Fortis Pilot 24 Hour Automatic

Archives October 11, 2002 admin

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Automatic 24 Hour Pilot

Review and pictures by boB

“This rugged watch will set you apart from the usual crowd”

Now here’s a watch that is durable, rugged, and affordably priced. I’ve had this watch for a month now, and it is rapidly becoming my go anywhere, do anything, every day wear watch.

To be sure, it’s no Rolex, or Jaeger-LeCoultre. The overwhelming appeal for me is the military styling and uniqueness of the 24 hour dial coupled with a great price. At once, it is novel, without being a novelty. It is utilitarian to a fault, and over time, the pragmatic timekeeping actually begins to make sense.

ref. 596.10.148

My Review:

The good:

The watch is solidly built. The external case finish is consistent throughout and the fit is excellent. The numbers are big and legible. Legibility in dim light is excellent due to a liberal dose of tritium on the hands and numbers. So far the watch has been keeping time to approximately +3 seconds a day. That’s actually very good considering it is not a certified chronometer. The watch has a screw down crown and is water resistant to 200 meters, which is rare for a pilot’s watch and somewhat unusual for a watch at this price. The seconds hand hacks when setting the time. The leather strap is extremely comfortable, and very well built. The quality of stitching and padding is usually found on straps costing much more. The whole watch fits on my wrist very well despite it’s size and heft.

The watch retails for $795, but streetwise shoppers will find this watch in the $500 range. Military enthusiasts will find this a very cool looking watch.

The bad:

The 24 hour format is not immediately intuitive. Even though I use the 24 hour Military time format at work, it still took some getting used to. Under low light conditions there is a real tendency to try read the time by the traditional hand positions of the more familiar 12 hour format. Because there are twice as many numbers on the dial, at times it is hard to tell exactly which hour the hour hand is pointing to. This becomes especially apparent when it is more than half past the hour. Even though a sapphire crystal is available as an upgrade option, the watch as purchased came with a hardened mineral crystal. But then again, most watches in the $500 range have mineral crystals.

The ugly:

Make no bones about it. The movement is a stock ETA 2893-2. There is no perlage, no Cotes de Geneve, no Guilloche. There is a spacer to facilitate the movement’s fit inside the oversized case. In defense of Fortis, it should come as no surprise that many reputable manufacturers include spacers within their oversize cases. The watch is designed to be rugged and utilitarian. No frills at this price.


If you work in a missile silo, Captain a nuclear submarine, or live in a cave, then this watch is for you! It lends itself to any environment where the distinction between night and day becomes blurred. It will also appeal to a collector of fine watches because it’s quite impressive despite it’s low list price. It’s
truly a bargain, and at the same time it’s a unique addition to your collection. Besides everyone needs at least one “knock-about” watch. Why settle for the ubiquitous Swiss Army Watch when the Fortis can be had for nearly the same price? Because of the 24 hour format, this watch will draw attention like no other. People who have never noticed your expensive solid gold trinkets, will stop you in your tracks to see this watch. This is a great watch, at a great price.


matte stainless steel
40 mm x 11 mm

hardened mineral

padded and stitched black leather

Movement: Automatic
ETA 2893-2
21 jewels

200 meters
screw down crown

28,800 vibrations per hour

Retail price:$795.00


Also available with stainless bracelet, sapphire crystal, and display back.
The finish, though no frills, is done quite well, as evidenced by the side view photo.

A Recommendation:

If the 24 hour format is not for you, but you still like the military aviation styling, I’d strongly urge you to look at the Fortis Pilot 12 hour dial. It has the venerable ETA 2824-2 movement, but otherwise it’s identical in every aspect save the dial configuration.

It sure reminds me of a vintage Stowa!

ref. 595.10.46

This watch retails for $395, and can be had for less than $300 with discount.

All photos were taken by boB using a Sony Mavica FD-71. Photos may not be used for commercial purposes without the expressed written consent of photographer.