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Timepieces without ifs and buts
The Pilot Watch Magazine
15 February 2024

Swiss Pilot’s Watches for Professionals and Amateurs

Fortis was founded in 1912 by the then 29-year-old Swiss watchmaker Walter Vogt and his colleague Alfred Rüefli as a so-called collective company for the manufacture of watches in Grenchen, Canton Solothurn. The young watchmaker quickly positioned itself successfully in the market, and production was continuously expanded. In 1926, Vogt enters into an important cooperation with the British watchmaker John Harwood, the inventor of the automatic movement. The sensation is perfect: Fortis presents the world’s first series-produced automatic watch.

Other novelties and awards follow. For example, in 1940, the presentation of one of the world’s first water-resistant watches, and in 1956, winning the leading Swiss chronometer prize. In the 1960s, under the leadership of Rolf Vogt, son of the company’s founder, Fortis ignited the trend towards lightweight, inexpensive and colorful plastic watches – a concept that is successfully continued to this day by Swatch, among others.

From the Swiss Air Force to aerobatic pilots, our pilot watches are popular with professionals and amateurs alike.


Chronographs for the cosmos

In the decades that followed, Fortis impressed with countless models for every market and every budget. Timepieces with the illustrious names Hifi-Matic, TrueLine, Skylark, Brain-Matic or Easy-Math are still sought-after relics of a bygone era in collector circles. In 2003, Fortis literally launched its Official Cosmonauts Chronograph – namely into space. Even today, Russian cosmonauts wear this watch as part of their official equipment as part of a cooperation with Fortis. in 2004, another highlight: a timepiece from Fortis received the award for the best-designed pilot’s watch in Europe.

Everything remains different

In 2018, Jupp Philipp, a watch enthusiast from Munich who lives in Switzerland, acquires the traditional family business. True to the motto “everything remains different,” Philipp successfully continues the business with new ideas and a consistently optimized model range – including, of course, pilot watches. Fortis’ core markets, in addition to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, are Japan and the United States in particular. Although online business is becoming increasingly important, the watch manufacturer from Grenchen continues to rely on jewelers and traditional watch retailers as its most important communicators and influencers.

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