Having been the official watch provider to the Russian space program for several decades, Fortis is one of the few brands that offer aviation /space-inspired watches backed up by a legitimate provenance. The latest from the brand is the Flieger F43 Bicompax, a modern take on the popular Flieger watches from the past.
Given their utilitarian no-nonsense design and a strong focus on legibility, Flieger watches have a cult following within the Watch fraternity. For the Flieger F43, Fortis has taken a more contemporary design approach to create a watch that keeps the DNA of a Flieger intact but does not look like a traditional Flieger. One of the things that immediately stands out on the F43 is how graphic the dial is. To achieve this, Fortis has replaced the Arabic numerals found on conventional pilots’ watches with illuminated green rectangles. The minute track has also been designed to stand out and uses long white printed hash markings to provide high contrast against the black background.
This entire setup has been placed on a chapter ring that sits above the base dial to give a nice sense of depth. To make the dial lively, Fortis has made wise use of Orange accents that can be seen in action on the date window at 6, the chronograph hand, the chronograph minute counter. One interesting detail is the use of orange to highlight the Synchorline, a window of +/-5 seconds around 12 O’clock, that can be used by pilots to unite to a formation. The chronograph layout has been presented in a balanced twin-register layout with chronograph minutes at 3 and running seconds at 9. As for the hands, you get distinctive sword-shaped hands for hours/minute and simple batons for the rest of the functions.
Machined from stainless steel, the case on the Fortis F43 Bicompax as the name suggests measures 43mm in diameter. Like any great tool watch, the case has been presented in a nice brushed finish. Placed on top of the case is a 12-hour GMT bezel which is also another unique detail not commonly found on Flieger watches. The case is water-resistant to 200 meters which makes the F43 a capable sports watch.
Under the hood of the F43 is the brand’s caliber UW51. This is an automatic chronograph movement that is based on the Sellita SW510. The movement operates at a frequency of 4Hz and offers a power reserve of around 48 hours. While it is always good to see the internals of a mechanical movement, it has been hidden underneath a closed case back in this instance.
The new Fortis F43 Bicompax would be available to purchase on a leather strap for EUR 3,300 and a stainless-steel bracelet for EUR 3,800.