Automatic 24 Hour Pilot
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.
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 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.
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
Also available with stainless bracelet, sapphire crystal, and display back.
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!
This watch retails for $395, and can be had for less than $300 with discount.