THE SPACE STORY
To create timepieces that could withstand tremendous g-forces - and no g-forces at all - has been on Walter Vogt`s mind for quite a long time already. Hooked on the theoretical and technical experiments made by the American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard (1882-1945) that demonstrated the efficiency of rocket propulsion in a vacuum, a periquisite for space travel. Hermann Oberth and Konstantin Ziolkowski together devised the idea of defying gravity and exploring interplanetary spaces. The two engineers are regarded as pioneers of space travel and the founders of rocket science and astronautics. Inspired by reading the futuristic novels of Jules Verne, Herman Oberth dreamt of flying to the moon from his earliest childhood. However such scientific advances were an utopian dream at the beginning of the 1920s. His work fascinated and inspired an entire generation of researchers. One of his followers was Wernher von Braun. He was just 30 years old when his “device”, the Aggregate-4, also called the A4 and V2, successfully took to the air for the first time. This archetypal rocket, the first man-made object capable of flying at altitudes of up to 100 km, removed the barriers to space travel. Three decades later, in 1969, the first men landed on the moon after blasting off in the gigantic US American Saturn V rocket.
The first especially for space travelling designed FORTIS watch was the SPACEMATIC AR ("AR" = All risks") which has been manufactured for the crew of the America`s Gemini space program in the 60s.
Project Gemini was NASA's second human spaceflight program. Conducted between projects Mercury and Apollo, Gemini started in 1961 and concluded in 1966. The Gemini spacecraft carried a two-astronaut crew. Ten Gemini crews flew low Earth orbit (LEO) missions during 1965 and 1966, putting the United States in the lead during the Cold War Space Race against the Soviet Union. Gemini's objective was the development of space travel techniques to support the Apollo mission to land astronauts on the Moon. It performed missions long enough for a trip to the Moon and back, perfected working outside the spacecraft with extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and pioneered the orbital maneuvers necessary to achieve space rendezvous and docking. With these new techniques proven by Gemini, Apollo could pursue its prime mission without doing these fundamental exploratory operations.
In Star City not far from Moscow the first six prospective cosmonauts started their training in March 1960. All of them were spirited by the burning desire of flying to the stars. These men gave the place its name “Star City”, which it has kept until today. On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin started as the world’s first human from Baikonur on board the spaceship Vostok into space.
Space travel is characterized by its long-term programs. Many years in advance the missions are planned, even if the political situation is changing. The Russian MIR station is a good example. Built by the Soviet Union, the manned space station was nevertheless continued to be operated after the political upheaval. The space agency Roscosmos opened MIR for joint international research projects. The modular design of the MIR station had already been tested in space by the four preceding stations “Salyut”. The Proton booster rocket transported all the elements into space. Only the docking element for the U.S. Space Shuttle was launched into orbit in the cargo bay of Atlantis.
At the same time, after many tests in different laboratories and other facilities, FORTIS was named the official watch for the Russian Roscosmos space program. The very first Official Cosmonauts watch flew into space in 1994.
In 2004 a new version of the Official Cosmonauts has been relased - the so called B42 Official Cosmonauts. Still today FORTIS offers this watch to the public. It is the watch with the most hours not only in space but also in open space. It has been worn on EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) missions that took more than 11 hours to do repairs on the outside of the ISS. Still today the Russian Cosmonauts do wear the Official Cosmonauts as their standard space equipment.
Based on this heavily space proven toolwatch plenty of other space related projects have been supported - like the current Mars project with the Austrian Space Forum: Amadee-18
In 2016 - 22 years after the reveal of the very first Official Cosmonauts Chronograph in 1994 - FORTIS decided to honour this magnificent timepiece with the Classic Cosmonauts Chronographs where the core elements of its predecessor are reinterpretated. Same case style, same functionality same dial and hand style - only difference: slightly bigger and a see through case back.
Hommage to the first successful Soyuz flight in 1968:
The first Soyuz flight was unmanned and started on November 28, 1966. The first mission with a crew, Soyuz 1, launched on 23 April 1967 but ended with a crash due to a parachute failure, killing cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. The following flight was unmanned. Soyuz 3, launched on October 26, 1968, became the program’s first successful manned mission.
The only other flight to suffer a fatal accident, Soyuz 11, killed its crew of three during re-entry when the cabin depressurized prematurely. Despite these early incidents, Soyuz is widely considered the world’s safest, most cost-effective human spaceflight system, established by its unparalleled length of operational history.
Soyuz spacecraft were used to carry cosmonauts to and from Salyut and later Mir Soviet space stations, and are now used for transport to and from the International Space Station (ISS). At least one Soyuz spacecraft is docked to ISS at all times for use as an escape craft in the event of an emergency.
50 years after the first successful manned Soyuz mission FORTIS honors these achievements with a Classic Cosmonauts Limited Edition in 2 versions. Each will be available 100 pcs.
During the Basel Watch Fair in 2017 FORTIS also presented the reincarnation of the famous Stratoliner Chronograph. The first watches, marketed under the name of Stratoliner, were launched on the market as early as 1962, due to the fact that they were being used for these reconnaissance flights. In northern Sweden on Esrange near Kiruna, the rockets MAXUS and TEXUS launched and offered research conditions like in space. The acceleration of the MAXUS rocket with 3,500 m / sec acts with up to 13 g and catapults the missile vertically up to 715 km. This is followed by a phase of about 12 minutes of free fall. On a parachute the payload lands safely on the ground. In the TEXUS program, a Brazilian VSB-30 rocket provided about six minutes of experimentation.
FORTIS`s strong believe is that the future of aviation will be somewhere between the sky and the space. The future highway - the stratosphere - is a mix of both worlds and due to the higher velocity compared to current aviation travels from one side of the earth to another could be realized within 90 minutes. Of course there will also be "future-pilots" to operate the "future-space-planes". According to the enourmous speeds FORTIS reduced the dial to indices only which easens the readability. Equipped with Superluminova the Stratoliner Chronographs are the perfect companion.
In addition to the four models, there are 2 limited special editions of 200 pieces each. The Stratoliner „Parabola“ stands for the courageous scientists who always face extraordinary challenges in their work doing parabolic flights and thus make an immense contribution to society. The second limited edition, also with 200 pieces, is the Stratoliner „All Black“, which symbolizes the outlook into the exosphere and open space, and herewith the gigantic achievements of mankind, which, on April 12, 1961 with Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, has been proven with a 108-minute around-the-world-trip.