While the new Fortis VP-40 “Laging Handa” Patrol Squadron Forty automatic chronograph wristwatch doesn’t even try to look different from dozens of other Fortis aviation-inspired chronos, it still offers a very nice combination of a solid-built body with pleasantly massive push-pieces and setting crown, and a dial that, although looking a bit cluttered, nevertheless easy enough to read (only if you don’t try to use the standard tachymeter scale on the bezel flange).
After a pretty nice B42 Phantoms Phorever Flieger Chronograph that the brand has released back in August 2013, here comes yet another limited edition timekeeper that was designed with a specific plane in mind. This time it is not one of the legendary fighters that were designed to defend America’s European allies from the Soviet bloc, but the good old Lockheed P-3C Orion, a reconnaissance and surveillance plane which is operated by Patrol Squadron Forty (VP-40) of the US Navy.
Yet another child of the Cold War, the plane took part in operations over Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan and even Libya during the recent civil war that, with all of its atrocities, didn’t look especially pleasant to the eye.
Since the watch is basically the same well-known B42 Chrono with slightly different finish, it would possibly be a waste of time reciting all of its features. I would only note that it is powered by a bullet-proof ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement and features a well-proportioned 42 millimeter stainless steel body with a pair of push-pieces at their usual places and a setting crown, all three of them defiantly oversized for easier grip even in winter.
If you take a closer look at the dial, you will also notice that the mechanism was slightly modified with the seconds indicator removed from its usual place at 9 hours. From where I sit, this doesn’t make the timekeeper any more useful, quite on the contrary, I gather.
Despite being relatively compact on paper, the gadget may be too large for certain types of wrists due to its excessively long horns that seem to be designed to accommodate thick, vintage inspired leather straps and massive bracelets. If you happen to have skinny, but wider wrists — you are good. If your wrists are thick, but are more of a roundish kind, you should probably try one in person first before shelling out money for this beauty.
The only thing that makes the watch look really different from the aforementioned B42 Phantoms Phorever, is the VP-40 insignia, which is painted at 9 hours. Made in high-contrast white, the emblem nicely balances the chronograph totalizers that are located at their usual places at 12 and 6 hours.
As usual, the way that the oversized day/date window at 3 o’clock, which is accompanied by the brand’s logo and “CHRONOGRAPH / AUTOMATIC” inscriptions looks a bit overwhelming (especially if you happened to grow up in a nuclear shelter and have only just emerged on the face of Earth) at first, but that’s a part of the gadget’s charisma, I suppose.
Photos: Chr. Ward
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3.5/5
Fortis VP-40 “Laging Handa” Patrol Squadron Forty watch specification
Movement: Automatic, ETA Valjoux 7750, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Movement decoration: Oscillating weight branded
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, day of weeks, chronograph
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Hour markers: White, luminous
Hands: White, luminous
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Black leather strap
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire