Young entrepeneur Walter Vogt at the young age of 29 already knew that a strong and timeless brand name combined with a flawless and professional production line are top of the list of requirements for success within this competitive and fast growing industry. In 1912, my Vogt initiated the implementation of his plan to own a modern factory that would drive his business venture to new heights, he chose a location conveniently situated next to the train station in Grenchen, Switzerland. The FORTIS watches name and logo was registered only one year later and the brand exploded. Vogt’s philosophy was simple, he wanted to produce reliable timepieces of the highest quality for the international market. Vogt saw good opportunities for his undertaking, as wristwatches became the world’s trend in the beginning of the 20th century.
The world’s first mass-produced automatic wristwatch
In 1922, Vogt had an encounter with John Harwood, a British clockmaker and inventor which many people have called a very fateful moment. John Harwood was hard at work searching for a Swiss company who would realise his idea of an automatic wristwatch. Harwood saw Vogt as a visionary promoter of his idea.
Mr Harwood and Mr Vogt spent the next four years developing the legendary model now known as Harwood which was the first automatic wristwatch ready for series production. Its acclamation at the Baselworld fair strengthened FORTIS reputation and competence worldwide, So much so that famous British journalist Lady Drummond Hay was accompanied by a Harwood automatic aboard the Graf Zeppelin airship when it went on its first world tour in 1929. She was the only female passenger on that flight.
In the early 1930s FORTIS changed the pioneering direction and creative push when it manufactured its very first chronographs collection. Among these watches in the new collection was the Autorist which was a brand new and innovative concept, harnesing the movement of the strap to power the watch.
In 1943, one of the world’s first waterproof watches was was released when FORTIS announced the FORTISsimo. FORTIS’ competence in this field peaked in the Manager, which managed to win the prestigious chronometer award of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute COSC in 1956 for being the first waterproof mechanical alarm chronometer. Until today the models of the FORTIS Aquatis Collection have embodied the perfect symbiosis of award-winning design and functionality.FORTIS
FORTIS wathesdecided that the 1960s were a time of change and they decided to launch a risky, but extremely successful experiment, ending up with a public bestseller, the first Swiss plastic watch which was water-resistant up to 200 m.
FORTIS watchesthen brought themselves a little closer to home and found the way back to its roots, focusing on aviation watches. In 1987, the Flieger Chronograph watch set a new trend using the rarely seen and hardly ever sold oversized cases with a diameter of 40 mm. This step was officially recognised in 2004 when FORTIS watcheswon the 1st European Aviation Watch Award. The brand believed that design is nothing without functionality, with its highly functional and reliable aviation watches FORTIS successfully set two new altitude records, this only reinforced its place as one of the top choices of instrument for pilots and over 60 flight squadrons worldwide, including the Swiss Air Force’s PC-7 Team® used the brand.
After passing a number of gruelling 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 was now considered to be one of the strictly defined essentials on the list of equipment for cosmonauts. Putting forward over 100.000 earth orbits no other watch has ever spent more time in space. To pay tribute to the pioneering cooperation of the space authorities their emblem is engraved in the case back of all FORTIS Cosmonautis Collection models like the legendary FORTIS Watches Official Cosmonauts, which was fitting as this was the first automatic watch in open space.
The world’s first automatic alarm chronograph GMT
FORTIS has always demonstrated its pioneering role in the art of Swiss watchmaking for example at the centennial celebration in 2012, FORTIS introduced its Opus Magnum, the Daybreaker. This was announced as the world’s first automatic chronograph with alarm and GMT functions making the Daybreaker one of the most complicated wristwatches ever built at the time consisting of more than 500 micromechanical pieces.
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