Fortis Diver’s Review

Archives October 11, 2002 admin

Fortis Divers Review

Due to the interest I’ve seen in Fortis watches lately on the Public Forum and Watchnet I’ve decided to offer my impressions after admittedly a short period of ownership. Richard P. had mentioned that such texts belong here and therefore my choice of posting arena but I acknowledge that discussion here tends to run towards more exclusive offerings. My apologies for the long text -guess I need an editor.


This sample is the divers chronograph which differs from the regular model in having a rotating bezel in lieu of the fixed tachymetre. Ref 605.22.11 M List Price: $ 1995.00 USD – discounts available

Outside Dimensions: 39mm diameter at bezel, 42 mm including crown with 29mm dial. Depth is 15 mm

Construction: All stainless steel in flat matte finish.
Back, crown with high shoulders and pushers all screw down.

Water resistance: 100 meters rated

Movement: Lemania 5100

Appearance: Flat black dial with luminous indices on the hour and luminous hands. Luminous Arabic numeral sat 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11. Day and date at 3 o’clock White second hand at 9 o’clock and non
independent luminous 24 hour dial at 12 o’clock. Chrono seconds and minutes centrally located and finished in bright orange. 12 hour chrono totalizer at 6 o’clock is finished in bright orange. Emblem and “Fortis” appear in white above day/date window and “Official cosmonauts chronograph automatic” appear below. Dial is calibrated in 1/5 second intervals with bolder white indices at the second or minute mark. Arabic numerals counting 5 through 55 are set off from the luminous indices.

The counter clockwise rotating bezel has numerals at each 10 minute mark and bars on the 5 minute mark. For the first 15 minutes each minute is marked off, afterwards only 3 minute markers. The start marker is a large luminous arrow.

The back is engraved “Official Cosmonauts Chronograph” around the circumference with the center being an emblem of the training center. At the bottom it says Fortis with a model number and case number underneath.

Sample Performance

I use Naval Observatory Time (1-202-762-1401) as a reference. As a secondary reference I use a quartz watch that has proved over a long period to lose exactly one second per month against this standard on a consistent basis. As I was also evaluating another watch back from repair at this time I couldn’t wear the watch as much as I would have liked. Worn for 8 or more hours a day over aeight day period it remained dead on with the reference. Worn for a few hours each day it was 5 seconds slow
over a subsequent 8 days. That’s a total of 5 seconds over 8days or 1.6 seconds per day. When worn again at 8 hours over the third week it returned to dead on. What will happen over the long haul I couldn’t say although my experience would suggest it will slow down. An interesting note is that the watch has never run down. Either I have a more active life style than I think or this watch has an efficient winding system. For comparative purposes the other watch, using a Valjoux 7750 ran
down once during this period being used for exactly the same time periods. Hardly a scientific analysis but does indicate that I got a sample in good shape.

The Chronograph

The chronograph – ahh the chrono. You know the addicted gamblers betting on which raindrop would reach the end of the pane first? – well I was the guy timing the raindrops! Absolutely perfect! Accurate to the second over a period of many hours the chrono hands were precise. They don’t jump at all and park perfectly. It must be totally dark to not clearly see the bright orange minute totalizer. A chrono fiend’s delight.

The Band

The band is ample in length as I needed to remove 3 links instead of the usual 2. It has the extension links for fitting over a wet suit. The clasp has a flip lock and 4 holes for fine adjustment. It is the flimsiest part of the watch but seems to hold up ok under duress. Link removal is via push out pins, in tight enough so as not to worry about their falling out but not so much as to invite Woody Woodpecker to help drill them out.

The Subjective

There is a razor’s edge difference between the functional and ugly as sin. One person’s ruggedly handsome is another’s
misshapen pug. This watch walks that line well, IMHO. The flat finish goes from an almost titanium dark grey to a pale grey under differing light but it never gleams. Well suited to under water work in the accompaniment of predatory sea life as well as New York’s predatory low life. It attracts no attention and you should keep it as well as your wrist.


I have never had a watch work perfectly straight out of the box – there was always some problem with either a malfunctioning chrono, sloppy hands or a bezel that needed a pipe wrench (not included) to turn. The thing about this watch is the amount of trust I placed in it immediately. For the first week or so I am constantly verifying the time on any new watch and if there was a discrepancy, calling the time to check it. This will always happen because the quartz clocks and watches that surround us usually adhere to the apparent federal law that all quartz or electric timepieces must be set 5 minutes fast. I had no such impulse with this one, knowing that it was correct. I also wasn’t overly careful about it. The watch just gives the impression that it’s built like a tank. I felt
strangely confidant about this watch from the beginning.

The View

The legibility is tremendous. Both for the dial and the bezel. I was able to read the day and date for the first time in years. It isn’t that they are larger, its that the white is so much brighter than I’ve seen before. For those of us who are over 45 the Lemania movement, although often accompanied by a busy dial is usually easier to read. This is my first 5100 and the watches I was considering all used this movement. The bezel was also a joy as there was no glare.


The watch is almost perfectly sized for my 6.5 to 7 inch wrist. If you have a large wrist you might check elsewhere. If you keep in mind that this watch is dedicated to function you can fall in love with it. If you want at least some aspect of jewelry, also look elsewhere. The watch I’ve worn most as of late is a black dialed Omega Schumacher, which is also incredibly legible -almost cartoon like. It has a far superior finish and that results in greater comfort. The Fortis, on the other hand, is meant for rugged duty such as shallow diving and some comfort will usually be sacrificed there. I did like the gentle slope of the bezel enabling it to slip under my shirt cuff, a problem with most other diving style watches that I own.

The Hoopla

Along with the watch comes some paperwork. I just feel a little foolish when a manufacturer tries to sell me the object that I have just purchased. It is supposed to make me feel warm and fuzzy I suppose. Included is an “official” certificate in both Russian and English declaring this to be certified as an official watch of the Yuri Gagarin Training Institute. Also is included a
write up of the tests performed. If it can with stand half of what they say I have a watch that can do double duty as brass knuckles or at least survive my children! Part of the report notes that it was used in open space with temperatures ranging from -200 to +100 C. The literature also cleared up a question I had – why the luminous 24 hour hand. It’s too small to read as military time; maybe for dungeons? Or, perhaps, solitary confinement? Can you bring a $2000 watch into the hole? No it’s for the astronauts who can have trouble differentiating between day and night. Fun reading.


As I chose the model with numerals as opposed to markers there was some wait for delivery. During that time the distributor called me to chat about the watch. After I received it I got email giving me the below number and email address if there was anything else I needed. Good pre and post sale attitude.


The field of aviator style watches has grown thick. My personal philosophy is that the prices of fine watches have grown so high in recent years that only those in their prime earning years can afford them. No longer are they High School graduation gifts. However the target group has aging eyes so legibility is a prime requisite. Even the dress watches seem to be more legible. Well -maybe it’s also action movie influence. In any event,
to cut short my gutter philosophy, this watch is a worthy entrant to the field. If you feel a need to have a name that impresses more, whether it be to others or to yourself this one may have you feeling deprived. Too bad, because if ruggedness and functionality are the primary concerns you’ll like this little beast. Heartily recommended.


This watch was purchased from:

PARIS 1925

1954 Union Street

San Francisco, CA 94123

(415) 567-1925, Fax (415) 567-1726

For more information and dealers contact or 800-358-9212.