Fortis watches count astronauts and explorers as some of its most loyal fans, thanks to its reputation for performance and dependability. Fortis watches have flown on space missions and were the official timekeeper for the AMADEE-18 Mars Analog Mission. Features like a chronograph, calendar and GMT functionality, are not only practical but essential in these high-pressure environments. Meanwhile, interchangeable leather, rubber, or stainless steel bands on some models give Fortis watches an individual touch. Rather than follow trends, Fortis has proven that it’s a brand that continues to innovate, as well as remain consistently committed to its exacting quality standards.
Walter Vogt founded Fortis in Grenchen, Switzerland in 1912. The founder originally named the company after himself, but eventually changed it to Fortis to honor Lucius Aemilius Fortis, a reputed oil lamp maker from the time of the ancient Romans. Fortis’s oil lamps were famous for their precision and performance and Vogt wanted his brand to reflect the same quality.
A decade after the successful launch of Fortis watches, Vogt met a British clockmaker and inventor named John Harwood, who was looking for investors for his idea to produce an automatic wristwatch. Vogt supported the idea, later called “Harwood Automatic." The watch was unveiled in 1926 at Baselworld as the first patented self-winding wristwatch.
But that wasn't the only major innovation from the Fortis brand. To commemorate its 25th anniversary, Fortis released the Rolls and the Autorist, its first two chronographs. The Autorist, which Harwood designed, was the first watch to ever be powered by the movement of the strap.
Fortis has also made significant innovations in waterproof timepieces. Some of those early innovations came with its Fortissimo line, introduced in 1943. It also created the first waterproof mechanical alarm chronometer, something it was recognized for in 1956 by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute.
Fortis continued this technology development in the 1960s with the Flipper, a watch that experimented with the possibilities of plastic for waterproofing. The first of its kind and waterproof up to 200 meters, the Flipper quickly become a best-selling plastic Swiss watch. Now, many of these plastic straps have been replaced by hard-wearing rubber straps in Fortis watches.
Fortis launched the Flieger collection in the 1990s. These were highly functional, reliable aviation watches set two altitude records. Fortis became a first-choice pilot instrument for more than 60 global flight squadrons, including the Swiss Air Force’s PC-7 Team.
In 1962, the Star City Training Center selected the Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph as part of its standard-issue equipment. Fortis has also exclusively supplied the Russian Federal Space Agency's manned space missions since 1994. The Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph became the German-Russian space mission MIR 97’s official watch in 1997.
This reliability and style shine through in the Fortis Spacematic collection. Designs with rich leather straps and uncluttered faces recall a midcentury aesthetic. Styles from the Cosmonauts collection, on the other hand, are bold and modern, with useful sub-dials and stainless steel cases.