Last month, independent Swiss watch manufacturer Fortis instigated much anticipation for its next release when it announced its in-house WERK 17 movement. The automatic winding calibre claimed to be designed specifically for space travel and proved itself when it was launched into stratosphere as part of a field test. Luxury watch collectors, ourselves included, have since waited patiently for the moment this movement would debut within a production timepiece. Finally, that day has come, with the launch of the Fortis Stratoliner watch collection.
Fortis have a long history creating rugged and practical watches, particularly those inspired by the worlds of aviation and space exploration. In 1962, Rolf Vogt, son of Fortis’ founder showed his excitement for the birth of space exploration by travelling to America and gifting the first space watch, the Spacematic AR (All Risks) by Fortis, to a young NASA. It was in 1994 however, that Fortis made their own mark in the history of space exploration. They became the exclusive supplier to crewed space missions authorised by the Russian Federal Space Agency with the Russian Cosmonauts wearing a Fortis Cosmonauts watch. To this day the Russian Cosmonauts still wear this watch as part of their official equipment. Now for 2022, Fortis have developed a new partnership with the Swedish Space Corporation to create the new Fortis Stratoliner series.
The WERK 17 Movement
The WERK 17 Calibre is more than just another in-house movement, but one that has been truly tested to suit the needs of those brave enough to enter space. The movement has been designed in collaboration with La Joux-Perret and features an integrated column-wheel chronograph mechanism and a robust shock-resistant traversing bridge to ensure better accuracy and durability in the harsh conditions of space. The WERK 17’s finishing is straight forward with brushed and matte parts all around. In terms of performance, we’re promised a 60 hour power reserve and a frequency of 28,800vph.
As we mentioned in the introduction, the WERK 17 automatic winding movement isn’t just talk, but it has genuinely been launched into the stratosphere to ensure it is performance-ready for a space adventure. Late last year, Fortis and the Swedish Space Corporations secured 13 movements to a special gondola which was suspended underneath a helium balloon to reach a peak altitude of 30kms. Afterwards, the movements were taken back to Switzerland, checked for accuracy and improved where necessary for the launch of the new Fortis Stratoliner watch collection.
The Fortis Stratoliner Watches
There are currently three Fortis Stratoliner watches to choose from, each offering a 41mm-wide fully brushed stainless steel case with angled lugs, broad inverted pushers and a prominent pill box crown. Together, these features give the Stratoliner a strong, unitarian look that screams resilience. The bezel is fixed and unadorned with any type of scale but features a unique black rubber stripe around its centre which nicely breaks up the otherwise monolithic profile. The case also delivers a 200 metre water resistance and sapphire crystal glass on both the front and back of the watch. The case back’s glass is smoked and features a distinctive non-tinted rounded pane above the movement’s column wheel. Circling it is an inscription that reads “Der Himmel ist nicht das Ende der Welt” which is German for “the sky is not the end of the world.”
It is the dial where the three Fortis Stratoliner watches differ, each following the same layout but executed in different colours. The first is the Fortis Stratoliner White Dust which offers a stark egg-shell white backdrop with matching white subsidiary dials with no visual borders. The second is the Fortis Stratoliner Cosmic Grey watch which is the most utilitarian in its design, opting for a medium grey base and darker grey, almost black, subsidary dials. Lastly, the Fortis Stratoliner Cool Grey watch features a grey centrepiece, one subtly lighter than its counterpart, paired with white counters. All the dials are grained in texture and feature syringe-tipped black hour and minute hands and a day and date display at 3 o’clock with the latter aperture featuring orange print.
The Fortis Stratoliner watches also feature several accents of sky blue across the dial, which turn luminous in the dark, tying in with the planned Virgin Galactic passenger spaceflight experience. These highlighted durations can be used to time the interval of the different steps of the flight. For example, if you were to engage the chronograph at the beginning of the flight, the blue segment of the 6 o’clock chronograph subsidary dial would track the mated climb portion of the experience – an 1.5 hour ascent. After, you can track up to 15 minutes in zero gravity and 90 seconds of boost phase. Completing the Fortis Stratoliner watches is a robust, stainless steel block bracelet closed by a folding buckle with a micro-adjustment device or alternatively, you can order the watches on a black aviator leather strap with folding buckle.
If you’d like to learn more about the Fortis Stratoliner watches and shop the collection for yourself, head over to the Jura Watches website here. Alternatively, get in touch with the team by calling 01335 453453 or send us a message at email@example.com.
- Case Size: 41mm
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Bezel: Fixed with rubber inlay
- Glass: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
- Crown: Screw down
- Case Back: Sapphire crystal, partially smoked with clear window over column wheel
- Water Resistance: 200 metres
- Movement: Calibre WERK 17, automatic winding
- Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, day-date
- Power Reserve: 60 hours
- Frequency: 28,800vph
- Dial: White Dust, Cosmic Grey, Cool Grey, grained texture, space blue Superluminova
- Strap: Stainless steel block bracelet or black leather strap
- Buckle: Folding
- Limited Edition: No
- RRP: £4,450 (Leather), £4,750 (Bracelet)