5. February 2016

WATCH FACE

Fortis’ Changemaker

Ampleforth-educated Maximilian Spitzy is on a mission to revive the cosmonaut’s brand of choice.
You wouldn’t expect a firm that puts watches in space and produced Switzerland’s first automatic wristwatches to be struggling for attention, but that was exactly what Maximilian Spitzy found when he became CEO of FORTIS earlier this year.

“You have a big problem when you’re not even known in your own back yard, ” he says. He immediately began paring back the range. “We’ve gone from offering 123 models down to 49 in 2014. I don’t want a mass of watches that try to hit everyone’s tastes. I want FORTIS to do what it does best.” Among the casualties were the esoteric Mysterious Planets and Jumping Hours collections. “They were interesting watches,” says Spitzy, “But they weren’t FORTIS. We had to kick them out.” Off too went most of FORTIS’ ladies’ watches – to be replaced by a unisex 1940s-influenced Classic line come 2015.

Spitzy’s ruthless restructuring is less surprising considering his background – prior to 2014 he hadn’t worked a day in the watch industry. Educated at Ampleforth, in Yorkshire, he studied in Madrid, America and Paris, before heading to Asia, where he stayed for a decade, launching three companies. “Visiting Shanghai my mind was blown by the speed of things. You could see action! Things happen so fast – it’s not like Europe.” That doesn’t mean you won’t recognise FORTIS next year – a new range of “Flieger” pilots’ watches beckons – but you might look twice. FORTIS is now available at Page and Cooper.

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