SINCE 1912


The maxims of founder Walter Vogt were to create nothing less than the most reliable watches in the world; an outstanding, quality Swiss product which deserved the name of FORTIS.

fortis (latin) {adj.}

[1] strong, powerful [2] lasting, solid

[3] bold, brave, fearless

Today, more than 105 years after the Grenchen based headquarters released the first watches, Walter Vogt’s vision lives on in every FORTIS. To this day, every FORTIS is still hand-finished. The tests for accuracy and waterproof performance are the only processes which are automated. Because nothing can replace the skill of the experienced hands of a watchmaker. This way of thinking has become rare in this day and age. But, as an independent family company the best requirements were given to play according to our own rules and to view quality work as the greatest priority. A clear sign for FORTIS’ qualitative and unique positioning is the fact that the models in the Cosmonautis Collection have been part of the standard equipment for the Russian aerospace travel since 1994 and must therefore be able to withstand exorbitant pressure. The step into outer space reflects the pioneering spirit which has always – since FORTIS’ invention of mass-produced automatic wristwatches (Harwood, 1926) – characterised the DNA of the company in Grenchen. As well as technical innovations such as the recent first chronograph with alarm and GMT functions, FORTIS also stands for trendsetting design. In the mid-80s, the Flieger Classic range triggered a worldwide trend towards larger casings which has endured to this day and which was subsequently awarded the Aviation Watch Award in 2004. Now, FORTIS has translated these and other design classics for the new millennium – and in doing so, has sent the next generation into its maturation process towards becoming a design classic.

Since 1912

FORTIS is one of the oldest Swiss watchmakers. Since its founding in 1912, FORTIS has always pushed the boundaries of this distinguished craft.

At the age of 29, Walter Vogt already knew that a strong brand name and a perfectly functioning production are the requirements for success in a competitive, growing industry. In 1912, he implemented his plan of a modern factory, which would meet those conditions, and chose a location conveniently situated next to the train station in Grenchen, Switzerland.

FORTIS - the name

2000 Years ago in the town of Modena in Northern Italy, Lucius Aemilius Fortis had established a reputation for producing oil lamps made from yellow and red clay. The quanitity of oil was exactly calculated to last for the darker hours.

In 1913 Walter Vogt registered the brand name and logo of FORTIS for his watches. Vogt’s philosophy was to produce reliable, top quality wristwatches for the international market.

The world’s first mass-produced automatic wristwatch

In 1922, Vogt had a fateful encounter with John Harwood, a British clockmaker and inventor. Searching for a Swiss company to realize his idea of an automatic wristwatch, Harwood saw Vogt as a visionary promoter of his idea.
After four years of development the legendary model Harwood was the first automatic wristwatch ready for series production. Its acclamation at the Baselworld fair strengthened FORTIS reputation and competence worldwide.
In this regard the British journalist Lady Drummond Hay was accompanied by a Harwood automatic aboard the airship Graf Zeppelin on its first world tour in 1929. She was the only female passenger on that flight.

Pioneering achievements

In the 1930s FORTIS put its pioneering role in a new direction by manufacturing its first chronographs. Among these the Autorist was a totally new and innovative concept, using the movement of the strap to power the watch.

The world`s first waterproof watches

In 1943, one of the world’s first waterproof watches was introduced with the FORTISSIMO.

The world`s first watch with alarm - waterproof

FORTIS’ competence on this field peaked in the Manager, which won the chronometer award of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute COSC in 1956 for being the first waterproof mechanical alarm chronometer.

The era of plastic - The famous FLIPPER

The 1960s were a time of change. FORTIS launched a risky, but successful experiment, scoring a bestseller with the first Swiss plastic watch, which was water-resistant up to 200 m.

The Flieger

In the early 1990's Fortis launched the now legendary Flieger collection. Keeping true to the key designs from WW2 watches the new Flieger Collection marked a new era for the company.
But design is nothing without functionality. With its highly functional and reliable aviation watches FORTIS set two altitude records, which made it the first choice instrument for pilots and over 60 flight squadrons worldwide, including the Swiss Air Force’s PC-7 Team®.

Conquering Space

After passing endurance tests at a physical limit and in open space, the Russian Federal Space Agency ROSCOSMOS decided to name FORTIS as the official timekeeper for its missions.
Since their orbital baptism of fire aboard the space station MIR in 1994 FORTIS watches belong to the strictly defined equipment of cosmonauts. Putting forward over 100.000 earth orbits no other watches have spent more time in space. In honor to the pioneering cooperation with the space authorities their emblem is engraved in the case back of all FORTIS Cosmonautis Collection models like the legendary FORTIS Official Cosmonauts, the first automatic watch in open space.

Read the whole space story here.

The world’s first automatic alarm chronograph GMT

On the occasion of its centennial celebration in 2012, FORTIS introduced its Opus Magnum, the Daybreaker. As the world’s first and only automatic chronograph with alarm and GMT functions, the Daybreaker is one of the most complicated wristwatches ever built, consisting of more than 500 micromechanical pieces.

Throwing the anchor back in time

Inspired by elegant FORTIS designs from the 30s and 40s, the Terrestis Collection is a homage to the early days. With the latest Swiss watch technology, these models continue the success story and offer the modern gentleman a masterful combination of elegance and functionality. He can rely on his timepiece, be it at a gala dinner or at a classic polo match.A common feature of many Terrestis models and also of excellent watchmaking is the dome-shaped sapphire crystal, the “domed dial”, which can only be created with years of experience.

Time for revamping

A new era has begun. An era with extraordinary pilot watches. The 2016 version of the 704.21.11 Flieger Professional comes to the market from a family with a long and successful tradition. FORTIS has set itself particularly high aims for the watches in the Aviatis Collection, and the flagship model has of course been given extra special attention. It was particularly important here that all ideas stayed true to the traditional range, hence it came to pass that the core elements of excellent readability and clarity have been maintained.

2018 - a new mission

Together with the Austrian Space Forum Fortis is on the way to Mars. During a 3 weeks isolation period in the desert of Oman the Analog Astronauts made plenty of experiments to discover on how to survive on the red planet. Always in board: The FORTIS Official Cosmonauts AMADEE-18 watch.

Read more about the AMADEE-18 project here.

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