A Swiss brand specialised (mostly) in rugged watches meant to be used onboard planes or in outer space, Fortis continues its restructuring and revamping its collections. Last year, the brand relaunched one of its most important watches, which for once isn’t made for the air, but for exploration of planet Earth, on land and underwater. A typical all-rounder for adventure, the Fortis Marinemaster was revamped with two editions, a compact 40mm version and its bigger, bolder brother, the manufacture-powered Marinemaster M-44. Previously only available in orange, this action-ready watch now comes in 4 new colours, including a rather surprising Limited Edition.
The name Marinemaster originates from the 1950s and has since been used to indicate the brand’s highly waterproof watches. During the years the name has adorned watches with the intention to be used in aquatic life, but not necessarily ultra-focused dive watches. It could include complications such as a chronograph, or an alarm. And the new Marinemaster collection, which has been unveiled last year and marked an entirely new step in the life of this range, focused on adventure and exploration, both on land and underwater. Fortis’ vision was that of a go-anywhere-do-anything kind of watch. At least, this was the clear intention with the more compact 40mm watch, with a comfortable but not exception 300m water-resistance.
Alongside the 4 different editions of the Marinemaster M-40 was another watch, fairly identical in style, but clearly different in specifications. Larger, more resistant, bolder in style, and equipped with a more advanced movement, the Fortis Marinemaster M-44 was and still is the flagship of the range. A watch with a sizable case, a fair amount of protection, a 500m water-resistance and a bidirectional Gear Bezel with Fortis Lock System, it is powered by a COSC-certified movement by Kenissi – which already supplied the movement of the Flieger F-43 Triple GMT.
What is the Fortis Marinemaster M-44 all about? In short, it’s a rugged, focused sports watch that isn’t exactly a purpose-built diver, but a watch that can still withstand quite some underwater action. At 44mm in diameter, its recycled stainless steel case is on the bulky side, specifically due to its cushion shape without lugs. Yet, it allows for a relatively short case, with a lug-to-lug measurement of about 48mm. Not small, but not overly large either considering the overall dimensions of the watch.
What sets it apart from the classic 40mm edition is more than just a larger case and an increased water-resistance of 500 metres. In addition to the classic screw-down crown at 3 o’clock, the M-44 features an additional crown at 10 o’clock, which is linked to the bezel, and isn’t a helium escape valve. It’s a pretty straightforward locking system – simple things can be the best sometimes – where you push and turn this secondary crown to lock the bezel into place. Named Fortis Lock System, it’s linked to a bidirectional bezel, and not a unidirectional one like found on the 40mm watch. The bezel is brushed steel, features a black-coated grip on the periphery and has a 60-minute scale with luminous pearl.
The rest of the case oozes solidity and resistance to shock. The crown has lateral guards, the shapes are angular and precise, and the whole design feels rock-solid and unadorned, making for a pretty cool watch overall. The caseback, which is solid steel, is screwed to the case and the dial is protected by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides. And the crown comes with a triple gasket system and shock protection. No doubt about the capacity of the Fortis Marinemaster M-44 to resist its fair bit of action.
What’s new for this year is the addition of 3 new colours – and a fourth model, in limited edition (more on that later). Previously only available in orange, the Fortis Marinemaster M-44 now comes with new coloured accents on the inner flange and strap. The Woodpecker Green and Ocean Blue models are, accents apart, almost identical to the orange watch, with contrasting silver-coloured hands and applied indexes – minus the orange minute hand, of course. The Black Resin edition goes in a rather different direction, with a full-black dial, but golden accents on the hands, tracks and markers, as well as beige-toned Super-LumiNova. What remains on all versions is the dial’s waffle pattern, a lollipop seconds hand and a date at 3 o’clock on a black disc (with the 13 in Berlac Fluor Orange).
Inside the case of the 44mm Marinemaster is a movement with some credentials. This Calibre WERK 11 is produced by Kenissi and its base is shared with brands such as Tudor or TAG Heuer. A modern automatic movement, its precision has been certified chronometer by the COSC. It runs at a 4Hz frequency, with its balance under a transversal bridge, and boasts a comfortable power reserve of 70 hours.
As with the orange edition, the 3 new Ocean Blue, Black Resin and Woodpecker Green Fortis Marinemaster M-44 are available either on a colour-matched (and very supple) rubber strap with folding clasp or on the brand’s solid Block bracelet, equipped with a quick-adjustable Slide Clasp.
These 3 new models join the orange edition to form the permanent collection and are now available from the brand’s website here, at EUR 4,250 on rubber strap or EUR 4,600 on steel bracelet.
The Black Resin Gold Limited Edition
In addition to these new colours, the brand also launches a limited edition, with the Fortis Marinemaster M-44 Black Resin Gold. Identical in most aspects to the black model described above, this 50-piece watch features an 18k gold ring around the bezel. It will only be presented on a rubber strap and retails at EUR 6,500. It’s now available for orders.
For more details, please visit www.fortis-swiss.com.