This year, Fortis is celebrating a whole century in the watchmaking. The privately held company from the Swiss town of Grenchen has made quite an impact on the industry during the last hundred years. Fortis is the first company in the world that produced self-winding mechanical wristwatches. It was the legendary timepiece that was produced and launched in the late 1920s. The timepiece was a product from collaboration with a British watchmaker, John Harwood, the inventor of an automatic wristwatch with a “hammer” mechanism (self-winding movements were previously used only in pocket watches).
Another important contribution of the company is the world’s only chronograph with mechanical alarm. This model was master-minded by renowned watchmaker Paul Gerber. The third pillar of the firm’s success derives from the fact that Fortis is the official timekeeper of the Russian space program. For this reason, Fortis has perfected the construction of automatic chronographs that are perfectly functional even in the conditions of a space flight. Such capabilities, on the other hand, enabled Fortis timekeepers to be involved in numerous space missions.
Anniversary Limited Editions and “From Grenchen into Space – 100 Years Fortis” Exhibition
In order to celebrate the anniversary, Fortis has launched several limited editions of special watches, which include novelties from the F-43 Fleiger line, with F-43 Fleiger Chronograph Alarm GMT C.O.S.C. timepiece being the crown jewel of newcomers, Marinemaster Vintage Chronograph and a neat frosty-themed product designed by Rolf Sachs. The most complex watch by the company so far, F-43 Fleiger Chronograph Alarm GMT C.O.S.C, which was made as a display of the watchmaker’s technical expertise, is exhibited along with other products from the brand’s history in the Grenchen Museum of Cultural History.
The exhibition, adequately named “From Grenchen into Space – 100 Years Fortis” tells the story of the economic rise of the region and its links with Fortis. The display offers a host of authentic documents, objects used and connected to space exploration, and most importantly, the significant watches from the entire period of 100 years of the firm’s existence. The collection naturally includes the legendary Harwood timepiece, the first series made automatic watch. The theme and the name itself clearly underline the brand’s desire to remain among the top manufacturers of timekeeping instruments for the space program. The exhibition, which tells the story of how the watchmaker from Grenchen reached the position of the manufacturer of tiemepieces with possibly the longest experience in weightless surroundings, will be open until September.