When you’re on the hunt for your perfect watch, or even just a compulsory purchase, there is a lot out there to lust after. For example, when it comes to dive watches we’ve seen that there are a lot more than just Submariners, Seamasters or Panerais to choose from, which is great especially if you are shopping with somewhat of a limited budget. Case in point, this newly introduced Fortis Cockpit One, an automatic Swiss watch with some very nice features, in the 1000-1500 Euro/USD/CHF price bracket. Today we’re taking a long, hard look at what you get for that money in one of our familiar extensive reviews!
Fortis is a brand that probably isn’t on everyone’s radar but I don’t know if that’s necessarily fair. They definitely deserve some attention for some of their earlier collections as well as what’s available in today’s market. The most well-known pieces from the brand are perhaps the B42 or Cosmonaut’s collections, which are mostly vintage inspired, automatic chronographs and space-bound watches. And then there is the occasional odd-ball like the Stratoliner Art Editions an unusual find but nevertheless enticing as a watch if you like to stand out a little.
Overall appearance & features
The Fortis Cockpit One is a simple but effective watch; small in looks, big in stature, that kind of feeling. I might sound a bit like a broken record but I keep repeating that a watch doesn’t have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or have an intricately designed complication in order to “wow” me. As I have been wearing this modest Fortis, I have grown to really love it, particularly for its clear, understated look. That doesn’t mean it is to be overlooked, on the contrary.
If you are in the market for a well-designed, just about flawless watch on a budget, this is a welcome contender! It wears slim, due to the smart design of the case, lugs, bezel and dial so it can accompany a lot of outfits and occasions. It is a very versatile little watch, so if you buy it you will probably wear it a lot!
In terms of features this is an uncomplicated watch. It tells time, as do all watches of course, but also the day and date. To be honest, if you are not a frequent traveler this is about as much information as you need from a watch, apart from maybe a chronograph. Let’s face it though, few of those will actually be used in the environments they were intended for.
Dial and hands
The dial of the Fortis Cockpit One has two segments, if you will. The outer, raised “ring” of the dial has a minute ring on the outside edge with stick markers for every minute and thicker ones for every 5 minute. The traditional upward triangle (sometimes accompanied by two dots), a design element familiar to all fans of aviation inspired timepieces, is of course located at 12 o’clock. This triangle was first introduced in the German Beobachtungsuhren (literal translation; observation watches) or B-Uhr watches. We’ve explained the significance of these watches many times before but as a quick reminder, let me inform you why this triangle is there again and why it is so important.
In the early 1900-hundreds, aviation, navigation and wrist-worn timekeeping instruments were all in their respective infancies. As history tells us, aviation-pioneers like Alberto Santos-Dumont were fumbling around with impractical pocket watches during midflight, needing to take their hands off the controls which is not something you would likely want to do in those early days. The need for a wristwatch or at least an instrument that didn’t require hands to be taken off controls was evident. Imagine you are a pilot flying at night, at a low altitude, in a warzone in a 1930’s bomber or reconnaissance plane. Now imagine you have to keep track of the time very meticulously in order to arrive at your designated target at the exact predetermined time. This can be pretty stressful to say the least! And that’s why there is a triangle on the dial of most pilot watches. It provides a quick indication of which way is up and thus enables the wearer to see the time accurately at a glance because you instantly see where 12 o’clock is positioned.
Going back to the Fortis Cockpit One, the rest of the dial follows the basic pilot’s watch design. Pilot’s watches inherently have certain requirements, one of which is legibility. From the outside going in, we can find sword-shaped hands for the hours and minutes, coated in luminous material. A slender seconds hands, centrally mounted and also luminous finishes off the timing indication. On the right part of the dial, at 3 o’clock you see the day and date window, displayed on two discs with white on black print. The day-disc displays the current day in either English or German, whatever you fancy. Now there has always, and always will be a strong debate about how and where a date window should be placed. Should it be at 3 or 6 o’clock, how large does it have to be and should it display one number, or three like in this Fortis Cockpit One? I do not have the answer for that discussion and it is likely there is no real answer to it. As ever, it is all down to personal preferences I guess. However, Fortis had the good idea to have a black date disc, matching the dial.
The last thing I want to share about the dial is the font Fortis opted to use. It doesn’t seem special at first, but looking at it longer than 5 minutes I have really come to appreciate it. It is a clear, very crisp font in a creamy tone with large enough digits and markers to ensure maximum legibility. It is no easy feat to properly balance a watch dial and select a spot-on font and size for your markers and digits. I truly feel this is a clear example of a well-balanced and thoughtfully executed dial!
Case and Strap
The case of the Fortis Cockpit One isn’t all that special to be honest. It is a well-built case, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t stand out in one way or another. It alternates between brushed and polished surfaces and is nicely finished and assembled. Edges are good, and smooth to the touch, spacing and lines between various the parts of the case (i.e. the bezel, mid-case, caseback, etc.) are done well and overall it is more than acceptable.
At 41mm across, this watch is larger than one might expect from looking at it. Remember that the Tudor Black Bay, with the exception of the bronze one, are also 41mm wide but it look significantly larger compared to the Fortis. Now before you burn me at the stake, I know you cannot compare a pilot’s watch with a diver’s watch because they are completely different ways of construction but you get my point right?
The Fortis Cockpit One features well curved lugs and a nice, grippy crown. The lugs allow it to be neatly worn on basically any size wrist, so it is a watch for the masses. The crown is notched for easy handling, and features the Fortis crown on top of it. Pulling it out once allows you to wind the watch if needed. One more pull will set the day in one direction, and the date in the other. The final step is of course to set the time. These steps are spaced closely together but still easy to find when you need to adjust the various indications, something that I find annoyingly fiddly on some other watches I have handled in the past so well done Fortis (and ETA, the movement’s supplier)!
When it comes to straps and such, sometimes less is more and sometimes simple is better than complicated. The Fortis Cockpit One comes on a smooth, black leather strap and a simple pin buckle with Fortis crown as standard with other options available, including a steel bracelet. The strap is comfortable, don’t get me wrong but it is no more than just a simple black piece of leather. Besides the strap you see in the pictures, there is also a steel bracelet, an ostrich leather strap, an alligator strap and a leather strap in alligator look available, so you could assemble quite a versatile little package if you like changing straps every now and then. You can also select a folding clasp if you want, which adds a few more bucks to the price – and you still have the option of your own strap… And the Fortis Cockpit One will accept quite a lot of them.
The Fortis Cockpit One on @ErikasOriginal Marine Nationale strap
Part of that smooth sensation and intuitive handling of the crown I mentioned before comes down to the movement obviously. The Fortis Cockpit One is equipped with an ETA 2836-2N movement. This movement is automatically wound, with the rotor being visible through the glass caseback.
The movement boasts 38 hours of power when fully wound. The movement displays hours, minutes and seconds through its centrally located stem, and the day and date by means of two discs underneath the dial. The inside disc displays the day and the outside one the date.
The Fortis Cockpit One is a well-balanced package at a competitive price. A lot of nice touches have gone into the design and build and you get a very versatile watch, especially considering the options for straps and bracelets available from Fortis upon purchase. The Cockpit One in this review is a watch that can be worn on many occasions, even with a suit. Its modest dimensions and slim bezel give it a somewhat elegant look, without losing its pilot’s watch heritage. Considering all this though, it could very well be a watch that is somewhat overlooked compared to its competition and the price bracket it is offered at. The market of 1000-1500 Euro/Dollar/Swiss Francs is a hostile one with many great watches out there. Some of them feature a bolder design whilst maintaining the proper pilot’s watch merits so this Fortis Cockpit One might be overlooked. It shouldn’t be though because I strongly feel it deserves its place. fortis-swiss.com.
- Value for money
- Crisp and legible font
- Comfortable on the wrist
- Lots of strap options, very versatile package
- Basic strap is just that; basic
- Easily overlooked in the hostile 1000-1500 Euro/USD/CHF market and crowded market
Specifications of the Fortis Cockpit One
- Case: 41mm diameter – stainless steel, brushed and polished surfaces – sapphire crystal on both sides – 100m water resistance
- Movement: ETA 2836-2N – Automatic – 38h power reserve – 28,800vph / 4Hz – 25 jewels – Hours, minutes, seconds, day-date
- Strap: various options, leather or steel bracelet – steel pin buckle or steel folding clasp
- Price: 1,320 Swiss Francs – 1,460 USD – Available via the official webshop here.