Fortis has long demonstrated its connection with space exploration and has been for years the official watch supplier of multiple space agencies. Continuing this tradition, in late 2021, going many steps beyond classic, sterile laboratory-done testing procedures, Fortis subjected its latest movement, the Calibre Werk 17, to a field test in space, into the stratosphere to see how the watches hold up. This resulted in the launch of the Stratoliner S-41 collection, a space-ready chronograph of a new generation. We knew the watch to be custom-built for space travellers. And it recently prove its capacities, by executing authentic in-space testing in partnership with the Swedish Space Corporation. Thirteen Fortis Stratoliner watches travelled into space and back, and these are now offered by the brand as a very exclusive limited series available upon application.
This experiment marks the second step in a series of tests done in outer space, following sending movements in the stratosphere. Late 2021, in Kiruna, Sweden, home to the Esrange Space Centre, a facility used by the Swedish Space Corporation initially for scientific research on the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, now also used to launch helium balloons, rockets and satellites into the stratosphere and beyond… Fortis, which back was yet to release the Stratoliner collection, sent 13 examples of its Calibre Werk 17 to the test, onboard a gondola. The gondola was equipped with all sorts of sensors and cameras to monitor the movements during flight. The gondola was then suspended underneath a helium balloon calculated to reach a peak altitude of 30kms. And back to the ground, the movements were all fine, even after a rough return to Earth.
Now, in 2022, Fortis moved one step further, by testing more than just movements, but actual watches. And not with a ballon, but inside a rocket. Once again in partnership with the Swedish Space Corporation, Fortis has successfully conducted its first-ever rigorous testing of timepieces in outer space. A total of thirteen Stratoliner watches were launched aboard a research rocket. They journeyed to the outer edges of the Earth‘s atmosphere alongside a variety of scientific and medical research projects, validating their resilience in the harsh, unyielding conditions of space, before making a safe return to Earth.
This journey was documented in a movie that you can see at the top of this article… A recommended look, if you ask me. And more than this, it’s the actual dedication to offering a space watch that can actually travel to space that makes the whole story such a brilliant move. Indeed, these watches were (almost) identical to the classic Stratoliner chronograph you can get from the brand, as part of the permanent collection. Just to say that your watch is suitable for the job… if ever you’re planning to travel through space!
But what matters even more today is this… The 13 watches that have been tested by Fortis and the Swedish Space Corporation will be commercialized. This is a rather unique chance to acquire a watch that has been rocket-flown and space approved… And not through an auction, with a price that only a few could ever imagine spending. On the contrary, these very special (for multiple reasons, and not only the space trip) Stratoliner S-41 White Dust Supernova will be available at a fairly reasonable price… The availability, with only 13 pieces on the market, is another story.
Besides having travelled to space and featuring a stratosphere-tested manufacture Calibre Werk 17 inside their cases, there are more unique features to these Stratoliner S-41 White Dust Supernova. These space-proof watches (and they have the track record to prove it) are slightly different visually from the “normal” Stratoliner models. A variation of the standard collection Fortis Stratoliner, they have a surprising luxurious touch, with the inclusion of 18k gold inlays on the bezel, an 18K gold case back inlay and PVD gold-coated hours, minutes, seconds and chronograph hands. The dial also comes with several luminous gold-coloured tracks. It’s all quite discreet and adds a cool touch to a watch that already has a lot to say about its previous life.
Besides these new features and the fact that inside beats one of the 13 stratosphere-tested self-winding column wheel manufacture Chronograph Calibre Werk 17, these Fortis Stratoliner S-41 White Dust Supernova retain the specifications and design of the classic Stratoliner models. Sturdy, highly-capable chronograph watches with a 41mm recycled stainless steel case, a highly appealing utilitarian design… a typical no-nonsense, instrument-like chronograph. The watch is all about performing during a mission, with a solid, clean and ultra-focused shape. The dial, close to the classic White Dust version, has a silver colour and light-absorbing grained texture and an as-clean-as-it-goes design. No frill, minimal literature and markings, focusing on the essentials. It almost has a prototype look… Inside is a movement that is produced by La Joux-Perret, and being an integrated column-wheel automatic chronograph, which is a strong evolution over the 7750 architecture, and then upgraded according to Fortis’ requirements. If you want to know more about the Stratoliner, please have a look at our hands-on story here.
Now, what about owning one of the 13 watches that made it to space, where no human could survive…? Well, as you can imagine, it’s going to be a tough one. But more than just being the fastest to push a button, it’ll be about deserving it. Interested connoisseurs must apply directly to the owner of Fortis Watches, Jupp Philipp. “The selection process is meticulously curated by Jupp himself, ensuring that each Stratoliner Supernova finds its rightful owner, an individual who appreciates its rare essence and cosmic lineage but above all, someone who will use it, cherish it and create memories with it.”
The process is simple… Drop an email at [email protected]. Submissions are open until Monday, September 4th and we certainly encourage you to be creative and honest in your reasons to own one of these, objectively, very cool 13 Fortis Stratoliner S-41 White Dust Supernova. As said, the price isn’t even crazy, as it’ll be offered at EUR 8,450, to be compared to EUR 5,300 for a model from the regular collection… More details at this page at www.fortis-swiss.com.