, and made me and my kids spend the whole weekend outside, biking, playing football, or just fooling around in the sun. It was also a time to dust off and bring some of my summer watches back into the light. Looking back to last year, I remember two vintage pieces that stood closest to my heart. I had some memorable moments wearing my gray Nivada Datomaster with orange accents. The second watch I really enjoyed wearing last year was a gray Fortis Marinemaster with blue details on the dial and a blue Tropic strap.
When I bumped into the Fortis Easy-Math, it got under my skin instantly. The combination of flat blue, white, and pale gray tones is very vintage but still quite refreshing. Add the radial case brushing, and you have a shiny summer companion in front of you.
Just a few seconds with the watch is enough to get the feeling that you are looking at something unusual. First, there’s the minute “bezel”, which is not precisely a bezel as it is too close to the center of the dial and somehow sits too far above it. Then we have the slide rule that you know from the Breitling Navitimer or Gallet Excel-O-Graph. And is that a compass hand you see in the middle? Well, almost.
What the hell is it?
I am not sure any other watch contains those random elements combined into a single watch. There is a Dugena Easy-Math, but I guess we can consider it the same watch. I felt the urge to put this watch into some category, but I am unsure if I could ever come up with anything that would make sense. If you start googling the Fortis Easy-Math, it is not that rare at all, and there are a lot of records and previous sale listings available. I was quite surprised that I hadn’t bumped into an Easy-Math before.
The Fortis Easy-Math looks like a watch from the 1970s. The case’s radial sunburst brushing contrasts nicely with highly polished sides, but — here it comes… — the cushion case is not made of steel; it’s plated. This means that any scar the watch collected over the years of daily beating is highly visible and uncovers the contrasting base metal. If you want one, you want to get it in NOS condition, like the one currently listed by Sigfrid from Watches83, which has a pretty fair price tag on it.
What confused me the most was the gray minute ring and how it operates. There are two crowns. The bottom one allows you to set the time and wind the watch. The upper crown rotates the slide rule. I haven’t seen the watch in the flesh yet, so I had to figure it out. Some forum threads mention that the minute bezel and compass are printed on the crystal, which is turnable. I had serious doubts, and I can tell you not to believe it.
I contacted Sigfrid, who confirmed that the compass and minute bezel are printed on a transparent disc under the glass. “The glass does not rotate. What rotates is the transparent disc with the compass and the bezel. They rotate simultaneously through the upper crown with the slide rule,” explains Sigfrid. I didn’t find pictures of a disassembled Fortis Easy-Math, but I am sure it would be quite an interesting view. If you look at a picture of the watch from the side, you can notice how high the crystal is.
An important detail to highlight is linked to the bezel’s operation. If the watch is in NOS condition, the bezel operation seems smooth, easy, and precise. Looking at this detailed shot of the Fortis Easy-Math with the case back removed, you can see a plastic gear connected to the upper crown. On the other side, it engages teeth on the bezel disc, which are probably plastic too. Some pictures I saw online show that these teeth can be pretty worn, so I would be cautious and check the quality of the bezel/slide rule operation. Finding original replacement parts can be mission impossible. But maybe you could 3D-print them…
The video from Sigfrid further above confirms that the gray minute ring provides an unusual visual experience. As it is sort of floating over the dial and hands, the watch face gains unusual depth. Over the years, I have always found a minute bezel handy for daily use, whether while cooking, timing the kids’ play, or keeping track of short trips on a bike or in the car. So if I were about to get an Easy-Math, I would like an upper crown to be 100% functional and reliable.
Last thoughts on the Fortis Easy-Math
Although I have never used the slide rule on any watch, I am very tempted to add the Fortis Easy-Math to my watch collection. Adding a “mysterious” minute bezel and compass hand is unique, and I dare say such a triple combination has never been used in any other watch. You can hardly do better if you are looking for an individualistic piece with a lot of character. Purists would have headaches and call the dial insanely busy, but I would say it is amusingly playful. Happy hunting!
Featured image: Analog:Shift