Verified Owner Comments: Okay I have had the watch for 12 hours now and it is a time to get my first impressions out of the way. Per TGV format, I will give the information up front on physical dimensions as measured by my NASA calibrated calipers.
- Case: 40.1mm
- Thickness: 9.4mm
- Lug to Lug: 47.6 mm
- Lug width: 20.1mm
I have long been in the hunt for a watch with a small seconds at the 6 o’clock position. I have looked at the Heuer Caliber 6, Stowa marine Chronometer, and the Hamilton khaki navy pioneer. All of these are in the 39-41mm case size and at a reasonable thickness below 13mm. I have an affection for all things on the www.watchbuys.com website so I go their often to look.
Low and behold this Fortis came up as a 2017 Basel release and they were in stock. Not only that they were at a very reasonable price. There is a central seconds hand, this model, and a chronograph. All have this black and blue color scheme and all are stunningly beautiful. For now I will just talk about the classic pilot small seconds shown. The case is an uncomplicated affair. Completely polished with simple and understated lines.
Fortis obviously wanted the dial to be the show. Viewed directly on, the dial makes up most of the presentation. The bezel is very thin as are the lugs. Upon investigation the thin lugs almost give this watch a more formal ambiance. Dare I say classy. The back of the case has a display back with 6 screws holding it on if you care of such things. The watch only has a 50m water resistance, so please if you are flying around and have to ditch over water, make sure you have a backup time piece. With that water resistance, as you would imagine, the crown is not a screw down style.
It is appropriately sized for the thinness of the watch though. The crown on my Hamilton Khaki field 38mm is larger and more substantial, but the Fortis crown is easy to grasp and winds very nicely. One last thing about the lugs. They are only 47.6mm apart from each other and they taper down nicely to hug the wrist. They actually taper down a bit further than the bottom of the display back, so the watch sits impossibly thin on the wrist.
The dial is without a doubt the highlight of the show. Perfectly symmetrical dials are hard to come by these days, especially when a date complication is included. The ink black matte dial sits amazingly close to a perfectly flat sapphire crystal with AR applied to both sides I believe. The numerals are proportioned well and the font is very legible. Hard to tell in the pictures, but the amount of Lume applied is so generous that they almost appear applied.
Yet, unlike with some heavy lume applications, the edges of the numerals are crisp and well defined with uniform thickness and even glow. Speaking of lume, it is very good. Much better than Hamilton Lume but not quite as good as Seiko lume. I would say it is as good as Sinn 104 lume. After minimal charging just walking around under house lighting it shown brightly all night and I was abe to tell the time easily with it on my nightstand. The hands also receive generous amounts of lume applied to them and shine evenly with the hour numerals and triangles at 12 and 6.
The dial is not completely flat. The sub register for the small seconds hand is recessed a tiny bit and adds a bit of interest to the dial. The small blue seconds hand is infinitely captivating and goes about its business without being too distracting, while still be a charming addition. The date window at 6 for me is the perfect location. I always prefer the symmetry obtained by using a 6 o’clock date window. Normally I would complain about the date window not matching the color of the dial, but in this case, the white background perfectly matches the white numerals.
So I actually love it. For those who pay attention to lengths of hands, the minutes hand reaches all the way out to the individual minute markers that run around the bezel. The hour hand just barely misses the hour numerals, and at a glance you can make out the time with zero issues. It should be noted that the individual minute markers, the fortis autokmatic text and crown logo are all printed on the dial in an extremely crisp and intentional manner
Last thing I want to talk about is the strap. I am a strap changing machine. I love to swap straps. Having said that, the strap the Fortis comes on is very nice. They call it the Fortis Performance strap, and I have read somewhere the straps are made by Hirsch (which is a very good thing). It is supple and flexible despite having just the right amount of padding on it. It would be easy to overpower a watch this thin with a thick leather flieger strap (looking at you Sinn 104).
The Performance strap is a nice addition to this elegant pilots watch. It tapers just enough to add to the dressy aesthetic, while still looking masculine and strong with its texture and white stitching that is a dead ringer for the white in the numerals. Very well done. I may try another strap or two just for kicks, but I doubt I will be able to find one that captures all the elements this watch combines better than the OEM one.
SUMMARY: I think even though this is a flieger style watch and it is called a classic pilot, I think it has a hint of modern design to its aesthetic. The lack of any aged lume and simple small seconds hand and the modern material for the strap means that this watch looks both classic and modern to me. I will let the experts on UGWC decide for themselves, but it is a fascinating watch, that while simple has lots of details.