A month ago Fortis, a brand specialized in instrument watches for flight purposes presented its modern vision of the “Flieger”. Founded in 1912 in Grenchen, the brand has, since 1987, been a reference for pilot’s watches. Fortis was recently acquired by Jupp Philipp who shared his plans to revive the brand with us, and the result is a brand new, modernized flight tool. Already presented with a BiCompax Chronograph movement, the brand now introduces more focused time-and-date watches. Let’s look at the new Fortis Flieger F-41 and F-39 Automatic.
The idea behind Fortis’ new Flieger collection is far from being a re-edition of past models. Don’t look for vintage inspiration, for fake patina, for 1940s design. This new collection is all about modernity and has to be seen as the Flieger watch of the 21st century. Still, this doesn’t mean that Fortis is turning its back on the basics of such watches, which are still proper instruments meant to be used and abused. Rugged, focused, clean and effective, this collection now welcomes a time-and-date automatic model, available in two sizes – 39mm and 41mm.
The Fortis Flieger F-41 and F-39 Automatic share most of their design elements with the already presented 43mm Chronograph model, which we reviewed here. Also, with the exception of the diameter, both new versions are identical in specifications. The case, measuring 41mm on the Flieger F-41 and 39mm on the Flieger F-39 (typical no-frills product branding), is angular, robust, not to say muscular. Sharp angles, straight lines, these watches are built to last and to survive rough environments. The caseback is solid steel, the crown screws-down and the watch is topped by a sapphire crystal with double-sided A/R coating (very efficient). Water-resistance is rated at 200m, quite rare in this Flieger category.
The Fortis Flieger F-41 and F-39 Automatic are equipped with a typical pilot’s or traveller’s rotating bezel, with a sharp, highly raised coin-edge profile. Bidirectional, it features a 12-hour scale with 24 clicks, thus acting as a timer or an additional time zone. Available on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet (with quick adjustable Slide-Clasp) or grained leather strap, the feeling that immediately comes to mind when strapping it on the wrist is quality and robustness (maybe not elegance, but that isn’t the idea behind these watches). Yet, thanks to the two different diameters, most wrists will be catered to and the watch remains comfortable and well balanced – the 39mm version is a nice, more discreet addition.
The dial of the new Fortis Flieger is all about readability and efficiency – and indeed, the display is crystal-clear in all conditions. The dials are identical on both models, only the position of the date at 3 o’clock differs. In order to provide perfect contrast and to avoid reflections, the dial of the Flieger F-41 and F-39 is matte black with a finely circular-brushed finishing on the hours chapter ring. The sword-shaped hours and minutes hands are blackened and generously filled with Super-LumiNova X1, while the seconds hand is coated with Berlac Fluor Orange.
Two features are particularly noticeable on the new Flieger Fortis collection. The first one is named “Synchroline”. Also executed in fluor orange, printed between 55 to 05 seconds, its goal is to allow pilots to synchronize when flying in squadron formation; with its +/-5 second range, each pilot can adjust to his teammates when setting the watch. The second feature is named “BRIXTRACK” and concerns the hour markers. These are not classically painted on the surface but are illuminated bricks that are applied on the circular brushed dial.
Powering these two F-41 and F-39 Automatic is a robust automatic movement, calibre Fortis UW-30 (base Sellita SW 200-1). Equipped with 26 jewels, it runs at 4Hz and boasts 38h of power reserve.
Regardless of the chosen diameter, the Fortis Flieger F-41 and F-39 Automatic will be priced at EUR 1,950 on a vegetable-tanned natural leather strap (pin buckle) and EUR 2,400 on a stainless steel bracelet. For more information, visit www.fortis-swiss.com.