HANDS-ON: The new Fortis Stratoliner collection ramps up their extraterrestrial adventures HANDS-ON: The new Fortis Stratoliner collection ramps up their extraterrestrial adventures

HANDS-ON: The new Fortis Stratoliner collection ramps up their extraterrestrial adventures

Fergus Nash

Having a legitimate link to space travel is a big deal for watch brands, and Fortis are one of a handful of brands who can back up their claims. Watches like the Cosmonaut Chronograph have earned Fortis respect from all kinds of space fans as well as anyone who appreciates a good tool watch with historical significance. But, the new Fortis Stratoliner collection takes things one step further by utilising their in-house WERK 17 movement that was specifically tested in the Earth’s stratosphere.

You can read a deep-dive into Fortis’ extraterrestrial adventures here, as we looked back at their history prior to the groundbreaking WERK 17. However, the Stratoliner collection is much more than just a jacket for a shiny new movement, absolutely drenched in mid-century design cues and tasteful colours.

The case

The immediate impression of the Fortis Stratoliner is so sleek and strong that it takes a while to even notice there’s something odd going on with the case, as the lugs take on a more strut-like form. It’s not something that’s a completely new idea, but it is certainly one that isn’t seen often among well-established Swiss brands in the affordable luxury category. The brushed finish and sharp angles lend themselves to the space-age look, and the fact that the stainless steel is recycled shows a real future-forward mindset.

The case has a diameter of 41mm and a lug-to-lug of 50.4mm, fairly typical of what you’d expect for a bold sports watch with space-faring aspirations. Funnily enough, the topic of water resistance is quite pertinent for aeronautic purposes too, and so it has a 200m depth rating with a screw-down crown and a triple gasket seal.

The dial

The new look for the Fortis Stratoliner really suits its name, feeling like it would look right at home on a luxury cruise ship in the early 1960s. This almost Jetsons-like vibe can be attributed to the use of matte pastel shades and the simplified, Bauhaus-adjacent style. The older Stratoliner watches had a little bit more of a generic approach, but this new layout is injected with a personality that is sure to have a wide appeal.

The three variants all use the same baby blue colour as a highlight on the seconds hand, first 90 minutes of the hour subdial, and the first 30 minutes of both the minutes subdial and the regular dial. Each also has a ‘Dust Dial’ texture supposedly influenced by the depth of space, but which up close just looks phenomenal. The brightest dial is ‘White Dust’, with the next being a mid-toned ‘Cool Gray’, and the third ‘Cosmic Gray’ darkening things even further with black subdials. There is a fourth reference named ‘Blue Japan’, with a navy blue dial and a red and white seconds hand, but we can expect more information from Fortis to come later in the year.

The movement

Previous versions of the Fortis Stratoliner used a ubiquitous Valjoux 7750 movement, one of the first automatic chronograph movements with a day-date complication that became wildly popular in the 1970s especially. The new in-house WERK 17 builds upon the same core layout, with a day-date complication, automatic winding, and a triple-register chronograph. It’s by no means a clone of that famed movement though, being purpose-built for space flight.

To say the watches were tested in space may be a slight embellishment of the truth, given that the stratosphere is only the second of Earth’s five atmospheric layers, but seeing them overlook a clear image of the globe is certainly evocative and impressive. The display caseback of the watch is quite intriguing too, using a smoked sapphire for the majority of the industrial-looking movement and a small porthole of clear sapphire to showcase the column wheel — clearly a point of pride for Fortis manufacture.

The Fortis Stratoliner Collection pricing and availability:

Each reference of the Fortis Stratoliner is available for $5,150 USD on the solid steel block bracelet, or $4,800 USD on the sustainably-sourced leather strap with a folding clasp.

Case Material Recyled Stainless Steel
Case Dimensions 41mm x 49mm
Water-Resistance 200m
Dial White, grey, black, blue
Straps Steel bracelet or aviator leather
Movement WERK 17
Power Reserve 60 hours
Complications Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, day-date
Price $5,150 USD on bracelet, $4,800 USD on leather strap