Nothing gives a watch credentials like a stint in outer space. Fortis, founded in 1912, has long been associated with rugged pilot’s watches and became part of the official equipment of Russian cosmonauts in 1994. Launched into space on a MIR space station mission, the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph bears the logo of the Russian space authorities (Roscomos) on the caseback and continues to accumulate mission patches from ongoing International Space Station adventures. Last year, Fortis participated in a simulation of the first human landing on Mars that took place in the desert of Oman and provided chronographs for the entire team.
OEWF Amadee-18 Oman Expedition
Just before we look at the watch in detail, a few things need explaining. The simulation of a Mars landing conducted in the Sultanate of Oman in February 2018 was organised by the Austrian Space Forum (oewf.org). The OEWF is a citizen space organisation that conducts multi-disciplinary experiments to prepare humans for future missions on Mars, everything from testing out spacesuits, timing EVA, to gauging how well robotics perform in the sand. The Amadee-18 Expedition (which was the name chosen by the Austrian Space Forum since it was the nickname Mozart used when signing his letters!) took place in the stony plains and sand dunes that characterise the Dhofar region of Oman.
Similar to the extreme desert conditions on Mars, the simulation in Dhofar was conducted by a mission crew from 25 different nations who conducted 19 experiments, all the while wearing their Fortis Chronographs. The next Amadee-20 Mars simulation is scheduled for 2020 in the Negev Desert of Israel.
Official Cosmonauts Amadee-18 Chronograph
For those of you familiar with the brand, the Fortis Amadee-18 is a black PVD version of the B-42 Official Cosmonauts Chronograph reviewed by Xavier a few months ago, both iterations of the original Official Cosmonaut watch. With its strong pilot’s watch aesthetics, the robust 42mm stainless steel case of the Amadee-18 is sheathed in black PVD with contrasting white Arabic numerals that stand out a mile. The sharp coined edge of the rotating bezel clicks precisely and smoothly to measure elapsed times of up to 60 minutes and the large crown is fluted to enhance grip. Water-resistant to 200 metres, the caseback is sealed and features the Roscosmos logo. Overall, a solid tool watch.
Black and white dial
Like other Official Cosmonaut Chronos, the dial is brimming with information. The traditional 6-9-12 layout of the sub-dials responds to the Valjoux 7750 movement below deck but in the case of this watch, the small seconds counter at 9 o’clock has been decorated with the Amadee-18 Mission Logo picked out in desert-like colours of yellow and brown.
In addition to the tachymetre scale on the inner flange and the large luminescent Arabic numerals and hour markers, there is also a day/date window at 3 o’clock flanked by two arrows pointing in opposite directions. The arrows are to indicate in which direction to rotate the crown to adjust the date and day. The brand name and logo are also positioned above the day/date window while the words Chronograph Automatic appear below it. Coupled with the orange chronograph hands and the colourful mission patch, you have to admit that there is a lot of information on the dial. However, thanks to the contrast of the white markings against the black background and the green Super-LumiNova, the dial is surprisingly legible and easy to consult in practically any light conditions.
The Fortis Official Cosmonauts Amadee-18 Chronograph is powered by a Valjoux 7750, one of the most reliable automatic chronograph movements on the market running at 28,800 vibrations per hour and delivering 48 hours of power reserve.
A rugged, solid utilitarian chronograph, the Fortis Amadee-18 will appeal to trekkies and fans of space missions alike with its mission patch of the Martian simulation that took place in Oman. It even comes with sand from the Omani desert. Given the Martian theme of the mission, maybe red Super-LumiNova would have been more appropriate? The watch comes with a black leather performance strap or a bright orange rubber strap with a folding clasp. The watch retails for CHF 3,180 (incl. taxes). For more information, you can visit the Fortis website here.