Fortis Pilot’s Automatic [3/98]

Archives September 24, 2002 admin

Fortis Pilot’s Automatic

Posted by Steve Duncan on March 13, 1998 at 13:19:07

For those of you who have no idea what this thing is, the Fortis Pilot’s Automatic is a very simple watch. ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, simple face (white on black) – designed after an aircraft gauge, date at three o’clock, and luminous everything. Except the second hand – that is neon orange. Water resistant to 200m. 40mm in dial, 11mm thick. Matt stainless steel case with an ‘unprotected’ (no lugs on either side) screw down crown. Your choice of leather strap or stainless bracelet, I got the strap.

I was impressed by the venerable Fortis Can, in which the watch came, stuffed in foam with the proper (at least to me) paperwork, and cleaning cloth. I was impressed just because it is so rare to get anything in a re-usable container (much less a metal one) these days!

The watch itself also got my attention quickly. For some reason the dial looks bigger in person than in the catalog (I live in a horological desert, and was unable to find a Fortis to fondle in person). It also looks somewhat different because the photos don’t really capture the greenness of the luminous paint on the numerals, markers, and hands. The combination of the pale green hands and markers, with the neon orange second hand, and black dial, is very striking. Mostly in a good sense for me, as it screams FUNCTIONAL and I’m an engineer ;^). The watch has the kind of ‘readability’ that I hadn’t realized was missing from some of my other watches, until I wore this one. I’m re-discovering why I wore a manual-wind Hamilton Khaki for so many years (long ago, before my quartz techno-watch craze).

The leather strap (20mm) seems of the usual quality. It is black leather, with white stitching. The buckle has the Fortis Logo on it. By the feel of it, I’ll probably be replacing it in 8 to 10 months. I may order the bracelet, or I may get an aftermarket bracelet, or I may just stay with the strap. Somehow the watch just looks better with a strap to me, but a bracelet would obviously last longer.

The quality seems good, with the exception of the threads on the screw-down crown. They seem awful tight to me, but then again that might just be a seal compressing. At least the crown is large, and well-knurled, although unsigned. I do like the hack feature, which stops the second hand when the hands are being set. Although this watch probably won’t keep +/- 1 sec for very long, there is something satisfying about setting it _exactly_.

The writing on the back of the case (which itself seems very solid) is even, with more of a investment cast-in than stamped-on look. There is the Fortis logo, slogan, water resistance rating, and the model number. There is no serial number, but at this price point I didn’t expect any. One thing people commented on (other than my vision, which they assumed must be failing 😎 was the watches ‘heft’. Other than tight threads, the only bad points (so far) are the crystal not being inset (it sticks up about .010″ or so), its flatness (at certain angles it becomes a mirror), and the size of the date window (it’s very small compared to the other numerals).

All in all, I’m very happy with the watch and don’t regret the purchase.