The Swiss-based brand Fortis has just released its new Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Chronograph (ref. 800.20.80 L.01) automatic wrist watch. Set to be shown in flesh during the upcoming Baselworld 2012 trade fair, the timekeeper pays homage to its eponymous predecessor from the 1970s. Comparing pictures of both models I must admit that they look almost identical to each other with only minor differences here and there. However, sporting a significantly less remarkable water resistance rating, the watch leaves somewhat dubious impression.
While the original Fortis Marinemaster was officially rated for 200 meters of water resistance and could be considered a real diving watch, the new version of the piece only looks like a diver. At least, I wouldn’t advise you even swim in this timekeeper with its mere 50 meters of water tightness.
As a side note, I must admit that this modern approach really starts to piss me off.
Every time I look for a new amplifier, or a pair of shoes, or a piece of furniture, or even an electric guitar from a major brand, I see that the market is virtually occupied by goods that look like the real thing, cost like the real thing, but in fact serve the same single purpose: to give you the idea of owning the real thing without delivering the user experience that you expect from it.
That’s what irritates me most about this watch: it looks like the real thing, but doesn’t deliver something that you expect from it.
This fact considered, I must say that the rotating bezel with its nicely executed, high-contrast diving scale looks somewhat out of place here, like faux air inlets on an entry-level American muscle-car that hides an anemic naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine under its bulging hood.
So, if you plan to get this watch as a diving companion, you may be very disappointed.
However, if you simply look for a sporty chronograph watch with a vintage look and a reliable movement ticking inside its case, this may be a nice choice.
I mean, the watch is offered in a very compact (by today’s standards) stainless steel case. Measuring only 40 millimeters in diameter, it doesn’t look like an anti-armor landmine on your wrist and will probably look good with a Leica M3 and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, if you know what I mean.
According to the official press release, the new Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Chronograph is powered by a Fortis caliber F-2020 self-winding movement, which is in fact a version of the ETA 2892-A2 ebauche, which is equipped with a Dubois Depraz 2020 chronograph module. Although not as simple and easy to service as a natural-born chronograph movement, this engine is still reliable enough to power a rather expensive timekeeper.
As the Swiss brand puts it in its press release, the watch will be issued as a limited edition model. There will be only 1000 of them with the whole lot evenly divided by the version in orange (clearly my favorite) and the version in blue. No info on MSRP yet.
Photos: Fortis, Dimitris Karayiannis
Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Chronograph (ref. 800.20.80 L.01) specification
Movement: Automatic, Fortis caliber F-2020 (ETA 2892-A2 base movement with Dubois Depraz 2020 chronograph module,) Incabloc shock absorber, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 47
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: Vertical Geneva stripes, branded oscillating weight
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Case size: 40.00 mm
Dial: Black or Dark Grey
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with contrast light-grey stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, domed, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire