Founded in 1912 in Grenchen, Fortis is best-known for crafting rugged, functional watches and for its long-lasting connection with aviation and space exploration. Since it was recently acquired by Jupp Philipp, the focus has been to craft no-nonsense tool watches with a motto “there is no function without design and there is no design without function.” After reimagining its Flieger collection, the brand went aquatic by bringing back the Marinemaster. Available in two sizes – M-44 (44mm) and M-40 (40mm) – here’s our hands-on review of the smaller model.
If the Marinemaster is a historic name connected to diving watches, the new Marinemaster has not been envisioned as a pure diving watch but as an everyday, go-anywhere tool watch. The result is a distinctive, modern design (that involved Xavier Perrenoud) with obvious attention to detail.
Starting with the case, as its name suggests, the Fortis Marinemaster M-40 measures 40mm in diameter. However, with its round opening and unique lug shape, it feels slightly bigger. Made of recycled stainless steel, the case is fully brushed, which accentuates the rugged character of the watch. The 120-click unidirectional rotating bezel operates precisely (the M-44 bezel is bidirectional with a lock mechanism) and the black fluted Gear Bezel™ offers excellent grip.
The crown is protected by a pair of crown guards. It is large enough and fluted, making it easy to use too. The solid screw-down caseback and a triple gasket screw-down crown ensure a 300m water-resistance. So, as you can see, even if the new Marinemaster is not presented as a true diving watch, it comes with substantial underwater capabilities.
The dial of the Fortis Marinemaster M-40 is embossed with a pattern made up of the squared Fortis O logo. Together with the sloping flange at its periphery, it gives the dial a pleasing sense of depth while ensuring there are no reflections. It comes in four colours inspired by nature: Serenity Blue, Rockstone Grey, Woodpecker Green and Snow White. So you have quite a large choice. The date is shown at 3 o’clock. The use of Super-LumiNova X1 for the hands and markers ensure great visibility, even in the dark.
Turning the watch over, the steel caseback is engraved with a winds star/cardinal points. Inside the Fortis Marinemaster M-40 is the calibre UW-30 Performance. Based on the Sellita SW 200-1, this tried-and-tested workhorse is precise and robust. It beats at 4Hz and has up to 38 hours of power reserve. The stop second mechanism allows for precise setting.
The Fortis Marinemaster M-40 is worn either on a steel bracelet or on a flexible integrated ‘Horizon’ rubber strap. The brand’s three-link block bracelet is robust yet flexible – its safety folding buckle is fitted with a practical quick-adjustable extension. The rubber strap matches the dial’s colour and pattern. It comes with a pin buckle and the screwed lugs ensure a secure attachment to the case.
On the wrist, the Fortis Marinemaster is a very tactile, physical watch. It feels pleasingly hefty, solid and functional. With its versatile 40mm diameter, it will fit most wrists. Its distinctive, colourful personality clearly grabs attention. I can thoroughly recommend that you go hands-on with it, if only just to check it out in person.
Now available from retailers and from the brand’s website, the price is set at EUR 2,950 on rubber strap and EUR 3,300 on steel bracelet. For more information, please visit fortis-swiss.com.