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12:16 PM

Review: Fortis Flieger Chronograph Automatic

Posted by Rennaisance Man

Fortis Flieger Chronograph Automatic


Summary:

  • 2004 European Aviation Watch of the Year
  • 40 mm diameter
  • 14 mm thick
  • ETA 7750 chronograph movement
  • Stainless steel case, crown, pushers and back
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Signed crown
  • Solid link stainless steel band
  • Flip-lock clasp
  • Central "stop" seconds hand
  • 30 minute accumulator
  • 12 hour accumulator
  • Day/date complication
  • Standard seconds hand sub-dial
  • 100 meter depth rating
I’m not that big into chronographs as I only own one. It's not this one, but I eventually hope to have a Fortis Flieger Chronograph in my own collection. Nearly all current aeronautical watches include a chronograph complication and this particular Fortis is a unique example of one.

Fortis' entire market focus and brand identity is exclusively with modern aeronautical watches, but they didn't start out solely serving that market segment as they do today. A Swiss company founded in 1912 by Walter Vogt, it set up production in 1924 with John Harwood, inventor of the automatic wristwatch, and released their first auto-winding watch in 1926. Over the years that followed, they made various types of watches including their first chronograph in 1937. Various alarm watches were introduced in the 1950’s after WWII that culminated in their Brain Matic Auto Alarm during the early 1970's.

In 1987, 75 years after the company's founding, Fortis took a direction that would ultimately change its long-term brand identity with the introduction of their Flieger collection of aviation watches. During the two decades that have followed, aeronautical and astronautical watches have become their entire focus. It has paid off for them handsomely. Fortis has been the exclusive supplier of wristwatches for manned space missions to Russian Federal Space Administration Cosmonauts since 1994. They enjoy a relationship today with the Russian Federal Space Administration that parallels the long-term relationship Omega has had with NASA. Fortis’ chronographs use the venerated ETA 7750 chronograph movement, originally designed and made by Valjoux.

Why this Fortis chronograph is special:
Some of the chronographs in their various watch lines are quite pricey. I found the Flieger collection "street prices" more affordable while having similar characteristics of their other collections. The "flagship" of the Flieger line stood out from the rest in the collection, the 40mm diameter, 14mm tall Flieger Chronograph Automatic. It's powered by an ETA 7750 in a solid stainless steel case with sapphire crystal, and a solid link stainless steel band. The chronograph is big enough with it's narrow bezel to have a nice, large dial for readability, and yet it's physically small enough not to be bulky or feel cumbersome when wearing it while flying a plane -- striking a balance between size and utility. If a pilot is that unfortunate enough to end up "in the drink" it is blessed with a 100 meter depth rating, sufficient for swimming. The Flieger Chronograph was received so well by the civil and military aviation that it received the 2004 European Aviation Watch of the Year Award. It embodies Fortis' significant strategic shift in 1987 to focusing solely on modern aviation timepieces with the introduction of the Flieger line, and it's the model within the line that has received recognition from the aviation industry for its concept and design. One couldn't ask for much more than one of their more affordable chronographs representing so much about the Fortis brand and two decades devoted to producing aviation watches.

I started out by stating I'm not that big into chronographs. Having looked at many others, this is one I can see myself saving for -- and not buying any watches for some time to accomplish it. Its street price is more affordable than many in its class, it reflects a major direction change in Fortis' history, and it carries the prestige of a significant aviation industry award.

Summary:
  • 2004 European Aviation Watch of the Year
  • 40 mm diameter
  • 14 mm thick
  • ETA 7750 chronograph movement
  • Stainless steel case, crown, pushers and back
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Signed crown
  • Solid link stainless steel band
  • Flip-lock clasp
  • Central "stop" seconds hand
  • 30 minute accumulator
  • 12 hour accumulator
  • Day/date complication
  • Standard seconds hand sub-dial
  • 100 meter depth rating
Current MSRP with the "Oyster" style stainless steel band is $1750, but with some searching it can be found substantially discounted.

Note: I have no affiliation or association with Fortis, or any of their dealers or distributors.

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