As one of the few remaining Swiss “tool watch brands” Fortis still manages to almost entirely focus on functional timepieces. Like most traditional Swiss watchmakers, Fortis heavily emphasizes its heritage in both how it talks about its watches as well as what they look like. This review is of the Fortis Classic Cosmonauts Steel a.m. watch. It comes in a few versions and it isn’t entirely unlike other watches Fortis produces – though this newer model does possess its own distinctive character.
What initially caught my eye about the Classic Cosmonauts Steel a.m was the silver-colored dial as well as the healthy conservative look and feel, which I know appeals to a lot of consumers. Depending on how you look at it, Fortis is in a sense to the historic USSR space program what Omega was to NASA. I personally know of a lot less Fortis-on-cosmonaut stories as I do Omega-on-astronaut stories, but there are some interesting ones out there.
DeWitt’s tenth anniversary can be marked by the launch of a new advertising campaign addressed to the “new emperors”. One of the illustrious forebears of brand founder Jérôme p Witt, including many crowned heads of Europe, is that the Emperor Napoleon the First. DeWitt is “drawing on its rich origins and to projecting towards the current and the future by focusing on the new emperors of today and tomorrow, men and women throughout the world who have achieved success.” At a nod to its own history, the brand provides a reinterpretation of its ancestor’s famous hand-in-waistcoat gesture via understated and elegant visuals emerging in both masculine and feminine versions. The “Revolutionary by Tradition” signature accentuates the concept of a watchmaker with a daring vision, that of “building another type of Haute Horlogerie that is authentic and commendable, combining age-old experience and exceptional technical superiority.” The newest visuals feature watches in the Twenty-8-Eight collection. In another nod to Napoleon, this group was conceived on August 28th, as a tribute to the man who had been proclaimed “Emperor of the French” on the 28th of Floréal in the Republican Calendar. In 2013, it welcomes two new tourbillon versions, issued in 99-piece limited series, as well as two brand new retrograde seconds versions. The Twenty-8-Eight Tourbillons play contrasts with bold combinations of white gold and glacier-toned PVD-coated titanium, or pink stone and bronze-toned PVD-coated titanium. The dials associate Art Deco inspired vertical appliques using a beaded circle enclosing the tourbillon carriage.
The collection I am really reviewing here is the Fortis Classic Cosmonauts. The “Steel” part of the model’s name refers to the bezel color (and material), while the “a.m.” part of the name refers to the light-toned steel dial color. Outside of the various strap options, this same watch comes with a steel or black ceramic dial (“Ceramic” versus “Steel”) and the black-dialed “p.m.” version (versus the a.m. dial). Thus, the Classic Cosmonauts with the black dial and bezel would be the Fortis Classic Cosmonauts Ceramic p.m. watch. Anyhow, let’s get back to the Steel a.m. model.
Apart from seeing the columns of gears within the case, you have a view of a committed power reserve indicator, which can be a necessary component when you only have to finish the watch once or twice a month.As an unexpected modern twist, DeWitt supplies a USB powered watch winder for your WX-1. I must say I was surprised to listen to this. Why? Well first of all watch companies are notoriously slated previously. I mean we’re talking the dedicated production of mechanical watches, that out of a pure efficiency perspective more or less seceded from being practical once the quartz watch movement proved to be much more affordable and more precise. Ah, but the mechanical watch is much more sexy. It is because mechanical watches are seeped in tradition, love, and the most significant element of to a coveting collector; they’re incredibly tricky to design and fabricate. When DeWitt combined the WX-1 using a USB charger, I was amazed and intrigued. The USB charging unit functions like a little stand for the opinion. You deploy the dedicated winding stem from the watch with a little lever (the twisting stem is located in the side porthole next to the tourbillon window). Once the stem is extended, it joins with the charger that turns it out. It’s amusing you could connect this triumph of mechanical nostalgia to a pc for electricity functions. I find that this fact magical, and perhaps highly telling of watch the luxury watch industry is about; creating creations of art and surplus that must still conform to lifestyle and practical considerations.Having stated that, you likely cannot be expected to wear the DeWitt WX-1 too frequently. It’s frankly too big to fit under a top wing, and you’d be mortified to ding it.
Even though I would probably argue that Fortis sells more of the black-dialed “p.m.” versions, I think the silver-dialed a.m. version is a bit more eye-catching. It is more distinctive at the least and still offers good legibility thanks to the high-contrast black hands. One issue that seasoned collectors might have with the Classic Cosmonauts is the lack of distinctive design features. While the curation of design elements on the dial and case of the Classic Cosmonauts watches is effective and handsome, in the abstract, there isn’t too much here to tell this watch apart from others.
The Classic Cosmonaut’s case for example is basically what a 42mm wide Rolex Daytona case might look like. From the design of the bezel, lugs, crown guard, and pushers… this case is clearly an homage to the Daytona. The dial isn’t Rolex inspired, but it is inspired by military/pilot watches of the 1960s through the 1970s. Clean and effective, there is nothing wrong at all with Fortis’ particular expression of how to best render the information offered as part of the Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. Though again, it doesn’t feel like Fortis is trying to break and new ground here.
The Imperial Columns motif is much more prominent in the 39-mm, white gold instance of the DeWitt Golden Afternoon jewelry watch, with all the columns breaking the 146 brilliant-cut diamonds around the bezel. The butterflies-and-flower tableau on the mother-of-pearl marquetry dial is predominantly in elegant blue and purple tones, achieved with a mixture of powdered gemstone, pearl, platinum, gold, lapis lazuli, agate and other gemstones. The minute and hour hands with this model, like others at the Golden Afternoon set, are shaped like sculpted angel wings as well as the counterweight on the central seconds hand is evocative of a tiny flame. It’s a crystal clear sapphire caseback and comes on a shiny blue alligator strap using a DeWitt white-gold pin buckle. The retail price is $82,500. “The Basel Fair using the massive means now deployed by the large groups does not enable us to make our subtler messages correctly heard, and we’d be lost in the crowd there,” clarifies Viviane Jutheau p Witt, CEO. “We want to share our hand-crafted expertise and our worth of exclusivity, nobility and authenticity. When people have seen for themselves the complexity of the operations required to make the movements and also the range of artisan-type professions which combine in crafting the dials; once they have admired the museum of 18th and 19th century watchmaking tools and valued the architectural beauty of the Manufacture, the whole perception of the DeWitt adventure and of its watches will be profoundly different. A personalised welcome can simply reinforce the ties we cultivate with our spouses.”
I began writing this post over a month past in my head, but have not started reducing it into writing until now. It’s not that I struggle to find words acceptable for this opinion, rather, its a watch which inspires me to say a lot. Actually, calling it a watch is almost a misnomer, since it is something different entirely. Yes it does fit on your wrist, also it will tell the time, but its really not meant for that. What I’d love to do is consider how some people might approach seeing this watch, and then present my articulated perception of what the DeWitt WX-1 Concept could really be. “You find this watch? This watch costs more than your car” Alec Baldwin proclaims this confidently in the movie version of Glengarry Glen Ross (watch clip on YouTube; excellent performance). It’s a highly effective line. Should you utilize a DeWitt WX-1, then you can similarly declare to the majority of America, a connected yet enhanced version of the statement. “You find this watch? This watch costs more than your house.” Thats right, the 33 WX-1 watches created are priced at 400,000 Euros each, which is approximately $650,000. A price far above the average house worth in America. Or better stated “what gets the watch worth so much cash.” It’s a cost meant for an audience. It’s unclear who’s paying this price, but I am sure some do. The watch does not have any valuable stone, and while it does include a few stone, thats not really were the worth is. I clarify the number of hours of labour put into both building and developing the watch as a sign to its worth. I clarify the uniqueness of the plan, and undecipherable (for most) complication of the internal components. Individuals are swayed. They just didn’t get that, yet somehow I did, although it was difficult to explain.
On precisely the exact same note, it is intriguing that DeWitt probably spent the least amount of work on the aspect of this watch that tells the time. The clock portion of the watch sticks out like a node from the mothership. Unlike conventional watches which use hands, the WX-1 includes three two rotating discs. Line them up with the small arrow at the peak of the dial, and also you have the time. First look tells me that the discs are some way of compass or instrument overly complicated for the cognition. Closer inspection however shows numbers commonly found on a watch face, this must be where I educate the time, and it is. This isn’t DeWitt trying to confuse anybody, but rather to make sure the effect of the watch isn’t last. The vision of a grand complications, whose browse from advice was as beautifully conceived as the body which holds it.Smooth pushing the WX-1 case back together I recognize that all around the watch are what seem to be sapphire crystals, extremely difficult to fabricate in these shapes. I am completely impressed by this watch, and relish in seeing it at the hands of the others. What’s to say about the Plan? I submitted to the simple fact that to every one their own. I enjoy it its appearances ( even though the WX-1 doesn’t appear to care what I believe), I see it as Jules Verne-esque. Like an Victorian era spaceship. Vianney Halter has successfully created his entire brand of high-end watches round the steampunk aesthetic, and the concept is masterful. The WX-1 matches all these labels, and yet it emulates nothing especially. The in depth rivets around the instances are intended to signify the labor put into the watch.
On the exact same note, it’s interesting that DeWitt likely spent the least amount of work on the facet of the watch that tells the moment. Unlike conventional watches that use hands, the WX-1 has three two rotating disks. Line them up using the little arrow near the peak of the dialup, and you’ve got the time. First look tells me that the disks are some manner of compass or instrument too complex for my cognition. Closer inspection however shows numbers commonly found on a watch face, this should be where I tell the moment, and it is. This is not DeWitt attempting to confuse anybody, but rather to make sure the effect of this watch is not last. The vision of a grand complications, whose browse out of information was beautifully conceived as the body that retains it.Smooth pushing the WX-1 case back I realize that all around the watch are what appear to be sapphire crystals, exceptionally hard to fabricate in these shapes. I’m thoroughly impressed by this watch, and relish in seeing it in the hands of others. What is to say about the design? I filed to the simple fact that to each their own. Like an Victorian era spaceship. Vianney Halter has successfully created his whole new high-end watches around the steampunk aesthetic, and also the idea is masterful. The WX-1 matches all these labels, and yet it emulates nothing specifically. The in depth rivets around the instances are intended to signify the labor put into the watch.
If a pursuit of originality isn’t as important to you, and the assembly of design details and features appeal to you in this watch, then you’ll have a lot to look forward to. Fortis does the right thing and uses applied hour markers which are painted with luminant. This is a small element which seems to add a lot of perceived value since it upgrades the overall look and feel of the Classic Cosmonauts watch. A bit more depth is given as the sub-dials are just slightly recessed. Again, a flat dial (no depth) would have really made it hard for a timepiece like this to look as nice.
The DeWitt brand has had its ups and downs over time along with the worldwide market, but has recently really sorted out its own organizational issues and is over back on path to creating a few of the most intriguing and distinctive timepieces around – like this quite rare DeWitt Academia Out Of Time collection. Why is DeWitt watches interesting and exclusive in my opinion? Well, along with producing a whole universe of very distinctive in-house made movements with a few complications you won’t see anywhere else, DeWitt often uses designs and styles rather removed from the rest of the watch market. With that said, DeWitt is still thoroughly a Swiss-born-and-bred watch company living in harmony with other unique niche luxury brands.Someday, I will write more about Mr. Jerome DeWitt, the considerate and shy lover of all things mechanical who is both an ancestor of Napoleon Bonaparte and probably a genius of sorts – and Ms. DeWitt, the fiery engine supporting the operation who speaks with New York-style purpose, and old-world landed aristocracy expectation.For today, I’d simply like to describe that the DeWitt Academia From Time watch and what makes this an intriguing timepiece. I sort of feel bad for those individuals who cannot find this view in person. The main dial has two subdials with the left having “flying time” indicator along with the proper being a “beat second” index. What is that all about? Well, the beat seconds hand is no more than a dead seconds hand. DeWitt is actually into dead seconds complications (consider for example the trendy DeWitt Academia Grand Tourbillon that we go hands-on here). These are if an otherwise sweeping seconds hand on a mechanical movement “ticks” similar to how moments palms operate on quartz watches. For watch fans, the irony is fantastic (in addition to the background of this performance).
What’s really cool about the beat seconds hand is that it exists over a skeletonized view of the movement which allows you to see how this mechanism operates. In fact, this is the first time that I could think of that I’ve seen a dead seconds hand implemented (with the view). I think DeWitt designed the DeWitt Academia Out Of Time such a way for two reasons. One is to offer a view of the specific contraption which allows the dead seconds hand to function, and secondly is as a subtle reminder that “that is, indeed, not a quartz timepiece. “To the left of the beat second hand is something else interesting. This is the “flying time” dial and it is really a sort of foudroyante hand. Some watches which have hands that produce a complete revolution every instant, and we refer to those as “flying palms.” The main reason is they seem to move so fast, watchmakers say they’re “flying.” Instead of a traditional hand, DeWitt developed two overlapping discs. The discs have little holes, and when the upper disc moves, it creates a unique cartoon on the dial.Jerome DeWitt explained the function of the DeWitt Academia Out Of Time watch was supposed to demonstrate the visual comparison between two different indicators which still operate each second. There’s also the contrast between the slow and the rapid. It is a poetic idea, and I must admit that when I wore the DeWitt Academia Out Of Time in my wrist, I’d probably be spending a lot of time staring at it.Otherwise, the dial merely indicates the moment, and much of the top region of the face looks relatively stark in comparison with the base of the dial. It is also unique how DeWitt borders all the two subdials separately. It makes for a dial that looks both asymmetrical and symmetrical at precisely the exact same time – that is something I don’t remember ever saying earlier.
Use of the Valjoux 7750 means that the case can’t be that thin. Despite good wearing comfort thanks to the shorter lugs, the Classic Cosmonaut’s case is nearly 15mm thick. The screw-down pushers and crown likely contribute to overall durability as well as the case’s 100m of water resistance. Fortis makes use of a great sapphire crystal over the dial that despite being just a bit curved, doesn’t suffer from any glare (Fortis claims AR-coating on both sides, which is correct for a watch like this). The clear (glare-free) view of the dial is a testament to the tool-watch nature of the Fortis Classic Cosmonauts Steel a.m. timepiece.