A mechanical chronograph has long ceased to be a “tool of choice” for an astronaut: there are specialized electronic devices for that that are just better. The 2022 Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chrono AMADEE-20 Edition acknowledges the fact with a brief nod and instead delivers what a modern customer really wants: megatons of style and charisma at an *ahem* relatively affordable price of $3900 and some change.
The Amadee-20 will probably never reach the Earth’s orbit. Just like the Mars 500 that was set in Russia, the Amadee-20 experiment is an “integrated Mars analog field mission” conducted in the Negev Desert in Israel in October 2021. Its primary goal was to test equipment (and, primarily, the resilience of the human psyche) in an environment that is almost too close to that on the Red Planet.
Compared to other current “Cosmonauts,” the Fortis Amadee-20 delivers a cleaner design and objectively better legibility, which makes it the black sheep of the family. It is also the only modern “Cosmonaut” coming in a feather-light titanium case with only a minor price premium over the steel models.
Not going to lie: this one is probably the first Fortis “space” watch that I could be truly interested in if I was on the market for yet another chronograph.
The oversized (the AMADEE-20 Edition measures 44mm x 53mm in width and length, and is about 15mm thick) titanium case looks a bit generic, but sports the same ergonomic profile as, for example, their older F-43 Flieger chronograph. Also, it serves as a nice frame for the laconic, meticulously executed dial (more on that below.)
The light titanium alloy is a scratch magnet, but it will also make the watch much more pleasant to wear than your average “sporty” chronograph crafted from stainless steel.
The large push-pieces and the traditionally huge winding/setting crown, too, make using the device a lot more comfortable for an average person.
The two luminous dots on the rotating bezel are not particularly innovative, yet they make the part look a lot more interesting without trying too hard. It is a nice replacement for the traditional 15-minute “dive time” scale even though the chosen interval of just ten minutes (an average time of travel for a radio wave between Earth and Mars) looks sort of gimmicky to me.
As far as the straps are concerned, you can have the watch both on their traditional titanium Block bracelet with a Fortis Slide-Clasp system that offers approximately 8 millimeters (around 1/3 inch) of adjustment and the complementary “Hook” textile strap designed and handcrafted by Nick Mankey.
The “Hook” uses a “proprietary, military-grade Twill-Woven Polyester Elastic Webbing” material, so, apparently, you can safely dive or swim with it (the watch itself is rated for 200 meters of water resistance, so it will survive even a serious diving expedition with no problem.)
The self-winding Fortis caliber UW-50 that animates this model (as well as many, many other collections from the brand) is unremarkable. Yet, based on the good old ETA Valjoux 7750, the mechanism offers impressive reliability and, unlike some three-handers with exotic third-party add-on modules, is a dream to service.
The standard power reserve of 48 hours is enough for most enthusiasts. The accuracy of around +/- 5-7 seconds per day is not great, but, too, is satisfactory if you are not one of those persons spoiled by the Japanese quartz calibers automatically synchronizing with either atomic clocks or smartphones.
Again, there is nothing particularly fancy about this particular implementation of the 7750. There are no upgrades that Fortis would care to mention, it doesn’t have a COSC “chronometer” certificate (although, if you are enthusiastic enough about this watch, you can always take it to a good serviceman and adjust it to the chronometer standard) and you cannot even see the laconic finish through the solid titanium case-back cover. It is “just” a good robust movement.
Dial & Legibility: 4.5/5
The legibility department, however, is where this model truly shines.
The brushed titanium texture of the dial serves as an almost perfect background for the oversized Arabic numerals on the minute track, as well as for the applied rectangular hour markers and the long-sword-shaped hour and minute hands.
All of these elements (excluding, alas, the needle-shaped small seconds indicator at 9 o’clock) feature a top-shelf Superluminova X1 luminous compound that is about 1.5-times brighter than the one that you normally see in entry-level Swiss “aviators”.
For some reason, Fortis decided to make the 30-minute chronograph indicator really stand out among other elements. Renamed rather pompously as the “Grand Counter”, the display features a sunburst finish and may come in handy if you, like me, prefer to live by the timer, but, unlike me, refuse to defect to the Apple Watch (or another “smartwatch” device from Samsung or Garmin) as your daily driver.
The 12-hour chronograph counter at 6 o’clock is gone and won’t be missed. In its place, there is the “Amadee-20” mission patch in black, gold, blue, and white.
Pricing & Availability
Fortis offers the AMADEE-20 at a price of CHF 3600 (that’s approximately USD 3930) including VAT. Still, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one of these at the MSRP: if you are not on a first-name basis with your local dealer, they will probably add a couple of hundreds atop of it as a sort of “market adjustment.”
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chrono AMADEE-20 specification
Price: CHF 3600 (MSRP)
Movement: Fortis caliber UW-50, based on ETA Valjoux 7750, Swiss Made
Number of Jewels: 25
Cadence of Balance: 28,800 vph
Power Reserve: 48 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date
Bezel: Rotating, two luminous dots
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 44.00 mm (53 mm lug-to-lug)
Case height: 15.00 mm
Dial: Grey titanium
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Applied, luminous (Superluminova X1)
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Titanium “Block” bracelet with a Fortis Slide-Clasp system with approx. 8 mm of adjustment / The “Hook” textile strap designed and handcrafted by Nick Mankey
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective coating
Back: Solid titanium, engraved