Fortis Official Cosmonauts Space Chronograph


by John Sealander  

The First Automatic Timepiece to be Certified for Space Travel

Fortis WatchesFortis has been involved with developing timepieces for space travel for over forty years. As early as 1962, the Fortis Spacematic was selected for use by several of the original Mercury astronauts. As the space race continued, Fortis developed new ties with the Russian space program and created a timepiece specifically for use on manned space missions. In 1994, the Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic became part of the regulation equipment handed over to cosmonauts before each launch. To this day, every cosmonaut and astronaut who goes through the training program at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia receive a Fortis watch as part of their official space equipment.

Fortis Official Cosmonauts Space ChronographFor many years, astronauts thought that a hand wound watch was necessary on space missions to ensure reliability. Fortis proved that an automatic timepiece could be just as reliable by putting the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic through some of the most rigorous endurance tests ever conducted. To simulate conditions encountered in low earth orbit, the watch was subjected to extreme negative pressure in a test chamber. In less than 160 seconds the normal air pressure of 760 Torr was lowered to near vacuum conditions of only 40 Torr and kept at this pressure for a full ten minutes before being returned to normal. The watch suffered no adverse effects and continued to perform normally.

Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic
Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic - Wrist Shot
Click to Enlarge Image

Even when the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic was subjected to an acceleration force of 12 times the force of gravity under near vacuum conditions, the watch continued to operate normally and suffered no damage. Dr. Ulf Merbold, a German physicist and astronaut, first wore the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph in deep space during the joint German/Russian Euromir space mission. Dr. Merbold used the chronograph in daily fitness training and other medical experiments during the 30-day mission. From the launch in Baikonur, Russia to the landing in the Kazakh steppe, the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic performed perfectly and proved once and for all that a manual winding watch was unnecessary for space travel.

While in orbit, astronauts experience up to 16 sunrises and sunsets during a 24-hour period. Under these disorienting conditions, an accurate wristwatch can help astronauts maintain their orientation to “earth time.” During his mission, Dr. Merbold was impressed with how the neon orange chronograph hands and strong luminosity of the tritium-enhanced hands and numerals on the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph made visibility easy under the adverse lighting conditions found on the space station.

Although Fortis has certified new models of the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic for space flight, the original 38mm stainless steel timepiece is still in production. The only change is that a modified ETA 7750 movement has been substituted for the original Lemania 5100 movement. The watch is available with a 60-minute rotating “countdown” bezel or a fixed tachymeter scale. Cosmonauts are presented with a special “Cosmonauts Set” that includes a special oversized nylon band that is designed to be worn over a spacesuit, along with the standard leather strap and stainless steel bracelet. In recent years, the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic Collection has been expanded to include a model based on the Fortis B-42 for those who prefer a larger diameter timepiece.

The Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic is an extremely rugged precision instrument that has been subjected to some of the most rigorous testing ever endured by a production timepiece. The build quality on this watch is impressive, from the solid steel bracelet to the double coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal, screw down crown and chronograph pushers. This is a timepiece that won’t let you down, whether you’re in deep space or just driving around town. To this day, the Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic is still the only official timepiece of the Russian Space Program.

Fortis Official Cosmonauts Space ChronographMany of today’s “performance watches” are nothing more than clever marketing. The Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph Automatic is the real thing! If you’d like to wear a timepiece that has actually proven itself in space, contact an authorized Fortis dealer immediately and ask about their growing collection of space proven timepieces.

Gevril Group US, Canada and Caribbean Fortis Watches Agent

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the sole US, Canada and Caribbean agent for Fortis Watches and the authorized Fortis watch repair service center. Contact us by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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From Grenchen into Space – 100 Years of Fortis


by John Sealander  

On March 6, 2012, Grenchen, Switzerland’s Museum of Cultural History opens From Grenchen into Space – 100 Years of Fortis, a major exhibit for space enthusiasts and watch aficionados alike.

Fortis WatchesGrenchen, Switzerland’s Museum of Cultural HistoryFor over a century Grenchen, Switzerland has been home to one of the world’s great watchmakers. Not only has Fortis made Grenchen their home for the past 100 years; they have also made history here.

Beginning March 6, the prestigious Grenchen Museum of Cultural History pays tribute to Fortis and the influential role it has played in the race to space with a major new exhibit: From Grenchen into Space – 100 Years of Fortis.

This exhibit, which will run for six months, features rare artifacts and timepieces developed to support Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts during space missions. Fortis timepieces have accumulated more time under weightless conditions than any other brand. Fortis watches have been on astronaut’s wrists since 1994 and this space-proven brand is well on their way to achieving a record 100,000 orbits around the earth.

Fortis Public Relations Director Liese-Lotte Peter and Museum Director Angela Kummer spoke at opening ceremonies for this major exhibit, immediately prior to its public opening on March 6. Gevril owner and president Samuel Friedmann also attended the opening ceremonies and received a special preview of the exhibit. According to Friedmann, “This exhibit is a testament to the technical expertise of Fortis and its commitment to the space program.”

Photos of From Grenchen into Space Taken March 6, 2012

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Actual glove from a Russian space suit - Fortis watch shown for scale
Simulated EVA - Fortis watches have actually been worn on spacewalks
Actual glove from a Russian space suit – Fortis watch shown for scale Simulated EVA – Fortis watches have actually been worn on spacewalks

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Russian R-7 rocket - every Russian spaceflight has been launched by a rocket in the R-7 family
Space trivia: the original lave lamp was named the Astro in honor of the space program
Russian R-7 rocket – every Russian spaceflight has been launched by a rocket in the R-7 family Space trivia: the original lave lamp was named the “Astro” in honor of the space program

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F-43 Flieger Crono Alarm GMT C.O.S.C. - inspired by the Fortis space heritage
Four vintage Fortis watches that have flown into space
F-43 Flieger Crono Alarm GMT C.O.S.C. – inspired by the Fortis space heritage Four vintage Fortis watches that have flown into space

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Some of the many components used in the Fortis Chrono Alarm
Fortis Spacematic poster - the Spacematic was used by the American Gemini astronauts and featured in the 2009 science fiction film CARGO
Some of the many components used in the Fortis Chrono Alarm Fortis Spacematic poster – the Spacematic was used by the American Gemini astronauts and featured in the 2009 science fiction film CARGO

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Fortis Helmet at Grenchen Museum
Fortis Watch at Grenchen Museum
Fortis branded space helmet – Fortis has been an active participant in the space program since 1994 Signed certificate showing Fortis watch qualified for space flight

Gevril Group US, Canada and Caribbean Fortis Watches Agent

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the sole US, Canada and Caribbean agent for Fortis Watches and the official Fortis watch repair service center. Contact us by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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Fortis Swiss Watches First 100 Years 1912-2012

The first Fortis factory began commercial watch production in 1912 opposite the Grenchen train station in Switzerland.

During their first 100 years, Fortis hasn’t just gone faster, further and deeper than other watch companies; they’ve re-defined horology.

Fortis WatchesStarting in March 2012, Fortis will celebrate their 100 Year Jubilee. There is certainly plenty to celebrate. The history of Fortis is a history rich with innovations and accomplishments. As far back as 1926, this 100-year-old company was surprising the world with technical achievements that both amazed watch aficionados and delighted customers.

Fortis Develops First Automatic Watch

Fortis was the first in the world to develop a practical self-winding automatic watch movement. The revolutionary Harwood Automatic became such a classic that Fortis has reissued it twice over the years.

John Harwood Inventor
of the Automatic Watch
Lady Hay Wears Hammond Automatic Watch on
Count Zeppelin 1929 Around the World Journey
Lady Drummond Hay
Glancing at the Time
John Harwood Inventor of the Automatic Watch Lady Hay Wears Hammond Automatic Watch on Count Zeppelin 1929 Around the World Journey

Lady Drummond Hay Glancing at the Time

Harwood Prototype
Front View
Harwood Prototype
Back View
Harwood Prototypes on
Blueprint Background
Harwood Prototype - Front View

Harwood Prototype - Back View Harwood Prototypes on Blueprint Background

Fortis Invents Automatic Chronograph Alarm Watch

As the company grew, more innovations followed. Fortis brought the first waterproof Swiss watches to the world with their popular Fortissimo models. Fortis began manufacturing their first chronographs in 1937 and it wasn’t long before they mastered these complex mechanisms. In 1997, 60 years after their first chronograph, Fortis patented the world`s first automatic chronograph alarm watch. This beautifully complex mechanical alarm watch is still highly prized by collectors today.

Fortis Fortissimo Automatic Bumper Watch Fortis Impression Alarm Chronograph Watch
Fortis Fortissimo Automatic Bumper Watch Fortis Impression Alarm Chronograph Watch

Fortis Blasts Off into Space

As Fortis solidified its reputation as a technical leader, people began to notice. A Fortis timepiece became an essential piece of equipment for discriminating pilots and aviators. When these aviators became astronauts and ventured into the new frontier of space, Fortis came along for the ride. Some of the original Mercury astronauts chose to wear the Fortis Spacematic watch.

Original Mercury Astronauts
Fortis Mercury Astronauts

During the Russian-German space mission to the MIR space station in 1997, the Fortis Cosmonaut Chronograph was the mission’s official timepiece. To this day, all cosmonauts and astronauts leaving the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia receive a Fortis watch as part of their official space equipment. Fortis also still has the distinction of being the first watch worn in open space, after a Fortis watch was worn outside the spacecraft on an early Russian spacewalk.

Fortis Watches in Space


Fortis has already let it be known that it would enjoy being the first watch on Mars, with the release of their spectacular Mars 500 commemorative edition.

Fortis Mars 500

Fortis Flipper World’s First Fashion Watch

At the same time that the space race was changing the world of technology, pop culture was changing society itself. Fortis was at the forefront of this cultural shift with it’s innovative new Flipper watch. Fortis Flipper Black Dial WatchWhile other Swiss watch companies were going out of business with the advent of new inexpensive quartz technology, Fortis embraced the quartz watch and created one of its most popular models ever.

The innovative Flipper was an instant hit with its colorful plastic case and interchangeable bezels. The watch became a cult classic when celebrities like The Rolling Stones, Roman Polanski, and the late Leonard Bernstein began wearing it.

Some say the watch was even instrumental in the election of the late former American president Ronald Regan. The popular Flipper was the world’s first fashion watch and became a top seller in over 40 countries.

I Like Flipper Campaign Fortis Ronald Regan Flipper Watch
I Like Flipper Fortis Ronald Regan Flipper Watch
Colorful Assortment of Fortis Flipper Watches
Large Assortment of Colorful Fortis Flipper Watches

Preeminent Fortis Pilot Watch Collections

Even though the company was producing one of the world’s most popular quartz watches, Fortis was not content to rest on its laurels. On the company’s 75th anniversary, Fortis began an ambitious program to re-launch the mechanical watches that had established the company’s reputation.

Not only was the historic Harwood automatic successfully reintroduced, so were many of the legendary pilot’s watches that had made the company a favorite with aviators worldwide. The result was a whole new generation of pilots who began wearing a Fortis watch on their wrist. The Fortis success in reintroducing the mechanical wristwatch did not go unnoticed in the industry. Many say that this Fortis initiative, which began in 1987, marked the beginning of the current renaissance of mechanical watches.

Fortis Mens 638.10.11.M B-42
Official Cosmonaut
Black Dial Chronograph Watch
Fortis Mens 635.10.11.L.08 B-42
Pilot Professional
Black Dial Chronograph Watch
Fortis Mens 635.10.12.L.01 B-42
Flieger Automatic
White Dial Chronograph Watch
Fortis Mens 638.10.11.M B-42 Official Cosmonaut Black Dial Chronograph Watch Fortis Mens 635.10.11.L.08 B-42 Pilot Professional Black Dial Chronograph Watch

Fortis Mens 635.10.12.L.01 B-42 Flieger Automatic White Dial Chronograph Watch

Fortis Limited Art Editions

100 years after it was founded in Grenchen, Switzerland, Fortis continues to set the pace for other watch companies to follow. There are Fortis watches on board the International Space Station. Fortis watches were part of a real time Russian simulation of a flight to Mars to see if man can withstand the rigors of extended space travel. Even internationally renounced artists like Michael Mattern, Andora, Rolf Sachs and Frank Burmann have gotten on the Fortis bandwagon, creating spectacular limited “art editions” for the company.

Where is Fortis going next? It’s impossible to say. One thing is certain though. The next 100 years will be even more exciting than the first. Fortis will continue to follow man into space. They will continue to lead the world in technical innovation. There are even rumors that the popular Flipper will be returning soon.

Gevril Group US, Canada and Caribbean Fortis Watches Agent

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the sole US, Canada and Caribbean agent for Fortis Watches and the official Fortis watch repair service center. Contact us by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

Join the conversation! Follow Gevril Group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog.

Fortis B-47 Mysterious Planets Limited Edition Watch Collection


by Boris Pjanic  

Fortis WatchesFortis B-47 Mysterious Planets Limited Edition Watch CollectionThe 100th anniversary of Fortis Swiss Watches in 2012 will soon be upon us. Fortis is bringing us a marvelous new watch collection to celebrate its centennial and to remind us of the brand’s longstanding association with astronautics and space exploration. The Fortis B-47 Mysterious Planets Collection, with it truly unique design, is inspired by the mystery of our planetary system. Since Fortis partners with the Russian Space Program, it is understandable that they would create such a timepiece.

Fortis B-47 Mysterious Planets Limited Edition Collection


The stunning dial layout of the Fortis B-47 Mysterious Planets timepiece is like nothing you’ve seen before. The “jumping” hours of the B-47 Mysterious Planets has been achieved through the cooperation of its genius architect and the skilled Fortis technicians. The watch’s automatic movement and rotating dial generate an ever-changing look as the day progresses, and the hour numerals appear unexpectedly and coincidentally every hour in one of the five dial windows which represent the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter in their orbits around the sun. This amazing feature distinguishes the B-47 Mysterious Planets from all astronomical timepieces produced by other watchmakers.

Fortis Mens 677-20-31-L01 B-47 Collection
Mysterious Planets Limited Edition Black Dial Watch
Fortis Mens 677-20-35-M B-47 Collection
Mysterious Planets Limited Edition Blue Dial Watch
Fortis Mens 677-20-31-L01 B-47 Collection Mysterious Planets New Limited Edition Black Dial Watch Fortis Mens 677-20-35-M B-47 Collection Mysterious Planets New Limited Edition Blue Dial Watch

The Fortis B-47 Mysterious Planets is available with a blue dial (677.20.35) or black dial (677.20.35). Personally, I prefer the blue dial, because in my mind the sky is blue, and that’s my mental reference point in connecting to the universe, knowing all too well however that a true look into space would be as black as it can get. The black dial timepiece may fit better to a suit. while the blue dial watch will most likely catch more attention. The B-47 Mysterious Planets, limited to 500 pieces, can be obtained with either a steel bracelet, leather strap, black rubber strap or blue silicone strap.

Fortis B-47 Mysterious Planets Limited Edition Watch CollectionI’m confident that this timepiece will be a great conversation starter, since it reflects a very avant-garde design and only its minute hand brings to mind the classic watch face. How exciting it must be to look at a watch changing its face throughout the day, which in my mind is a reflection of our times, when change has become a constant force. Kudos to Fortis and the B-47 Mysterious Planets Collection for expanding our imagination.

Gevril Group US, Canada and Caribbean Fortis Watches Agent

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the sole US, Canada and Caribbean agent for Fortis Watches and the authorized Fortis watch repair service center. Contact us by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

Join the conversation! Follow Gevril Group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog.